Note: this will be the last post of 2020 for NHCC, please join us at our sister website newhampshiretrackandfield.com for coverage of the best track and field athletes in New England!!!
By Mike Smith
If you have a high school runner in your life and can’t think of what to get them for Christmas, here are a few ideas.
- A watch. As there are twelve hours in a day (on a watch!), why not get the runner in your life a simple, cheap (relatively speaking) watch that does splits so they can learn to time themselves. There are multiple versions of the TIMEX Ironman that will do the trick. No need for a fancy GPS one. For decades a simple timepiece did the trick and still does.
- Orange Mud towel. This isn’t just a towel. It’s designed to allow you to change out of sweaty shorts as well as be used as a seat cover. You can always use a towel, but the Orange Mud towel is designed with a clip to keep the towel from “untucking” while you’ve got your shorts off and a zipper to allow you to hook it over the head rest so it doesn’t slip down as you drive. If your running high schooler borrows your car, this “gift” might benefit you more than them!
- Reflective/light up gear. If you run through the winter there stands a good chance it’s going to be dark at some point when you run. Having something reflective to catch the eye of driver’s is always a good idea. There are things that reflect as well as things that light up, helping to make you safe. Noxgear is probably the Cadillac of light up safety equipment but all of it helps. Drivers are already distracted by all kinds of other attention seekers, let’s make sure the runner in your life gets the “recognition” they deserve.
- Running gloves/mittens. Nothing worse than cold fingers during and after a run. Get back from out in the elements and your hands can’t even untie your laces? Can’t feel them? They turned white and gone numb? They range from lightweight gloves with touch screen capability to clunkers that will allow your fingers to survive in Antarctica. While often overlooked, good gloves are worth their weight in gold.
- A buff. In this time of Covid I’ve found a running buff to be helpful in crowded situations. But my first buff was intentionally for running in winter. Use it as a neck warmer, head covering, balaclava, they’re very versatile whatever the situation. Great stocking stuffer!
- Running pants. Holy moly. I grew up in the era of cotton sweats. And while they’re comfy lounging around on the couch, they’re disgusting, gross and continuously getting heavier during a midwinter long run. All running companies sell running pants that are essentially technical “joggers” with zippers at the ankles. Good bye cold and clammy, hello warm legs.
- Technical running shirt. Along the same lines at the sweat pants issue, a sweatshirt is exactly that, sweaty. Getting something that’s a bit windproof, maybe ¼ zip, is a great investment. These come in a variety of thicknesses so depending on how cold your runner is and how cold the winter gets you can get the right “weight” for the conditions. This allows one to go out possibly a touch underdressed but adapt to the conditions as you warm up.
- Running jacket. While not always necessary it’s a godsend when needed. At least water resistant and wind resistant, with venting to aid in overheating, is a great choice. Sometimes athletes will wear it for warming up and then race in less so it gets use even when unnecessary. Incorporate some high visibility and kill two birds with one stone.
- Running socks. Yes you can make do with the cotton gym socks but why would you? Running socks don’t bunch up under the arches and while a bit more money, they last much longer than your traditional cotton ones. Moisture wicking, they help protect your feet. And let’s face it, as a distance runner, your feet are your bread and butter so take care of them.
- Blister shield/body glide. While not always necessary, once you get to that point where it’s needed, you won’t want to “wait” to have it. If you’re looking to ratchet up the miles for your winter training, with the cooler temperatures constricting your skin, winter might be the time the distance runner discovers their need for lubricating those body parts that pay the price upping the mileage. Keep the lubricant in their race kit and the athlete will always be prepared to prevent the chafing they most often discover once back in the shower.
- Running shoes. If not shoes, how about a gift certificate? Shoes are expensive but so important to running injury free. If your athlete is a high schooler they’ll likely wear through about three pairs of trainers a year, or potentially more. Shoes are good for about 300 to 500 miles, so for a distance runner that’s a new pair every 3 to 4 months.
- A training log. Doesn’t need to be sophisticated or fancy. But the best way to make and record progress, and to understand what works in training and what doesn’t is a training log. Could be online and tracked with GPS or simply could be a basic written log where they record mileage, time, effort, etc. Training logs are super helpful in diagnosing training injuries as well.
This list is by no means exhaustive or exclusive, but just some ideas for that high school distance runner in your life. High school kids so often train in gear that they can run in but doesn’t enhance their running. I suppose that’s one of the beauties of the sport, you can get started without investing much in the way of gear. However once you’ve chosen the sports as YOUR sport, the items on this list will enhance the experience. And obviously our favorite place to purchase all of these is at RUNNER’S ALLEY!!!
Happy holidays and keep on running!