Free or Inexpensive Holiday Gift Ideas for Runners

Let’s face it, this time of year can get nutty (with a capital N) and expensive as we try to dazzle our friends and family with meaningful gifts, intent on showing them how much we care. You don’t have to break the bank though, to give the runner in your life a special gift (especially your BRF).

Here are 8 free or inexpensive gift ideas for runners.

1) Happiness Jar
This is one of my favorite gifts to give. Simply find a clear jar, bowl, vase or large cup and add a pen and a little pile of colorful blank cards. The idea is that every time something good or exciting happens in your life, you write it down on a card and put it in the Happiness Jar. It could simply be, “Dragged myself out the door and ran 3 miles today when my motivation was waning” or “Ran a PR!” or “Went for a wonderful run with ____.” As the year goes on the jar becomes more and more colorful, reminding you of just how lucky you are. Gratitude bubbles up every time you look at it. And here’s a bonus: the recipient will always think of you whenever she adds a happy note to the jar because you are the one who gave it to her.

2) Framed Running Picture
Frame a photo from her favorite race or run, or even a fun selfie you snapped together on a run. Capturing the spirit of her love of running will keep her going all year and celebrate your friendship and her fitness.

3) Custom Race Calendar 
Do your research and troll through the web for all the races in your area for the year. Hand-pick ones you know she’ll love. Even better, highlight ones you’d like to do together. Give it a spunky personalized title like, “Becky’s Badass Running Year Ahead” and print it out on pretty paper. Throw in a few of her favorite gels or chews and you’ll set a fun tone for the year ahead.

4) Mileage Jar
This is another visual celebration of fitness and running, and an especially exciting gift for runners who are just starting out or who need every type of motivation possible. Simply give her a pretty jar and a big bag of marbles. Every time she runs a mile, she gets to put a marble in the jar. This jar represents her fitness, determination, and progress. By the end of the year, it will be filled with hundreds of marbles. You could also substitute marbles for pennies or any other item that might match her personality.

5) A Handwritten Letter
This may sound a little sappy, but simply putting into words what your running partner means to you is one of the simplest and most meaningful gifts you can give. Be specific. Remember details about certain runs. Celebrate the qualities you appreciate most in her. Just like you leave it all out on the road or trail, leave it all out in this letter. Want to take it up a notch? This is an especially nice gift to give with a bottle of wine or a bag of her favorite coffee or tea. While she’s sipping away, she can linger over your sentiments.

6) Healthy recipes
This is great idea for those who could use a little inspiration in the meal planning department. Simply gather up your favorite healthy recipes, print them out on pretty card stock and tie them with a ribbon. From smoothies to entrees to healthy desserts, the possibilities are endless. Your creativity is what makes it so special and useful. Want to elevate it a little more? How about including a coupon for a healthy home-cooked meal delivered to her door? Or how about wrapping up some homemade granola or a healthy dessert?

7) Farmer’s Market Tokens
In our town we can purchase tokens from our Farmer’s Market, which can then be used like cash at our various weekly markets. It’s fun to give tokens in a little cinched bag with a ribbon. It’s also a perfect complement to the healthy recipe gift idea above.

8) Coupon Booklet…(the possibilities are endless)
• Babysitting when she’s in a bind and needs a last-minute babysitter so she can go for a run. We’ve all been there, right?
• Driving her to a race to be a support/logistics person (cowbells and signs included in package).
• A healthy meal delivered to her door (see above)
• Packet pick-up service for when life gets in the way of her being able to pick up her race bib
• Pushing her jogger on a day she’d love to use her arms and run freely (that’s if you don’t already have your own to push!)

In the event you’d still like a few traditional gift ideas, here are 50 gifts any Best Running Friend would appreciate–from stocking stuffers to big spender items:

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Fueling Setbacks with Gratitude

NiteMovesJune2514It has been a SERIOUSLY fun year of running for me—pushing myself out my comfort zone, competing, playing, connecting with new people, doing new events.

Each week I’ve gotten stronger, faster and more confident as I’ve worked at getting back into shape.

By late August, I had logged well over a dozen races—many of which I’d run slightly faster than the one before. It was exhilarating.

But then I hit a speed bump.

Ventura Half Marathon MedalAfter running the Ventura Half Marathon in early September and then the She is Beautiful 5K a couple weeks later, with 18 and 20-mile runs in between, along with some tempo runs and track workouts, my body let me know that not only had I taken it too far, I had taken it for granted by ignoring its subtle, yet persistent warning signals.

Becky Aaronson 2014 She is BeautifulThe aches, “which every runner feels,” I told myself, were never “that bad.” But then those aches suddenly turned into ones that were that bad. With just six weeks to go until my target race—the Santa Barbara Veteran’s Day Marathon—I was forced to put on the brakes as I pushed my foot and back beyond their tipping points.

Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn.

Long story short (because I don’t want to bore you with a litany of injury details), the Santa Barbara Marathon did not happen for me. Disappointment doesn’t even begin to describe my frustration.


After beating myself up, then administering several generous doses of chocolate and wine, I finally pulled myself together. I was determined to salvage this marathon, no matter what.

Thus began my 6-week “mega taper,” which involved a whole lot of rest, pool running, cryotherapy and compression sessions, nothing but uber healthy food, extra cushy Hoka shoes, then slowly easing back into short, easy runs on grass with Coach Nash’s guidance.

Cryotherapy at The LabNormaTec Compression PantsRun Be Run Green Smoothie
Hoka Huaka shoes

I tried to convince myself that by not stressing about it and embracing this “mega taper,” I’d at least get myself to the starting line. Eventually though, it became painfully obvious that attempting a full marathon would be stupid in my marginally healed state, and my marginally maintained fitness level. I might have been able to do it (ever so slooowwwly), but I didn’t want to just run another marathon; I wanted to race it.

But here’s the good news (the cup is half full, right?): although I didn’t run the full marathon, I did manage to salvage race day by at least participating in the half marathon. It was not fast (about 8-10 minutes off my goal time) or pretty, but I did get through it, on a very hot day no less, and did cross the finish line with a smile on my face.

Becky Aaronson Santa Barbara Half MarathonBecky Aaronson 2014 SB Half Marathon

That was three weeks ago. I know Continue reading