By: Brentney Hamilton
Ho, ho, here we go again. In-laws are asking for ideas. New couples cringe trying to find a meaningful material gesture for someone who is yet a romantic acquaintance. If gift-giving causes more stress than joy this holiday season, we’re here with a helpful strategy for the runner in your life.
It’s easy to Google any number of gift guides, but gear is always a tricky proposition. Your runner likely knows what he or she likes and – let’s be real – bought it back in May after months of intensive research. On top of that, real talk: Some publications aren’t so honest about “sponsored content,” compiling questionable reviews that are, in reality, paid advertisement.
Take a different route this year. Give the runner in your life an experience that definitely fits.
Race Entries and Packages
I took a jab at running magazine writers in the previous section, so I’d be remiss in ignoring the fact that this first, best, and most obvious experience … is on the blog for a race company. But I didn’t write for Run Project when I received their series for Christmas in 2012. I’d been running for many years, but I was new to racing and was learning how incredibly fun it can be to hop in and hammer down at a hometown running party.
The race series package started off my New Year on the right foot with automatic entry to all the Run Project events, roughly one per month, which amounted to practically an entire year of racing on the calendar before 2013 even started. It was also an opportunity to try out a variety of distances at locations around North Texas. Back then, the series included a hoodie, and I still wear it with pride.
Options are more customizable in 2019. You can create your own package, choosing as few as three (or as many as all nine) of the Run Project races, and discounts increase all the way up to 20 percent off. Fill the calendar with all winter races or a summer sweat-fest, and pick and choose events conveniently closest to home or that present an opportunity to travel a bit further for new scenery.
The Run Project series is a personal preference because it allows me to revisit the races that introduced me to running as a community effort, but it’s hardly the only option in D-FW. Survey websites to find good deals on races that best fit your runner’s passions and goals.
Running club memberships are an inexpensive but meaningful way to help your runner connect with likeminded individuals and feel like a part of something larger.
Locally, dues range from around $25-$40 per year, and you’ll find established clubs in practically every town from Cowtown to the shores of Lake Grapevine and beyond.
Many memberships include free monthly races. Take, for example, the Dallas Running Club’s iconic series around White Rock Lake or the Plano Pacers’ long-running regular races at Bob Woodruff Park.
Some clubs offer training programs with official pace groups. DRC’s are well-respected, and come at additional cost, so that’s another potential gift option.
Others groups training schedules are more informal like the McKinney Running Club, where members stick with a group or sometimes go it alone when training plans don’t perfectly sync for long Saturday morning miles. Either way, members feel supported with indefatigably-stocked water and Gatorade aid stations and free community coffee at the finish. (Full disclosure, I sit on the MRC leadership board.)
In Dallas, you’ll find a similar set up with White Rock Running Co-Op, but membership there is free by design. In lieu of dues, give your runner a gift card to Taco Joint or the Lake House, two locally-loved restaurant/bars where the club regularly meets and hangs out after training.
Speaking of gift cards, this one is tried-and-true, if a tad uncreative.
Spice it up by figuring out where your runner likes to indulge after a long run and give money towards brunch on a favorite patio. (We trend to be creatures of habit; it’s likely your runner is a regular somewhere.) Or, find a restaurant that looks good in a city where your runner will be traveling for an important race.
Those who like to buy local and support small businesses can also give their runners the opportunity to pick out gear at an indie running store. Many shops also offer coaching for a variety of goals, so if your runner has expressed a desire to get faster at the 5K or to improve form for injury prevention, connect them with a certified professional who can help make those dreams reality.
Nobody does it alone. Runner parents make it happen any way they can – whether that means training on treadmills during naptimes or pushing strollers around the same city block to stay close to the house in case of tantrum – but, there are days when we just need to get away.
Put a series of guaranteed babysitting dates on the calendar that coincide with your runner’s longest training runs or biggest races. This one costs nothing, but carries deep value. Happy parents make the best parents.
Like gear, this one requires at least some knowledge of personal preference, but it also shows that you put thought into finding a local service or professional who can help your runner stay injury and illness-free.
Massages are a standard option as is myofascial release. You could also get your runner sessions at centers offering NormaTec compression boots, cryotherapy, or saunas. Some places even offer memberships for regular maintenance.