If you're paying really close attention to this post, especially in the days before Christmas, it's likely you are one step out from going into the doghouse; deep enough you'll mistake it for a covered bridge. It's a sure guarantee my children, my grandchildren and the friends who don't drink that much beer with me will either give me a gift card to a restaurant or to the local running emporium. Frankly, I'm appreciative but a tad underwhelmed. Certainly it is better than shaving soap and a moustache trimming kit, but let's just say it lacks a little bit of imagination. Especially when I only grow my 'stache during Movember.
If I were going to play Santa but only had a few dollars left to spare because the last good pair of running shoes took up a healthy chunk of my athletic budget, here are some of the things I would consider for the running enthusiast on my list...
A race number belt. Most multisport athletes swear by these things, and the latest iterations come not only with a means of clipping on the racer's ever-important race (bib) number, but also have small storage zipper pouches which can hold keys, identification cards, folding money, plastic-wrapped baggies of toilet paper...ten to fifteen bucks, tops.
Shoe pocket. Those zipper belts are great, but perhaps you don't really need to carry a lot, or all you want to carry is a car key. Or you need a different way to attach one of those wonderful accelerometer "footpods" to your running shoes. Nothing says "love," or at least "security," like hook-and-loop fasteners. You can probably find a good pocket for the cost of a Papa John's large one-topping pizza.
Ankle reflectors. There are people who actually don't mind running at all hours of the day or night. In some places it's just too darned hot to run at any time while the sun is out, anyhow. But that's another story.
Running without lighting, reflective or light-colored clothing after dark is just asking for a world of trouble; turning a training run into a hood-ornament modeling session. Once again, a good one is made with spring-loaded plastic, lined with terry-cloth...ten bucks each. So for a Jackson you might be able to keep your running friend from being part of a Lincoln.
Another interesting gift concept: How many times have you been on a training run, come back to your car, and been in need of a cold pack. But you don't want to buy a bag of ice from the local Quickie-Mart...or the local Quickie-Mart is miles away? A box of single-use chemical cold packs could save the day. Break the bag separating the two chemicals, shake, and you have cold therapy at a moment's notice for your bruises, aches, and dingers. It might not be as good as a bag of frozen peas, but at a buck a whack it can't hurt.
At least until you can buy a big slushie.
Here's the last one for now, and another one for which we have triathletes to thank...
Shoelaces are wonderful devices, but they can be a royal pain in the back-side if not at the right tension. Provide a little too much slack and the shoe flops about...or you hit a mud puddle and the shoe stays while you continue onward. Too tight a lace job and the foot doesn't have enough mobility. Either way you end up miserable. And there is nothing worse during the course of a race than to have your shoe's laces decide to not stay the way you set them at the beginning. A pair of elastic laces not only help to keep the shoes at the optimal tension at the beginning of the run, but as your feet swell (mine do, I'm certain yours do too) the shoe still expands, without you having to stop and re-tie. And, they do come in a variety of colors, just in case you're in the mood to match or accessorize your kicks. Depending on the conditions, a single pair of elastic laces can last during the life span of two pairs of shoes.
I hope these few small holiday recommendations help you think about some of the little - and highly needful - things which are important to a running enthusiast. Most, if not all, of these items can be found at either your local running or triathlon shop, or at the major sporting goods chain store.
Have a fantastic Christmas holiday and if you don't have a replacement sockliner for your shoes, that fruitcake is not going to work. You can send it to me; I happen to like the stuff.