I don't particularly care for the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years' Day.
As an athletically-inclined person, there are too many stressors which have little other rationale than to detrain us. If it's not social functions which we feel compelled to attend, it's "mandatory" time with people we would much rather avoid, less-than-healthy foodstuffs and alcohol, and so on.
And that's talking strictly about the workplace.
Add the demands of those extended family members who don't understand our compulsion to run...or work out...nearly every day, traffic patterns (and motor vehicle operators) thicken exponentially as we approach even the smallest of shopping centers.
That's it. Enough.
Suzanne is terribly smart about the "shopping thing." She begins her end-of-year holiday shopping not long after the beginning of the year; if she sees something which a friend or loved one might like she'll buy it, storing it in her "chick cave." (Yes, there are such things. She also calls it her office space, but really it's the feminine version of my "man cave.")
Giving gifts? Sure. I like to make it something meaningful, like a good book. If I know a friend has a particular passion, I'll try to focus toward it. My close friends and family know I'm all about things endurance-related or kinda-sorta (un-)healthy; gift cards for the local coffee/bakery, or a case of really good beer is something more close to my heart. Otherwise, athletic socks and clothing items will do.
A guy can only get so many pairs of running socks or coffee mugs before things tend to lose their "significance." If I were to write a "Dear Santa" letter the wish list would most likely be limited.
Here's a couple of items - definitely higher in price - which most running enthusiasts might find special:
Be fortunate enough to run faster than your peers and contemporaries every so often, or do enough long distance events, and you're likely to have a lot of award or finisher medallions. My good friend Dennis Funchess has three or four small boxes mounted on his dining room wall, velvet-lined, dark wood, with possibly half-a-dozen finisher medals mounted on them. While many participant awards now have ribbons which rival their hanging, it's the bling that appears to be the thing. The high-end wood-framed boxes of a size which would hold a decades' worth of serious event participation start in the triple-digit range, but the surreptitious snagging of a dozen medals, followed by a visit to your local crafting store and a few hours of wiring and hot-gluing would make for a meaningful giftie. What better gift than to take all that nylon and pot metal off the hangers in the hallway and put them on that runner's "I Love Me" wall?
Another item which runners collect faster than the average human being are event t-shirts. Whether the person participates or supports the event the chances are very strong they have a shirt from the experience. And if you or your friends ever get into the world of race directing you will never lack for shirts. If you're like I am the chances are slim you're EVER going to wear a "Jingle Bell," "Firecracker," or "Turkey Trot" event shirt. However, there's nothing that says you can't take those well-designed shirts and with a little love (and some time, and a few bucks to someone who knows what they're doing...) have a colorful throw blanket or comforter for around the house...or to hang up on the garage wall. Starting price for a small lap blanket can be as little 60 dollars, and skyrocket from there up into the hundreds for a queen-sized job.
What says "I know you love your running" like a training camp? Running enthusiasts love nothing better than to tie a long weekend or a week away from it all to a place where they don't have to do much that doesn't resemble their favorite activity. A running vacation weekend at a camp in the Great Smokies will run about a hundred bucks a day. Or you can choose a running-friendly place and do your own thing. Suzanne and I tried this about two years ago in Key West, and we had a fantastic time; we ran in the morning, bicycled during the day, and walked in the evening.
And if your special runner is truly self-coached but could use a little direction, perhaps some fitness testing at the local college exercise physiology lab, a six-month training consultation with a running or fitness coach, or something as comfortable as three months' worth of sports massages?
I'm not necessarily saying that gift giving needs an "outside of the box" approach, but there are some ideas which, given a little planning and subterfuge, can mean so much to your running friend.
Let's not see each other at the mall, okay?