Holiday Gift Guide for Runners and Triathletes

Holiday Gift Guide for Runners and Triathletes
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Greetings, Shoppers!

Welcome to December: the month of Mall Madness, Parking Lot Rinse-and-Spin, and Shopping with the Zombies.

Wouldn’t you rather be out on the trails?

Lucky for all of us, these days we can buy most anything we want online. The problem is, there’s so much stuff — how do you find just the right gift for your the runner or triathlete, fitness lover or adventure seeker in your life?

Here, as has become my tradition over the past few years, I share with you a few of my favorite things that not only have reasonable price tags, but are made by small businesses that are helping communities and making a difference in the world of endurance sports.

Read on, and you might just find the perfect stocking stuffers, white elephant or Secret Santa gifts for this year. (Check out my suggestions from last year, too.)

So, Dear Santa. This holiday season I’d like you please to bring to my fellow athletes:

1. This “Do Epic Shit!” tank from Betty Designs

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When it comes to dressing the female athlete, Betty Designs can do no wrong. Founder and owner Kristin Meyer has truly revolutionized women’s cycling, swimming and triathlon gear with her bold, edgy kits (check out the Fly collection!) — and has plenty of casual wear items, like this tank (and trucker), to enable you to make a badass statement off the race course, too! I have a few friends who’ve done some truly Epic Shit this year and you can bet they’re getting these for the holidays!

2. This “I just PR’d a little” tank from Skirt Sports

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Skirt Sports revolutionized women’s running in a way no other gear company – even Nike! – has done over the years. More than a decade ago, founder and CEO Nicole DeBoom created the first ever running skirt. She has since made it her mission to empower women in sports and inspire them to be active, no matter what size they wear, and feel good all the while. There are too many skirt models that are as cute as they are functional (hello, thigh pockets, back pockets and mini key-pockets!) and I do have my favorites, but if you’re looking for a fun tee that makes you smile, you can’t go wrong with the “I Just PR’ed a Little” tank.

3. This Gone For a Run Wine Glass

They have pint glasses for runners and triathletes, too!

Cheers!

4. This 2017 Runner’s Streak Calendar

Well, technically it’s a Daily Desk Calendar and yes, I know no one actually needs a big ol’ paper block to remind them what day it is any more. Wouldn’t it the perfect source of daily inspiration for those crazies you know who “streak”, a.k.a. run every day, though? Or anyone, really, who loves running. Right?

5.This Location Coordinates Necklace

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Are you shopping for someone who just completed an epic race or achieved a long sought-after goal? Help them commit that special place to memory – and a piece of beautiful jewelry – with this hand-made destination necklace from PlaidLab Studio. (Check out her Etsy shop more unique, handmade pieces.)

6. The new COMPETE Training Journal by Lauren Fleshman and Róisín McGettigan

This will be my third year of tracking my workouts in these journals. I started with the Believe Training Journal when it first came out and am now on the final weeks of the second edition. Lauren Fleshman and Roisin Dumas update the content each year, so the journals are a daily source of inspiration, in addition of helping me keep track and periodically look back on my training and goals. The perfect gift for an athlete who seeks consistency and adding structure and purpose to their training!

7. This Hyperspace lava-colored tee

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Know a dude who loves bikes and Star Wars? Score! Can’t go wrong with this t-shirt. I got that for HusbandRuns earlier this year and can attest to the high-quality material. (Indeed, it is very soft.) You’ll be supporting Endurance Conspiracy, an athlete-owned and managed company in Boulder, Colorado. Plenty more fun tees, tanks and truckers available on their website.

8. This Tank, T-shirt or Trucker designed for bike lovers

A photo posted by Aleks Todorova (@aleksruns) on

Shameless plug for a tank I made for myself with CafePress and decided to make available to others to buy – because why not? CafePress lets you order all sorts of t-shirt, tank and hat models – I like the racer-back tanks for their versatility. I can wear them on short runs, post-run, or to hang around the house whenever I’m in a summery mood! Check out the other stuff in my Race With Heart shop, too.

9. The gift of (non-athletic!) style

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Last, but not least: If your athlete friends and loved ones are like me, they spend more time in (and money on) athletic gear than they do in “real-life” clothes. And shopping for clothes? It’s a nightmare. It’s ironic, really, that I have such a fun time buying matchy running clothes or cycling kits, but cannot for the life of me put together a decent outfit for a work meeting, casual day out and about, or a night out on the town.

Enter Stitch Fix. I’ll admit I resisted it for a very, very long time. I thought it was one of those “monthly box” blogger fads. But a few months ago I caved in and gave it a try — and I swear, no exaggeration, it has changed my life. Well, my wardrobe! I now have outfits that look good — and different from my usual “jeans and free race t-shirt” getup.

The quick-n-dirty on how Stitch Fix works:

1. You create an account and fill out a super detailed questionnaire about your style and preference. The more details you give, the more information your stylist will have when picking clothes for you! Visual help from Pinterest boards or your Instagram account are super helpful.

2. You schedule your fix and a stylist (human being) will select five pieces for you based on your preferences. Once you receive your fix, you’ll try them on and decide which ones to keep and which ones to send back in the prepaid envelope they’ve included in your box. Also included in the box is a style card with recommendations on how to pair the clothes with other stuff from your closet. Personally, I just paired them with each other, because my closet was so outdated!

3. The $20 stylist fee will be applied towards the items you decide to keep. If you keep all five, you’ll get a 20% discount.

4. You can schedule to receive new “fixes” as often as weekly, or spread as far as every three months. You can reschedule a fix at any time.

5. That’s it!

Phew! I didn’t mean to make this so long, but I’ve actually been so excited to finally get some decent items in my wardrobe without having to go to the store and try things on (and end up buying jeans, which I’ll later match with race shirts, anyway).

If all that sounds appealing, grab a Stitch Fix gift card — your friends will be thanking you for a long time!

Happy shopping, happy gifting – and many, many happy miles on the trails!
 

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are referral/ affiliate links.

These are a few of my favorite things: Gifts for Runners and Triathletes

These are a few of my favorite things: Gifts for Runners and Triathletes
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So, Black Friday. I never quite got into it. I mean, why fight in a Walmart parking lot at 10 pm on Thanksgiving (I can’t even stay up that late), when every single merchant out there is offering crazy deals online already?

If you hate going to the mall at this time of year — or any time, really — chances are that, like me, you’ll be doing most of your holiday shopping online or at your favorite small businesses. So I decided to put together a list of my favorite things, many of which happen to be on sale through Cyber Monday, or the end of November.

If you’re looking for gifts for your runner or triathlete friends, I hope these suggestions will spark some ideas:
 

The price we pay for good runner legs: bad runner feet

Marathon runners take 40,000 to 45,000 steps, and that doesn’t include walking around after the finish. How many more in training, I don’t even want to know. It’s no surprise that a runner’s feet are beat-up, callused things that rarely have all 10 toenails present, plagued by the dreaded plantar fasciitis or some other -itis… They deserve to be pampered.

I was recently in a running shoe store trying out new shoes, when this foot massage roller caught my eye. I was in my socks anyway, so I decided to give it a try and… ohemgee so good! (And I never say ohemgee!). And for $10? Yes please! I’ve been rolling out my feet regularly while I sit at my computer working, and – no other way to put it – they’re in heaven!


 

Flip flops that won’t flop

Earlier this year, meanwhile, I was feeling the marathon training miles build up in my feet like never before. My coach insisted that I stop wearing flip flops… but it was summer! And hot! What was I supposed to do?

A friend told me about this brand of flip flops called Oofos and after asking around, all I got from runners was incredibly positive feedback. So I ordered a pair and oh yeah: I am never going back to regular flip flops, ever again! Oofos have a thicker sole that feels super soft on the bottom of your feet, and the thong reaches further back around your foot, so the flip doesn’t flop. You’re wearing flip-flops, yet you feel as if you were in your cushiest sneakers. Not to mention, they come in all sorts of fun colors and have extra-wide sizes. Perfect to switch into after a race, go to the pool, or for walking miles and miles during those hot summer days!


 

Loosen up the legs

And butt. Let’s not forget the nemesis of almost every runner I’ve ever met: tight muscles. If you (or your runner) doesn’t own a foam roller yet, that is obviously something you need to remedy ASAP. Physical therapists usually recommend starting with the basic kind, which is usually white in color and least dense. Once you get used to that (and it becomes all bendy, which might not take that long with regular use), you can progress to a blue, medium density roller. And finally, the black, high density roller.

I’ve been using the blue kind for years and have been meaning to upgrade for a while now. Finally pulled the trigger a few weeks ago with this deep tissue massage foam roller and oh boy, talk about taking things up a notch. It’s been a painful experience so far, but I’m already feeling my quads get better (using it daily has had a lot to do with that, too).


 

Must look good while running

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Skirt Sports. Founded by triathlete Nicole DeBoom, Skirt Sports is a small, women-run company in Colorado that seeks to empower women – of any size! – through sport and, well, with incredibly cute and high-quality running skirts (and capris, tights, tops, tanks… you get the idea). I bought my first Skirt back in 2006 and have been a loyal fan ever since. Since 2014, I am proud to be a Skirt Sports Ambassador!

Skirt Sports is running a Black Friday sale through Cyber Monday:

Discount codes cannot be used during the sale, but any time after that, you can use code SSCCM20 for 20% off any item (regular-priced or sale).

My current Skirt obsession: anything in the Tantrum print:

A photo posted by Aleks Todorova (@aleksruns) on


 

Badass is Beautiful

Speaking of sales and beautiful clothing, another ultra-favorite brand of mine, Betty Designs, is currently offering 10% off everything (including sales items), through November 29. Betty Designs is owned by Kristin Mayer, who has an incredible talent for designing the most beautiful swimming, cycling and triathlon gear I’ve ever owned. Read more about Kristin’s story here.

Impressed? To support yet another women-owned small business this shopping season, use code THANKS2BETTY.

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I recently found out that I was accepted to Team Betty 2016 and could not be more thrilled to join a group of #BadAss women on the triathlon scene next year! My current Betty obsession, the Garden Party trucker, $29.99:

A photo posted by Aleks Todorova (@aleksruns) on


 

Books for the soul

First up, a runner’s classic, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. I dare you to begin reading that book and not want to lace up and go running not even 10 pages into it. Truly, one of the most wonderful books about running ever written. You won’t find any training advice in it, but you will definitely find inspiration and understanding.

For those looking for a solid training book: even though I’m not a fan of using cookie-cutter plans to train for a race, I found a lot of useful information in Runner’s World Run Less, Run Faster, especially on setting realistic goals in training and racing. (Unrealistic time goals are what lead to the majority of injuries in training and disappointing results, especially among marathon runners… but don’t listen to me, read the book.)

Finally, another classic that I’ve been reading for the past few weeks. (Not that it isn’t an interesting read, on the contrary — it’s just quite long and I’ve been busy!) For history lovers: Bowerman and the Men of Oregon: The Story of Oregon’s Legendary Coach and Nike’s Cofounder.
 

Believe, Train, Adapt, Compete

I’ve had a training journal since I started training for my first marathon back in 2003. I find it incredibly helpful, not just to keep a tally of those miles (I do that online now, anyway), but for motivation. Last year, I got the first edition of the Believe Training Journal — the one in classic red – and instantly fell in love. There’s much more than motivation on those pages. You will find a wealth of information and inspiration! I just ordered a new one and can’t wait to start using it, just as soon as the last two weeks on my original one are filled up! (And yeah…. I had trouble deciding between the black and lavender… so I got both. I guess I’m all set until 2017!)


 

So that’s it from me this shopping season. There are, of course, lots of other stuff you could buy for your runner or triathlete – medal hangers, jewelry, safety items, a Garmin 920XT, a bike (one could never have too many bikes!). But I will leave the rest for you to research and tell me: What are your favorite running or triathlon things?


Disclosure: This posts contains affiliate links. That doesn’t affect the item price when you shop, but any time you do buy using one of those links, a tiny percentage of your purchase goes to this blog. Thank you for your support.

8 (Totally Imaginary) Must-Have Running and Triathlon Gear, Apps and Accessories

8 (Totally Imaginary) Must-Have Running and Triathlon Gear, Apps and Accessories
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In the February issue of Triathlete Magazine, Jesse Thomas wrote about the most awesome, totally imaginary tri products he wished were real. He crowdsourced ideas from his fans on social media, so the collective tri geekiness came up with some great stuff — like a business casual tri suit (for seamless transition from training to work); or a laser helmet attachment that tells you if you are in the draft zone (red) or out (green). And my favorite:

“An automatic spouse-appeaser option when you sign up for a race: You click the box and on race day she gets flowers and a babysitter.”

beer

(Or for the husbands: a case of fancy local brew to drink with the bros. Cheers to that.)

As a runner and triathlete, I often find myself daydreaming of things that would be so cool to have – if only they were real. (Because no triathlete is ever in possession of enough gadgets, you know?) So if I may, here are a few of my humble additions to Jesse’s master list.

First, as a runner, I wish for:

1. The one magic shoe.

I wish there existed only one single brand and type of running shoe in the whole world. It would magically mold itself to our feet and become the optimal shoe for our weight and gait, thus enabling each runner to run efficiently and injury free, in perpetuity. The best part? You could get your shoes 100% personalized with your favorite colors, patterns and inspirational quotes.

2. The app or device that syncs with my belly.

I wish there was an app or Garmin-like device that connects to my stomach via bluetooth and tracks all calories I take in, along with macro and micro-nutrients. It would then sync with Strava, RunKeeper or any other fitness app, to match those against the calories I burn in training — and alert me whenever I’m off my ideal nutrient intake for optimal training and race performance. As a bonus, it would make dinners suggestions based on my daily data, complete with easy recipes and one-click ordering and delivery options for all ingredients (or meals).

3. A self-cleaning, odor-free porta potty.

Self explanatory.

4. Self-cleaning, odor-free running clothes?

Or any kind of clothes, for that matter… but who are we kidding. Running clothes are the only clothes we have these days.

Now, as a triathlete, I’d like to add a few more things to the list:

5. The one magic saddle.

That molds to every cyclist or triathlete’s butt, for maximum comfort without compromising aerodynamics. So we don’t ever have to worry about reapplying chamois butter, ever again.

6. A 1.2-mile long swimming pool.

To enable the perfect time trial for your 70.3 or 140.6.

8. A bike with self-pumping tires.

Because I always forget before a long ride!

8. A self-cleaning house.

The trick is this. It only cleans itself while I train and the area cleaned is commensurate with time and quality of training. The smarter you train, the cleaner your house when you get home. Bonus: extra-special self-cleaning service happens during races, but is independent of race performance – because no matter where you placed, you gave it your best!

–> What are some imaginary products on your wish list?
 
 
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