Running seems like a simple sport: Throw on some sneakers, a T-shirt, and shorts, and go. But if you're a runner or have a runner on your holiday shopping list, you know it can be a lot more complicated than that.
So I asked local running stores what's been flying out of their doors since Black Friday to give you ideas if you have an athlete on your shopping list.
Let's start with a big one: a GPS running watch. Not only does this act as a stopwatch, but it will also let you know instantly how far you've run, how fast you're going, and, depending on how many bells and whistles you require (and bucks you want to spend), offer customizable data screens and a virtual partner option.
For a basic model, Shawn Costello of the Haddonfield and Moorestown Running Companies recommends the Garmin Forerunner 10. It's the most stripped-down and smallest model that Garmin, the king of the GPS running watch, has ever made. It's $130, and it will track your time and pace. It's a bargain compared with the Garmin Forerunner 610, the company's top-of-the-line running model, which comes in at $349.99 without a heart-rate monitor, $399.99 with it.
The Timex Marathon GPS is also a popular option, said Gerry Fitch at the Athlete's Closet in West Chester. It's $100 and, like the Garmin 10, keeps just speed and distance.
If your holiday giftee does more than just run, he or she might like the Garmin Forerunner 910XT, said Bryan Mahon of Philly Runner.
"It is the only Garmin GPS that you can take underwater," he said. That will cost you $400 without the heart-rate monitor and $450 with.
For women, Costello said, the Nike Element and Nike Thermal Hoodie have been selling well, at $60 and $80, respectively, and the Brooks Nightlife half-zip for $80. All three come in neon colors.
For men and women, the Amphipod Singlet has been a popular gift, she added. It's a reflective vest that looks much like a crossing guard's sash, but designed for athletes. The basic version is $25. For $30, you'll get one with a pocket to carry keys and your ID. The $45 version includes flashing LED lights.
"People want to be illuminated," Costello said, especially this time of year with early sunsets.
If you're not into the crossing guard look, Fitch recommends the Fun Source Safety Light, which is small and clips onto your waist, your arm band, or wherever you want to be lit, and flashes green, red, or blue. It sells for $9.97.
Another option that will also protect you in bad weather is the Asics Reflector Jacket, a lightweight wind- and water-resistant shell at Philly Runner for $90. It comes in neon pink and yellow, and in peacock blue.
If you're looking for stocking stuffers, Fitch said that running-themed Christmas ornaments and magnets have been selling well. They include slogans such as, "Runner Girl" and "Marathoner." The price range is budget- friendly, too - $5 to $8.
Haddon Holiday Heart Run, Haddon Township 5K. Register by 5 p.m. Wednesday at runsignup.com.
Holiday Triple Threat, West Chester, 5 miles as individual or teams of three. Register by Thursday at midnight at active.com.
Seashore Snowball 5K, Lewes, Del. Register day of race. For more information, visit seashorestriders.com.
Browning Ross Winter Series, Glassboro 5K. Register day of the race only. For more information, visit tuffgangrunning.com.
- Jen A. MillerEndText