I like running and biking in the winter. But it is significantly more fun when you’re prepared. Sometimes that means fully bundled, sometimes that means less bundling and more suckitup for the first 15 minutes in order to get comfortable. Without much ado, here’s my holiday gift guide. It’s pretty close to Christmas (if you do that), plus there are often sales after the big day, so I’m a fan of the lazy route: print a picture of the item you’ve ordered, put it in a big box (maybe with some rocks in there if you really want to fool someone), and give away! Hey, ‘it’s in the mail’ is a great excuse, and buys you a few extra days to actually put in an order (darn mail always takes so long around the holidays… what color of that did you say you wanted?)
My winter essentials, plus some extra gift ideas for the adventurer in your life (mom, you listening?):
- Janji tights. I can’t wait to get these in the new pattern. They’re flattering, they have ankle zippers, a key pocket, and a nice wide waistband that doesn’t ride up. My #1 favorite winter running accessory (rivaled only by the buff, which technically gets more use for biking). Seriously, these are awesome. Strangely enough, I’m not a huge fan of Janji shorts, but your skinny runner friends might be (I’m just not into shorty shorts). Plus, they give to a great cause that runners definitely value – clean water everywhere!
- Wool buff/neckgaitor: This gets used nearly every day in the winter. It’s light and thin enough to wear with multiple layers as a gaitor, but long enough to pull up as a balaclava or just to cover your chin under a helmet strap. Mine has started wearing through in a few places L but still works awesome. Get one, you won’t regret it.
- Headband: necessity. Reflective is good, I like a low profile but fleecy under armour one that I stole from my parents’ house 3ish years ago. Thanks mom!
- Cheap gloves – for running. Want an easy gift that’ll definitely be appreciated? Go with those cheap knit gloves you can find at target – I buy a pair every season. Get the ones with conductive fingers for smartphone/garmin use without exposing hands to that cold wind! Plus, they’re good for wiping snot without shredding your nose (running is gross, get over it).
- Nice gloves. Actually important for winter riding. Fingers and toes are the first to go numb… help them along with some windproof gloves and shoe covers.
- Neon jacket/vest. It gets dark eaaaarrrrrrly now. For most of us, this means running/riding in the dark, or inside. I much prefer running outside, although I do sometimes hit the treadmill. Stay visible and keep in some heat. Until I got a neon orange vest at Pere Marquette, I would always run with my cycling jacket with the sleeves zipped off. The vest is a great option to add visibility without the sweaty tent-effect.
- Long sleeve shirt with thumbholes. Layering is key to winter training comfort, and thumbholes help keep everything in place. Putting on that neon jacket? Don’t lose your sleeves at the elbows! Also consider a longer-than-usual cut; nobody likes frostbite in the gap where tights end and shirt begins.
- We haven’t really hit the icy season in St. Louis yet, but when we do… I go yaktrax, all the way. I’ve tried a bunch of different things, from mini-crampons to soccer-cleat like bungee things to just trail shoes. Yaktrax are the best. They stay put (get the ones with Velcro on top) and give insane grip on ice. On snow, there will always be some instability due to the packing and sliding of the layers, but on ice the coils on the yaktrax dig in like crazy and I have total confidence running and walking (and taking the dog, who might decide that squirrel looks tasty and try to drag me off course).
- Always a good gift idea. Dwayne and friends are embarking on a new venture: Blackflag coffee. Definitely a treat, and a great way to warm up! Plus, caffeine can totally help get you through those winter blues and motivate you to get outside!
- Race entry fee. Your friend/lover/mother/brother is super adventurous and always doing ‘those crazy races’. Those things get expensive! I bet if you gave them an entry, or just some cash toward an entry, they’d give you a shout out and more details than you ever want to hear about a race made possible by your generosity! I know I would J
- Box of clif bars. You might want to check with the recipient first, but I am of the opinion that the holiday clif bars are the greatest thing ever. Particularly iced gingerbread (but pumpkin pie is pretty good too). They’re only available around the holidays, and will definitely be used – what’s easier than grabbing a bar (or three) as you head out for that snowy century!?
- Dog/kid sitting coupons. Maybe they’ve got a long run to do, or will be out of town for the weekend racing. Offering to take care of a pet or (if you’re cool with kids) child helps relieve some of the stress of racing/training. Plus, you get a rental kid/furbaby to spoil for a few hours or days!
Of course, I think the best gift is to spend time with that special someone – whether it’s just a walk around the block as the snow falls, or an all-out multi-day hut trip (sign me up). I hope you have a fantastic holiday season, and here’s to having fun and keeping it warm this winter!
(I didn’t link through to things, but if you have questions feel free to hit up the ‘contact me’ section, or leave a comment and I’ll google it for you)