Cyber Monday: An endurance holiday gift guide

Welcome to Cyber Monday, the day when people are back to work after the Thanksgiving break and eagerly killing time in the office by shopping online.

And, so, today we celebrate all things retail in the blog with ideas for what to get the runner, cyclist, triathlete on your Christmas list.

First, even though it is Cyber Monday, see if you can support one or more of your local running stores. Could you find a better deal online? Possibly. But in store you not only get the warm feeling of supporting local business but also a wealth of knowledge and expertise. That’s worth the time and gas money.

But what to look for in the first place?

For stocking stuffers or small gifts, consider items nearly every athlete needs, things like socks, gloves, arm warmers, swim caps, Body Glide or Chamois Butt’r. Hats are also a good bet whether they be of the winter variety or lightweight versions, like the ones from Headsweats.

There are always the big ticket items, like new bikes and wetsuits, for those who have been extra good this year (or those looking for redemption after a year of being not so good.)

Other items to consider: bike helmet, triathlon transition bag (from personal experience, this is a great gift to receive) or their favorite running shoes (I’ve converted into a K-Swiss girl myself). Sports performance watches can range from simple heart rate monitors to elaborate GPS-enabled training partners with the most popular brands Garmin, Polar and Timex. Things to consider with watches range from desired features (how much information do you want?) to size (what will be most comfortable on your wrist?). As these are training gizmos note that color and style in some models may be limited, which disappoints some of us who like a bit of fashion with our heart rate zones and average pace.

While MP3 players are traditional holiday gifts, the newest twist are swim MP3 players which allow you to listen to your favorite tunes while doing laps in the pool. I have no personal experience with them, but I know several people who thoroughly enjoy the music, especially on long swim days. The most popular models are available from  FINIS and H2O Audio.

Other good bets include a gift certificates for bike tune-ups, race entries and training programs. Favorite nutrition items are usually welcomed gifts by the athlete, as we tend to go through more gels and tubs of sports drink mix than we care to calculate. In the realm of gear, anything using the word “wicking” is generally good and anything using the word “compression” is trendy.

A special note when buying for females: Some women absolutely cannot stand the color pink. Others are thoroughly obsessed by it. Be wise to note if the athlete on your list falls into either one of these camps. (Santa, I have no strong feelings regarding pink. I like it, but feel no compelling need to have it.)

In the jewelry department, I discovered Gracie & Me Design through my good friend Tara. After a few very nice emails with designer Barbara, I ordered my post-Ironman gift for myself: a double-stacked charm necklace with “140.6” and “Montreal” stamped on each. The ordering processes was simple and personal and the piece arrived over the weekend, much to my delight. The shop is part of Etsy, a social commerce site focused on handmade and vintage items. It’s worth checking out and I highly recommend Gracie & Me Design.

Oh, and by the way, if Santa is reading this, I could really use a new pair of swim goggles (from TYR, the Femme T-72 Ellipse Metallized), a new bike helmet,  a supply of  Clif and Luna bars and a box of Honey Stinger Waffles.

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