Christmas is a time for holiday parties and social time with friends and if you’re like me, many of your friends are triathlon enthusiasts or athletes of some sort. Finding good gifts that fit the “Secret Santa” gift exchange or general “Thank You” category that won’t blow your budget, can be a challenge. So I thought of some gifts that I think most athletes would like, or at least find useful, that aren’t terribly expensive and aren’t embarrassing like some of the novelty gifts from the adults-only store can be.
1. Socks: Yes, athletes like socks. They like fancy, engineered for better running comfort types of socks which, although expensive, still fit within the small/thoughtful gift budget. You can safely give a pair of good running socks to the triathlete or runner in your life and get tears of joy. Tuck in some elastic laces and Compeed or other blister bandages and your gift is complete.
2.Music/ear buds/headphones: Most athletes like to listen to music during training sessions. Any gift that supports this will be appreciated. I am a person who is tearing the house apart trying to find earbuds for a training ride so having more than one set is excellent. On the higher end of the spending spectrum, noise cancelling headphones are the number one thing I pack before getting on a plane. Not listening to the engine during a flight helps to calm my panic when flying and not having to hear the ten babies crying in the row behind me is also helpful for relaxation. I have both the Bose and the Beats kind and the Bose ones are much better – but they are an expensive gift.
3.Chocolate: It is rare that I meet an athlete who does not like chocolate and does not include chocolate in their diet somewhere, even when they are choosing to be most strict with their food choices. Somehow, chocolate has managed to completely eliminate itself from the “bad” food category. If you choose a dark chocolate, most options are also gluten and lactose free, so even the pickiest of eaters will swoon and devour your gift. Red wine to a certain extent also gets a green light for most athletes I know, but it doesn’t get the universal acceptance that chocolate does. A very safe bet is a high quality 70 per cent dark chocolate or even darker and the quantity can be determined by the gift budget. My personal favourites are Lindt’s dark sea salt variety and Chocolove dark chocolate.
4. Quick fills: Most triathletes who are racing have had to throw out or lose their quick fill/air cartridge as soon as they get on a plane during the season. If they are lucky enough to keep them and not flat, the cartridge can actually become too old to be useful, as they do leak over time. A couple of quickfills in the stocking on Christmas morning will be a welcome gift. Alternatively, you could create yourself or buy a full emergency repair kit like the Air Pack from Bontrager https://www.bontrager.com/model/08304 which contains the full complement of flat repair necessities.
5. Goggles: Swim goggles are not overly expensive but when they are added to the rest of the equipment needs of racing they can add up. In addition, an athlete needs different lenses for the pool and outdoors and for each kind of outdoor lighting situation so you can’t go wrong with any variety of goggle. A fresh pair of goggles are a great Secret Santa gift or a great way to offer a gentle hint to that person you swim with about the giant, snorkel-sized goggles they have been wearing for the past few years.
6. Shampoo: Triathletes go through a massive amount of shampoo, body lotion and body wash. It seems it can take almost two days to remove the stink of chlorine from the body. There are shampoos and body washes specifically meant for removing chlorine which would make for an excellent gift. My personal shampoo favorites are the detox shampoo from AVEDA, the apple cider shampoo from Frederik Fekkai and the tea-tree special shampoo from Paul Mitchell. There are actual swimmer’s shampoos as well which can be a great choice but for my hair I prefer and use the above brands. For body wash, USANA makes a natural and orange scented product that really works for getting chlorine off in the first shower.
7. Sunscreen: This seems weird but triathletes go through a lot of it and it is a good message to stay sun-safe. My new favorite zinc based sunscreen is called Sunny Baby and it has amazing staying power. It was my go to sunscreen in Australia and that is a good test of a product in the sun.
8. Gift cards: Okay so a gift card is kind of a cop-out because it is like wrapping up a wad of cash. However, a gift card is excellent if it is for somewhere that an athlete would actually go. A safe bet for places that most athletes will frequent includes coffee shops, juice bars, a natural food store like Whole Foods or gift cards for race entries. In Canada, raceonline.ca is offering gift cards where you could buy your friend entry into a 2015 event. Kickstarting someone’s New Year’s Resolution is a great idea!
So there are some ideas that I can offer based on personal experience appreciating these products. If you are buying gifts for the love of your life you may choose some of the above for their stocking and then splurge on a big ticket gear item like a load generating trainer, race wheels or winter training gear. But if you are buying a thank you gift for your massage therapist who is also a triathlete, or a small gift for your training partner, one of the above might do nicely. If you have any other great ideas, hit me up! I would love to hear them: www.twitter.com/racergirlmel