Unconventional Running Gifts, Offbeat Training Resources, and Personalized Food

Last week as I was completing my long run, I ran by about a hundred other runners in Rock Creek Park. I’m a nerdy guy, so I was evaluating their stride rate, foot strike, pace per mile, and arm carriage.

Then I started to pay attention to what they were wearing – the typical running gear you see runners wearing: technical shirts, tights, shorts, etc. No big deal.Cool Gifts for Runners

But soon I passed an older runner who was wearing a racing singlet over a long-sleeve shirt. The singlet said “A marathon is a 10k with a 20 mile warm-up.” I almost high-fived this guy. That observation is dead-on and the singlet was a lot better than the other gear I saw.

The problem with a lot of running gear these days is that it’s bland (maybe that’s why I bought neon orange trainers) and too commercialized. Where are the unique clothing and running gifts that are so hard to find?

Well, I found them for you. And it wasn’t that hard. Being part of the running community affords me the privilege of interacting with a lot of passionate runners who create their own products. There is a sub-culture of nearly unknown, one-of-a-kind running treasures that I have recently discovered.

If you want to get off the beaten path and find more unconventional ways to indulge in your running, check out some of my favorite products, services, plans, and food. Each one is unlike anything you can buy in a store.

Running Gifts & Training Programs

Steve Spiers, who blogs at Run Bulldog Run, developed the 100 Push Ups training program. Steve won the Cayman Islands marathon last year and boasts a 2:45 marathon PR. He also ran 39 races in 2010, which is damn impressive considering he also ran 11 personal records and won five of those races! The 100 Push Ups training program helps you increase your strength by following a structured six-week plan. There is also a book version if you don’t have a smart phone.

Greg Strosaker blogs at Predawn Runner, where he helps runners find time in their already busy life for running. I frequently talk to Greg about training and writing and consider him a friend, even when his wacky sense of humor leads him to design products like a Beer Stein Coffee Mug (note to self: buy one). He has a bunch of unique gifts for that special runner in your life in the Predawn Runner Store.

Coach Jeff Gaudette has the best runner-specific strength program on the market: Strength Training for Runners which I personally use and absolutely love. The problem with a lot of mainstream training plans is that it doesn’t include any strength work – this program helps you fit in the right strength work to stay healthy.

If you’re tired of the same protein and energy bar, look no further than You Bars. They’re a bit on the expensive side, but I ordered a box of custom bars for my fiancée and they were definitely worth it. You choose the ingredients so you know exactly what you’re putting in your body – perfect for the athlete with specific nutrition needs (high protein, gluten-free, etc).

Patrick McCrann is another Ironman triathlete who has also qualified numerous times for the Boston Marathon. After my experiments with triathlon training and the success I had, I encourage runners to take a break from normal training and get ready for a triathlon. Patrick’s guide Competitive Triathlon in 10 Hours a Week is the best resource I’ve seen to help you dominate triathlon without giving up your life.

David Csonka writes about evolutionary fitness and nutrition (among a host of other unique topics) at Naturally Engineered. David is a proponent of the paleo diet – as am I, with some modifications for runners – and a minimalist runner. He wrote the free barefoot guide Couch to Barefoot which helps you learn about barefoot running and how you can start. If you’re curious about where you should run barefoot, how best to transition, and what resources are there for more information, this guide will help.

Matt Frazier is the author of No Meat Athlete and has several unique products for vegetarian runners. If you’re training for a marathon, be sure to pick up a copy of Marathon Roadmap: The Vegetarian Guide to Conquering Your First Marathon to make sure you’re training well on a plant-based diet. Show your vegetarian pride by getting a “Runs on Plants” technical training shirt or cotton tee. You won’t see many runners sporting these!

Doug Hay is a trail and ultramarathoner who wrote the fantastic training guide for beginning ultrarunners called Discover Your Ultramarathon: A Beginner’s Guide to Running Your First UltramarathonI’ve never ran longer than 26.2, but if I did this would be my first stop.

These unique gifts and resources are what make this sport so vibrant. There is a small community of people who care about the sport and offer different types of products to help other runners. You can’t find these running gifts in major stores – and that’s what I love about them.

What other running guides, unique products, or training programs have you used that you can’t buy at a mainstream store? Let’s share the resources!

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