For some, running is a way of life. People are so addicted to hitting the pavement, they'll wake up early, stay up late, or reschedule their weekend plans in order to clock in some serious miles. Understanding the true runner's high — and the gadgets that are able fuel it — can be a challenge. But as long as you have free time and a decent pair of running shoes, running can quickly become your next favorite form of exercise.
And there's no better time to get into it than now. With New Year's behind us, now is the perfect time to make good on that resolution and start. To really make yourself accountable, try taking on the task with a running buddy. When you have a friend who wants to get into running as much as you do, you have a built-in support system: This person will motivate you to wake up in time for your planned early-morning jog when even your sunrise-simulating alarm clock just isn't cutting it.
To celebrate your new running partnership, surprise your running buddy with a token of your appreciation. Snap up the pick that says, "We're in this together, bud, so don't quit on me now!" To help you find the perfect gift, we've put together a list of the essentials for new runners. Not only will your gift be practical and well loved, but your friend will appreciate it for all her warm-ups, workouts, and cool-downs to come (or, at least, until she wears it out during your numerous long-distance runs).
MinkPink "Don't Care" Crop Top , $12, Amazon
Getting into a new running routine doesn't mean abandoning your other fave exploits, like brunch. (Priorities, right?) Get you and your friend matching tops that show there's no shame in your brunch game, sweaty hair and all!
Roker Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds , $20, Amazon
These wireless earbuds make jamming out to Queen Bey while hitting a personal record totally easy. No cords to tangle, ear hooks for continuous, crystal-clear sound, and a rechargeable lithium battery means 4.5 hours of bliss. Best of all? These earbuds work with iPhones, iPads, Androids, and Windows smartphones.
Yiko Sport In-Ear Headphones , $19, Amazon
If remembering to charge wireless earbuds is definitely a recipe for disaster, snap up a set that lets you plug in and go. Compatible with all your gadgets and featuring an in-line volume control (no more fumbling around with your phone during sprints), these edgy earbuds are exactly what you need to hit your stride.
Muscle Relief Mat
SpikyLife Mat , $65, Amazon
Running is great exercise, but it's not without its aches and pains, too. Keep muscles tension-free with this stress-relieving mat that will keep your body relaxed and run-ready. Stretch out for 10 minutes, and let the little rosebuds increase blood flow in soft-tissue areas for the ultimate release.
Running & Fitness Workout Belt , $20, Amazon
Keep your phone, wallet, cards, and keys right where you can see them — without having to look at an eyesore in the process. This belt can be worn over your workout gear for easy access to your running playlist, plus the moisture-wicking material is machine-washable.
Topaz Fitness Massage Foam Roller , $26, Amazon
This foam roller is definitely the tool all runners should store around the house. The high-density rubber spikes help your pal get her muscles ready before her workout — and recover afterwards. The massaging ball is perfect for giving much-needed relief to hands and feet, too.
Balega Hidden Comfort Running Socks , $9, Amazon
Hey, who doesn't love getting socks as gifts? When it comes to running especially, these socks mean the difference between a comfortable run and a foot full of blisters. This pair features comfy cushioning for impact resistance, as well as mesh ventilation paneling to keep your pal's feet cool and dry during her run.
A Great Read
Running for Women: Ditch the Excuses and Start Loving Your Run , $12, Amazon
A lot of people want to start running, but they aren't quite sure where to start. This book will get you (and your friend) off the couch and on the pavement — with great tips, delicious pre-run recipes, and inspiring stories.
Active Sport Headbands , $15, Amazon
Nothing is worse than continuously brushing back sweaty fly-aways back from your face. Eliminate the problem with a set of braided, slip-proof headbands outfitted with a silicone lining to ensure they stay put.
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Images: Fotofolia (1); Amazon (9)