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David Freeze: Gotta Run

Christmas presents for runners and walkers

All my life, I have heard that running is something that everyone can do and it takes little more than a good pair of shoes. While that is true, there are lots of affordable gifts that enhance the return from the sport. Here are a few suggestions for the runner or walker in your life.

A good pair or pack of socks. Find out what thickness and height of socks that your runner prefers. I like the thin, low ankle dri-fit socks. Dri-fit, always! Some people prefer compression socks, usually just below the knee. Their purpose is to enhance blood flow below the knees. $5-$15.

Replacement insoles for running shoes. Today’s running shoes are better constructed than ever before but sometimes the insoles that come in them aren’t as nice as replacements. I am not sure why this is, but the difference is notable especially if the runner or walker wants a more cushioned ride. $12-$20.

A cold weather toboggan and a pair of gloves. Headed into the coldest months of winter, both are always appreciated. Most runners keep several thicknesses of gloves or mittens on hand and choose the best one for the current weather. $10-$20.

A good indoor/outdoor thermometer. Mine is the first thing that I look at once the lights come on in the morning. $15 and up, with the best selection at Wal-mart.

A box of hand warmers. On those extremely cold days, a little extra warmth helps out. I have heard of runners using them in the gloves and also in the shoes. Once, I saw some on the inside of a toboggan. $6-$10.

A subscription to Running Journal, in my opinion the best running publication on the market, with a ton of columns written by real and experienced runners. Also, the best schedule of upcoming races available anywhere. www.running.net $20

Entry into an upcoming race or two. Check the local racing schedule at www.salisburyrowanrunners.org and pick out the one you want and click the link for additional information complete with where to send the fee. $20-$25 per race. Make it even more special and plan a get-away weekend around a special race with your runner. Priceless!

For those who want to get started running, or get going again, sign them up for an upcoming Beginning Runners Class. You can do this and get more details at www.salisburyrowanrunners.org too. The next one begins on January 9th at First Methodist Church in Salisbury.

Back to running shoes—don’t buy them at a big box store or discount retailer. Take your runner or get them a gift certificate to a real running store that has people who know what makes the right pair of shoes. Things like fit and price are important, but also consider running goals, whether a stability or cushioned shoe is needed, and much more.

I read somewhere the other day that gift certificates are impersonal. Not for runners—send them to Phidippides at the Carolina Mall or Vac and Dash in Albemarle. For shoes and socks, Ralph Baker Shoes does a great job. Ralph Jr. got me started on my current favorite, New Balance 1080.

Consider a gym membership that will enhance the overall fitness of your runner. The YMCA’s and the Forum are great choices. The most successful runners mix in cross training of some type. Swimming, spin classes and weights are just some of the activities that help the runner get stronger and better.

If your runner is also a cyclist or wants to be, send him to Skinny Wheels where they can help with anything from tires to new bikes.

Everyone loves good reading material. There is a wonderful recap of this runner’s cycling journey from California to Chicago on Route 66 available at South Main Book Store, Skinny Wheels Bike Shop, the South YMCA and the Patterson Farm Market in Granite Quarry called “Highway to History.” $13.95.

The last thing—some type of running watch. Having an accurate distance, pace and total time for your run enhances it. A good watch also is a dependable training partner, often inspiring extra effort. I’m a Garmin fan. $100 and up.

The only running event in town this weekend is Saturday’s Girls on the Run celebration 5K at Catawba College. Look for nearly 1,000 participants.

My size is 9 ½ 4E if you were wondering. Have a great week!



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