Confession time: I go a little overboard at the holidays. My problem? I see things I just know that my family would like and can’t resist. So then I find I have 3 things for my dad, 6 things for my daughter, and nothing for others on my list. I combat this tendency by keeping a detailed spreadsheet detailing gift ideas, what’s purchased, what’s wrapped, what’s shipped – this way I can add ideas as I think of them. I love the holidays and I love seeing the smiles when they open presents – it’s my favorite time of year.
So what do you get for the triathlete in your life? Especially if you’re on a budget? I have done tons of research on products and thought I’d share a few of my favorites, along with some other fun gift ideas. So to help you out, I’ve compiled gift recommendations for the triathletes in your family – 25 Gifts for the Triathlete Under $50.
UPDATE – I also have another gift guide just published in 2016- 10 Gift Ideas for Triathletes – that you can find here.
First, what you have to understand as the gift-giver is that triathlon as a hobby is a money-sucker. So any gift that’s related to the sport is going to be a fabulous thing. There are endless gadgets that triathletes convince themselves that they “need” for that competitive advantage, or simply to make life easier – from the latest Garmin GPS watch to cycling power meters to treadmills. I don’t know about you, but these are not in my gift-giving budget this holiday season. My family tends to stick with the $30-50 range for gifts, and my spouse might give me something a little more expensive sometimes, but not always. So I’m always looking for gift ideas under $50!
I’ll separate these out into five categories to make it easy to shop – swimming gifts, biking gifts, running gifts, training gifts, and racing gifts.
~~SWIMMING GIFT IDEAS~~
When I started using swimming “toys”, I noticed a huge difference in my training. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Lap counter. If the triathlete in your life isn’t already using a fancy Garmin watch that tracks laps in the pool, consider an affordable lap counter. This was actually my Christmas present last year and it totally saved me the stress of coming up with tricks to not lose count of my laps once I started going beyond 10 round-trips in the pool. Pool swimming can be monotonous, and being able to think about something other than “oh no – I lost count!” can help relax you and ease your tension while swimming so that you can focus on what you’re there to do.
2. Pull buoy. A pull buoy is an affordable tool to help a swimmer adjust body positioning and upper body strength in the water. Basically you pop the pull buoy between your legs, use your arms as usual, and don’t kick. You know you are doing something wrong if you’re like me and pop out a pull buoy “baby” every once in a while while swimming down the lane – mine pops out of my legs and appears at the top of the water. It’s a good clue for me that I need to adjust a few things!
3. Swimming fins – short option. I have these Finis Zoomer fins, which are shorter fins. I like them a lot, although I’m still getting used to them, never having used fins before! The shorter length is supposed to help promote a shorter, faster kick.
4. Swimming fins – long option. My next swimming toy purchase will be longer fins – I want to see the difference between the previous ones and the longer ones. Longer fins can help with technique and strength when swimming.
5. Swim Paddles. I have noticed a huge difference in my stroke technique since I started to train with paddles. It has really shown me where in my stroke I was losing the effectiveness of the motion, and turned things around to make me more efficient. I use these Speedo paddles, but there are a lot of other options out there.
~~BIKING GIFT IDEAS~~
1. Garmin Speed/cadence sensor. This little gadget is under $50 and can make a big difference in cycling performance. Double check if your triathlete has a watch that this is compatible with – it was enlightening to see what my cadence was, compared to what I wanted it to be!
2. Insulated water bottles. There is nothing like cycling on a hot day and reaching down to grab a sip of water and – ugh! – hot water. My au pair gave me an insulated water bottle for Christmas last year and it’s been fabulous for keeping water cooler longer while out for a ride.
3. Reflective vest. Safety while on the bike is of utmost importance, and I’ve started wearing a reflective vest to improve my visibility when biking, especially if I bike commute with my dad. You can go for standard yellow, or add some fun and get a pink one like mine.
4. Smartphone handlebar bag/mount. While it’s not debatable that using a cell phone while biking is completely unsafe, it can be handy to have your phone nearby for GPS mapping purposes. A handy little bag holds your keys and other belongings, while displaying your phone’s screen – but be sure not to get distracted while riding! It seems like a great idea for riding on the bike trainer too, where you might have music or streaming video to keep you entertained while you pedal.
5. Bicycle-themed jewelry. Accessorizing with a bicycle theme is fun – last year I got my dad these cycling cufflinks for Christmas.
I also came across these bicycle wheel cufflinks that are really cute! Too bad my dad doesn’t need another set of cufflinks!
It’s a neat way for a man to accessorize while showing their love for biking. For the ladies, the cycling jewelry options are more plentiful, such as necklaces and earrings.
~~RUNNING GIFT IDEAS~~
1. A few pairs of running socks. No joke, a pack of Balega socks were my Mother’s Day present last year. I commend my husband for going to the running store and identifying my favorite socks, but I had really been hoping for a Garmin running watch. But hey, we can’t all wish for something over $50, right? Anyhow, Balega is my favorite, and Feetures are another great brand of socks. I use both of these brands for cycling too.
I also use the Ultimate Direction Meow, which is made for women specifically. It holds a bit more than my SPIBelt – so I switch back and forth depending on the needs of the run/race. If I need my phone, car key, a couple of gels, and a $5? I use the Meow.
3. Knuckle Lights. I seriously love these things, and I reviewed them almost a year ago (find that here). It’s a great gift option for anyone who runs outside at this time of year when the sunlight is scarce. I use mine all the time, and they give great coverage of the area in front of me when I’m running.
4. Fitness/Running Headphones. Headphones that stay in while you run and are sweat-proof are a dream come true. I only wear headphones outside selectively because of safety concerns, but I can’t survive a treadmill run (or a bike trainer ride) without them! Check out Yurbuds or Snuggbuds to suit the needs of your triathlete’s active lifestyle.
5. Hats and visors. A fabulous hat or visor is a wonderful thing. I’m an ambassador for Headsweats, because I love the headwear – it keeps the sweat out of my face and stays put. Use YOUSIGNEDUP25 for 25% off at the Headsweats website.
~~TRAINING & RACING GENERAL GIFT IDEAS~~
1. Compression socks. Training for triathlons is hard work and it’s hard on your body, and compression is key for muscle recovery after big brick workouts or races. I’ve been wearing PRO Compression Marathon socks (review here)- I highly recommend them! I just ran the Philadelphia Marathon on Sunday and wore them the rest of the afternoon. If my legs could have talked, they would have thanked me.
2. ROAD ID. I talk about Road ID all the time here, especially since I was grabbed/groped while running back in May. I take my personal safety while running and cycling more seriously now than I ever did before. Road ID carries individual wristband, ankleband, or shoe tag ID tags that contain emergency contact information. They also have other safety products – I just ordered myself a new Road ID along with a flashing light for safety when running in the dark.
3. Triathlon Transition Bag. Getting your gear to the race is like a whole extra sport in triathlon! The amount of stuff involved was a shock to me after running races for so many years. You’re not just showing up dressed in your running attire, you’ve got a bike, cycling shoes, running shoes, swimming accessories, hydration, nutrition – there is so much stuff involved. I’ve been using a transition bag, and it helps to keep all my things organized. The one I’ve been using is more than $50, but you can find other options that are more budget-friendly. I see a lot of people using this TYR Alliance transition bag, and most of the color options are under $50.
4. Foam Roller. Much like compression, foam rolling is all about helping your muscles recover from the stress and strain of training and racing.
5. Transition Mat. At a triathlon, the athlete needs a small towel or mat to lay out all their gear, right under the bike wheel at the rack. You can use an old hand towel, or you can use a bath towel folded, but it’s pretty neat to have a mat specifically made for triathlon. It won’t rumple up and get kicked around as much as a towel, and your triathlete can find his/her spot a lot quicker if they are running into transition out of the swim looking for a brightly colored mat.
~~EXPERIENCES, NOT THINGS~~
The holidays aren’t all about “things” – consider giving a gift that shows that you care enough to encourage and support your family member or friend through their triathlon journey. Here are some ideas for experiences, not things that you could give as a gift.
1. A homemade coupon for $50 towards a race registration fee. There’s nothing that we triathletes love more than putting our training to the test on race day. Is there a triathlon in your area that you know he/she will love? Print out the race registration page, and hand-mark “-$50” with a note from you on how you can’t wait to cheer for your athlete on race day!
2. Pay for one month of their gym membership. Depending on how much your triathlete pays for a gym membership, sponsoring a month of it can be a great gift under $50. The gym enables me to do strength training, work out with a friend, attend a cycling class, or try something new to get out of a training burnout rut.
3. Stride clinic gait analysis. Does your local running club or running store hold a stride clinic? Consider sending your triathlete to get their stride and form evaluated. This could help him/her avoid injury and improve their running technique.
4. Membership to a triathlon or running club. Clubs are a great way to meet friends with similar interests, find training partners, and get information to help further your skills. Many clubs have membership fees less than $50 for the year (both my tri club and my running club fall into this category!) – if your triathlete isn’t a member already, surprise them with a membership! Clubs can also offer discounts to local and online retailers, as well as on local race registrations that can benefit the athlete year-round.
5. Post-race sports massage. After a race, the muscles are aching, the joints are creaking – there’s nothing better than getting it all worked out by a professional. While massages tend to run more than $50, you could either get a gift card to a massage location near the triathlete’s home, or look into massage schools for lower-cost options.
I hope this gives you some ideas for gifts for the triathlete in your life. I’ve compiled all the recommendations that you can find on Amazon.com into an e-store for you for ease of shopping – have fun shopping for that special triathlete in your life!
Let me know in the comments if you have questions or want other suggestions – or you can tweet me or post on the wall of my Facebook page! If you use any of these suggestions, share a photo of it and tag me on Instagram! For more great gift ideas, check out Run to the Finish’s stocking stuffers for runners post with a big gift guide linkup!
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What’s on your holiday wish list this year? Are you trying to find a gift for a triathlete?
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