I was asked earlier today, "What should I get a runner for Christmas?" Without knowing the runner in question--their needs or what they might already have--I could only answer with what I consider to be some of my favorite running related gifts. So if you are currently trying to determine what to get that runner on your list, here are those suggestions.
1) Investing in a GPS running watch changed my running life forever. April 14, 2010 was the day, and I would never be the same. A watch like the Garmin 610 (my current device) allows runners to train in a more disciplined and effective way by determining mileage, pace, intervals, elevation, etc., etc., etc.. The watch syncs directly to your computer for detailed online training logs, charts, and maps. This might be a bit pricier than you were looking to spend, but the current Amazon offering is really a great deal, and it will be shipped by Christmas if purchased today! Make sure your runner doesn't already have a similar device, but this is a fantastic way to encourage someone to keep on running.
2) The great thing about running is that you can run anywhere; around home, while traveling, in town, or away from civilization. Bring the shoes and off you go. Because of this it is critical that you have some sort of identification on your person. It's usually not practical, nor advisable, to carry along a driver's license or other form of card ID, but items from ROAD ID are perfect for wearing or strapping to your shoe. There are several styles, colors, and types. Usually somewhere between $17 - $25 and you have all the information you need engraved onto your selected item. I've been wearing a ROAD ID bracelet for many years, and have fortunately never had to rely upon it for providing medical information, but I have found it necessary to remember my wife's phone number after a particularly draining race!
3) Runners always need socks. Find your runner's favorite pair and put a few under the tree or in the stocking. If you don't know, I personally think Swiftwick is one of the best (hint-hint). The lighter the better and they have been especially durable.
4) For $1/issue (when subscribed for two years), Runner's World magazine is the absolute best bargain out there. From beginner to elite, RW is top notch. I have learned more, and laughed more, from Runner's World than from any other source. Once you read through your first edition, you will find yourself behaving like the little boy, Raphie, in Christmas Story that can't stop checking the mailbox for his decoder ring everyday! It is that good - promise.
5) If you still aren't sure what to gift your runner--maybe you don't know the size, and they aren't into reading, and they already have a watch--then how about paying their registration fee for an upcoming Run For God 5k program (Feb 2nd - April 27th at River Oaks in Clemmons, NC) or for an upcoming race (perhaps the ROCC 5k on May 2nd in Clemmons, NC). And to really make it a Christmas to remember, sign up with them and run along!