Christmas is a season of snow, mulled wine, and over indulgence - unless you are training for the myriad of races coming up in the new year. Many, myself included, will be watching the calories and adding the kilometres before hitting some of Hong Kong’s premier races. With this in mind, what are the the top gifts you could buy that special outdoors person in your life? I mean the runner, triathlete or hiker, and not the creepy guy hiding behind the tree with the binoculars.
No matter the type of runner, we have a Christmas gift for them!
The Ultra Runner
This runner just wants to keep going and going, but their hardest challenge is keeping their body in tip top shape to keep putting in the miles. Recovery and rejuvenation is key!
Enter Udo’s 3-6-9 Oil. We cannot live without essential fatty acids (EFAs) but, at the same time, Omega-3 and Omega-6 cannot be synthesised so we need to include them as part of a healthy diet. EFAs increase energy, performance and stamina, strengthen the immune system, improve brain function, aid in weight reduction, and speed recovery - all good things! Udo’s 3-6-9 Oil Blend will help you maintain the optimum level of essential fatty acids as you push your body and its cells to perform at their peak.
Another idea? Post-run the Ultra Runner will always complain about those lingering aches and pains. Whether it is just muscle soreness or ITB issues, the Trigger Point collection of myofascial release rollers will keep them on the trails just a little longer. The GRID is the standard self-massage roller to roll through those tight muscles, knots and kinks, while the TP Massage Ball is great for more targeted areas.
Fast and nimble on their feet, the Sprinter is always looking for an edge to get them from A to B in the shortest possible time, and the Salomon Sense Ultra 4 should be a key weapon in their armory. Despite nudging the scales at an incredibly lightweight 240 grams, they are packed full of Salomon’s best technologies, such as the Sensifit internal sleeve, kevlar Quicklaces, and the grippy Contagrip. They don’t have the super cushioning needed for ultra distances, but head down to your local trail race on the weekend and chances are the speedsters up front are wearing a pair of these.
The “Rich Roll Podcast” Listener
This runner loves the Rich Roll podcast and has great intentions about shedding a few pounds with an organic, vegan diet - but sadly, just loves The Butchers Club a little too much. They need that push off the coffee-and-bacon cliff into the vegetables-and-healthy-eating-sea, but they need to start with baby steps, and that is where the Kenwood 2GoSport Blender fits in.
Fresh fruit and superfood smoothies are a delicious first step towards a healthy eating lifestyle. The 2GoSport comes with two 600ml BPA-free sports bottles, is super easy to use and clean, and will have you making super nutritious, tasty smoothies and protein shakes in no time. Next stop quinoa, tofu and yoga!
The Runner who has Everything
So what on earth do you get the person who has all the gear, all the shoes and all the gadgets? Well, we can only think of one thing that is unique and truly special - a Lloyd Belcher photograph. Lloyd is Hong Kong’s premier sports photographer with a portfolio of stunning outdoor photography, which showcases his first class technical ability and a truly soulful connection with his subjects, be they runners in mid-flight or the natural landscapes. If he doesn’t have a photograph of your loved one, check out his beautiful landscape stills. We love Lloyd’s work and couldn’t recommend his photographs with any higher regard.
They want to go long and they want to go hard. They want to go over this mountain, and that one, and that one over there on the horizon. When they get back, they make sure you know just how far they have gone. But if ain’t on Strava, it didn’t happen. So if you are going to buy them a GPS-enabled watch, which one - bearing in mind that many sports watches come in styles that aren’t exactly going to fit in during the day at the office or even casually...
Unless, of course, you are wearing the Garmin Fenix3, a sports watch won’t look overbearingly sporty in the boardroom with the ability to change watch faces with the Connect IQ face app. But that’s just the start - it features highly accurate tracking courtesy of US GPS satellites combined with the GLONASS network(Russian high tech satellites a la James Bond), a 20 to 50 hour GPS battery life, activity tracking which counts calories burned, a colour display, Garmin’s Run Dynamics (running nerd data) and the ability to tell you when you are moving as quick as a rhino. This is a fantastic watch, that will help any running beginner!
The brand new Garmin Forerunner 235 is another great GPS watch option for beginners. It doesn't have the same versatile looks but weighs just 42 grams, has an in-built wrist heart rate monitor, also features GLONASS compatibility and activity tracking, plus a decent battery life at 11 hours.
Gifts on a Budget
You have the shoes wrapped, you have the bag under the tree and ythe gels hanging on it - but you need one last thing for that special runner as we all love reading about the exploits of others on the trail and their mantras of life.
“Runner” by Lizzy Hawker - It would be fair to say that Lizzy is a bit of a trail running legend. She holds a number of world records, including 24 hours and from Everest Base Camp to Kathmandu, as well as winning the 100km world championships and Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc … four times. She was also voted National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year in 2013. The book isn’t a “how to”, nor does it offer any explanation of how to become a better runner, but simply answers the question, “Why do I run?”, which Lizzy explains through a series of entertaining stories and anecdotes. This ia a gorgeous book that every runner should read.
Some of us, myself included, are usually out on the trail for much much longer than expected. We just aren’t built for speed… yet. We need a bag that can handle those long arduous adventures, carrying everything we could possibly need for any emergency. The Salomon S-LAB Advanced Skin 12L or the Nathan Air Vapor fit the bill perfectly.
We have all seen the Salomon pack out on the trails. Widely regarded as one of the best for ultras, it features a multitude of cleverly designed, easy access pockets, and is constructed from Salomon’s Sensifit powermesh fabric, which wraps around the torso like a glove as well as wicking away sweat in hot Hong Kong conditions.It comes with two 500ml soft flasks or can be paired with a bladder (sold separately).
Possibly a better option for shorter runs is the Nathan Air Vapor or Vaporess, Nathan’s lightest pack on the market. It comes with a 2 litre bladder plus a roomy 7 litres for your other essentials. This performance-driven vest features super breathable materials that are body-mapped for the utmost comfort, while over-the-shoulder load lifters pull the vest close to your body for a bounce-free ride.
The Forest Hider (AKA that runner with the beard that thinks he is Bear Grylls and wants to do the Barkley Marathon)
Irregardless of where they are - whether forest, desert or mountain - this runner likes to live on the edge, seeking the path less travelled.. Without warning, they will vanish off the side and see what they can find and where they can explore. So what do you get this hardcore trail blazer? Introducing the LifeStraw Personal! This is ideal for backpacking, exploring and general vanishing in a forest for days. The straw style filter lets you turn up to 1,000 litres of dirty fetid pond muck into safe drinking water. If this runner disappears on Christmas Day, you know they will be able to drink water from any stream in Hong Kong. They’ll return… one day… maybe...
The “Oh I can’t go out at night - it’s too dark” runner
“Do not go gentle into that good night but rage, rage against the dying of the light” - unless, of course, you have a super light with a great battery. All trail runners, especially those running ultras, know that your best friend during the night is an awesome head torch, which will keep you moving faster faster and stay safer. Here are three decent options, depending on your budget.
The Lupine Piko is a super high quality light with a some serious retina-popping brightness at a whopping 1,500 lumens, which is over twice a car headlight. It is extremely lightweight for the power and battery life, features quality German construction (with a 2-year warranty, drop-proof to 2 metres and waterproof to 2m underwater) and handy battery gauge, and comes in a variety of colour options. Not cheap starting from $2,690, so see this as a long term investment.
From the land down under is the Ay Up, which seems to have taken over the Hong Kong evening trails over the past year. Its distinctive two front light cannons can be separately adjusted (one on your feet, one lighting the path ahead) so you have light exactly where you need it. It is also relatively lightweight, has a decent battery life, comes with a comfortable head strap and in an array of colours. It’s a great mid-range option for night owl runners at just $1,390.
Finally, one of the most popular lights in Europe, but new to Hong Kong, is the Ferei HL40. It is lightweight, features manually adjustable power options, and comes with a zoom lens for wide and diffused or high intensity beam so you can try and find what was making that creepy sound behind the tree. Packing a powerful 600 lumens, it has the option of a a rechargeable battery pack or AA batteries. At $1,070 and $890 for the two versions, it is our best value head torch and, if I am honest, this is my own personal light of choice.
So there - no more pants and socks this year, as you just lost all your excuses for not buying that special runner in your life a decent Christmas gift. And if you are still unsure, don’t forget you can always buy them a Gone Running gift card and let them decide!
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