Eckerson: Holiday gifts for the runners in your life – Sports –


Its time to think about holiday gifts for the runner in your life who likely devotes a fair amount of his or her budget to what can be a very expensive sport.

To start, our climate requires a range of running clothes for running in hot summers and cold winters. Add to that, the average cost of running shoes ranges from $100 to $120 and most runners buy at least two pairs a year. A gift certificate to a running specialty store like Runner’s Alley or a more general sporting goods store or online retailer is a reliable and appreciated gift for all runners.

Another pricey item for runners is the cost of races, which range from a minimum $20 for 5Ks to an average of $50 for half marathons to much higher; the 2017 New York City Marathon entry fee was $295 for a non-New York Road Runners member. Plus, the cost of travel to any races requiring at least an overnight stay will add up quickly. Gifts that cover race entries and travel would be greatly appreciated by any and all budget-conscious runners.

If you are looking for a gift with a local connection then consider a wooden roller made by Kittery, Maine, ultra runner and woodworker Chris Straub. Rolling muscles using direct pressure is a type of self-massage used frequently by runners and other athletes looking to relieve tight and sore areas and to help with recovery. The more typical foam rollers do not generally allow for a deeper level of massage and tend to wear out (I know; I’ve been through several).

Straub said the idea to create a muscle roller from wood came to him when he was making a French rolling pin and wondered how it would feel if he rolled it on his leg. “It felt great! That started the exploration of what can I make in woodworking to compliment running or fitness,” said Straub.

The roller is shaped with two spheres connected with a thinner center, approximately sized to cradle a calf muscle. “It can be used in many ways, while laying or sitting on the floor or standing to massage the bottom of your feet,” said Straub who added that the rounded ends can pinpoint specific knots. Straub also makes custom wooden pieces, cutting boards and other home décor items. “You wouldn’t want a foam roller sitting in your living room but this is an attractive, nicely made piece,” said Straub. See

Another gift to consider with a local connection is a book from a local race director and runner who writes under the pseudonym K.D. Mason. Doug Zechel of Rye, the well-known longtime race director of the Saunders at Rye Harbor 10K, is the author of the Jack Beale Mystery Series, whose protagonist unravels mysteries and murders set in the Seacoast area. Jack Beale is also a runner and along with suspense, romance, sailing, and scenes and references familiar to anyone from the local area, there’s plenty of running. The series has seven books including “Killer Run” and the latest, “Black Schooner.”

A book for runners and anyone looking for easy, delicious and healthy recipes is “Run Fast, Eat Slow: Nourishing Recipes For Athletes” by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky. All of Flanagan’s many fans, myself included, cheered as she won the Nov. 5 New York City Marathon, the first win by an American woman in 40 years. This cookbook was co-written by Flanagan’s former University of North Carolina teammate Kopecky who is now a whole-foods chef. While few will match Flanagan’s running success and speed, these recipes will have us all eating like a world-class marathoner.

The book is easy to navigate and full of beautiful photos and recipes that are simple to follow with easy to find ingredients. Foods that help fuel endurance, recovery, healing and basic good health are at the heart of the recipes. Best of all, the recipes emphasize nutrition and whole foods without dire restrictions like many of today’s popular eating plans. And, as my family would attest, they are also delicious. I’m certain I’ll be turning to this cookbook throughout the year and, perhaps, will catch a little of that Flanagan spark.

Finally, for a book that combines running, travel and even more food, “Run the World: My 3,500-Mile Journey Through Running Cultures Around the Globe” by elite runner Becky Wade should be on your list. Wade ran at Rice University and after graduation as a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship recipient, embarked on a year-long journey to live with and learn from running communities around the world.

Wade takes the reader along on her adventures in England, Sweden, Ethiopia, Japan, New Zealand and other countries, learning along the way the training methods, foods and diverse cultures of other elite runners. Spoiler alert – during her odyssey, Wade finds that there’s more than one way to become a successful runner. The book is entertaining and memorable, and contains recipes from around the world including one for an Irish brown bread that I made this week and I’ll be having for lunch shortly.

Running Notes

On Dec. 17 is the Jingle Bell Run 5K in Concord.

Nancy Eckerson writes about running for Seacoast Sunday, Foster’s Daily Democrat and the Portsmouth Herald. You can reach her at

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