There are two reasons that I’m writing this post. One is a selfless act of helping you lot out so that buying Christmas gifts for your fitness friends is a bit easier. The second is so that any of my friends or family reading this know the kind of things I want for Christmas. Seriously, I don’t even wear scarves, let alone three of them.
These are all things I’ve tried and tested heavily and use all the time. I’ve tried to give the cheapest place to buy each one as well. If I think of anything else to add to the list in the run up to Christmas I’ll stick it on here. If you can find any cheaper, let me know and I’ll update it.
Merry Christmas people.
The Kit: TOG24 Beck Jacket
What is it? An impressively light down jacket that’s also ridiculously cosy. At £90, it a way cheaper alternative to some of the more commonplace brands out there. I’ve been wearing it solidly for the past two months and I love it. Probably not going to be enough when it’s start getting really cold, and it’s not waterproof, but it’s designed for layering. Just stick a waterproof layer over the top and you’re sorted. I class it as the outdoor gentlemen’s hoodie.
Who for? One of the major issues I have when people buy me presents is that they generally get me running tops, shorts and socks. People forget that you actually have to get to and from a race when you’re a runner and, on occasion, do things that aren’t running. This is basically the perfect light jacket to stick in your bag during a race and fling on afterwards. That hood is damn warm as well.
The Trainers: Nike Pegasus Turbo
What are they? The Pegasus Turbo are Nike’s 2018 speedster shoe. Using technology developed in the Breaking 2 campaign (you can read a full explanation of all of that here), Nike created a shoe that they suggested had all the technical developments needed to make you run faster.
I’m not a big fan of bold marketing claims, but I would put these trainers down as my favourite ever running shoes. Since I’ve been wearing them I’ve got two PBs, I seem to run faster in every race and I feel like I enjoy running more. Yep, that sounds like nonsense, but I’ve spoken to athletes, running journalists and friends who have all said the same thing. The only issue I had with them was the colours available at launch. Since then Nike have developed a series of different variants and some look beautiful.
Who for? Any runner really. I’ve been using them from 5ks to half marathons and I’m sticking them on for Valencia marathon next week. I would say they’re a bit pricey for a training shoe (I don’t want to waste them unless it’s a race).
The Workout: Farm Fitness Session
What is it? Only the coolest place to workout that I know of. Set in the grounds of a farm over near Stanstead, Farm Fitness is any fitness fan’s dream day out. The exterior area looks like the set of some sort of hardcore Miami muscle beach, with anything from tyres, farm machinery and chains dotted around.
The team are the kind of guys that make you work hard, not because they’re paid to, but because they love pushing people to be fitter. Trust me, I’ve been there. Really friendly lot as well, when they’re not making you carry a 70kg sack.
Who for? People who love a challenge. You don’t have to be super fit as all the workouts can be done at any level. But whatever that level is, they’re going to push you, whilst you’re having a bit of fun in the outdoors. As workouts go, as session at Farm Fitness is pretty damn cheap as well. Maybe take the whole family one Saturday morning. Nan’ll love it.
The Tech: Aftershokz Trekz Air
What are they? A cool futuristic running headset that send the sound through vibrations into your bone rather than through the more conventional ear plug. For about two years I basically just ignored the fact they existed based on the fact I thought the concept sounded like nonsense. After having tested a pair a few months back I’ve been wearing them for every race I’ve done since (that’s a lot).
Plus points include the fact they’re really light, sound great and they’re actually allowed to be worn by a lot of race organisers where normal headphones aren’t The reason for this is that although you’re listening to music, you can still hear everything else going on.
Who for? The primary use for these is for running (and cycling at a push), so any runner really, but especially those that run on roads or in busy areas.
The Socks: Stance
What are they? Well, erm, they’re socks. But really, really nice socks that have taken the whole fitness world by storm over the last couple of years. Basically worn by anyone from runners, to CrossFitters and everything in-between, Stance offer a frankly remarkable selection of designs that make a trip to the store like a visit to an art gallery. Seriously, take a look through the website and see the designs available.
Who for? Anyone who wears socks. Fitness people love them because they’re designed with technology to make them comfortable, supportive and breathable – all that sort of stuff. But really they’re just damn nice socks that anyone would be proud to have, you don’t have to be running marathons every weekend.
The Food: Clif Bar Box
What are they? Just a damn nice fitness snack. I actually buy these as a treat even when I’m not doing any exercise because I like them so much. Unlike most fitness snacks they don’t taste like something that’s trying to cover up not so nice flavours within the ingredients. The peanut butter ones are truly a thing to be savoured.
Who for? They’re probably best designed for people who burn a lot of calories, so cyclists, runners, swimmers and climbers. They’re an energy snack above all, so even though they do have protein in, you’ll need to burn off the calories.
The Accessory: Fitletic Running Belt
What are they? I’ve always hated running with my phone, but I also hate those daft armbands. I ended up buying an iPod Shuffle so I I could leave my phone in my bag. The only problem is that I’ve done a load of races this year where I had to take my phone with me for one reason or another. Seriously, I ran the whole Great North run clutching on to my phone with a sweaty fist, desperate not to drop it.
I picked one of these up shortly after and it’s changed my life. I stick my phone, keys and credit card in the pack (which is big enough to hold a fairly large phone) and don’t even notice it when I’m racing. I got my fastest ever 10k time wearing it. I love it more than any accessory I’ve ever tried. Not often I say stuff like that.
Who for? Well, anyone who hates arm bands but wants to carry their phone on them. Perfect for heading out of the house with the bare minimum or keeping your valuables on you during a race. Especially good if you tend to race alone and don’t have anyone to give your expensive stuff to.
The Secret Santa Option: Stack 52 Fitness Dice
What are they? I bought these on a whim because I thought they’d be fun. As a training aid they’re probably not scientifically sound – you could end up spending the majority of your workouts doing press-ups. But they’ve a great bit of fun if you’re training with other people. The exercises are fairly standard with most of the dice specifying what to do next and the other telling you how many reps of each. There are burpees in there as well. Be warned.
Who for? You can probably gauge which of your friends or family would like these. Definitely a more productive use of Christmas afternoon than a third box of Roses.
The Book: Ross Edgley – The World’s Fittest Book
What is it? I doubt you’ve managed to avoid Ross in the news recently. He’s the guy that’s just swam the whole way around Britain. The man was a fitness legend before he did this, but now he’s another level. If you thought about the kind of man who would do a challenge that it probably wouldn’t be a massive body builder. This book is basically all of his leanings about fitness over the years. It’s damn good.
Who for? I think anyone who either loves fitness or wants to get fit would like this. Sure, it may be one of those books that sits in the cupboard as the memory of a new year’s resolution. But if there’s a slight chance that someone will pick it up and use it to get healthy and fit, I’d take it over a pair of socks.
The Charity: Calmzone
What is it? CALM (The Campaign Against Living Miserably) have been receiving a massive amount of attention recently, and not just because of Movember. The charity, which focuses on male mental health has been the focus of many campaigns and editorial over the last year. And rightly so, it’s an amazing initiative which highlights some startling stats about male mental health and suicide.
As far as Christmas presents go, the world of gifting for charity is becoming far more normal than it was in George Costanza’s day, maybe you could even split your gift in two – half for your loved one and half for world betterment. Just an idea.
Who for? The kind of forward-thinking altruistic good egg that we should all be proud to know.