This Christmas, prove to the runner in your life that you know the latest and greatest trends. Like these AirPods Pro from Apple, about the coolest new tech toy on earth
Wired headphones are the enemy of the runner. The earbuds never stay locked in. And so, I approached the first AirPods with cynicism—after all, the only thing worse than a pair of headphones that pop out of your ears would be the same pair unshackled to their wires.
But the first iteration of AirPods were a revelation. Throughout the (literally) thousands of kilometres I’ve run in my first pair, they never once fell out. They were also surprisingly resilient. I got caught in a few rainstorms, and ran through one very cold Canadian winter with them, and they survived it all. I even washed a single bud, and it somehow survived the spin cycle.
I’ve tested the second iteration of the AirPods as well, and they feature a few subtle upgrades, including the wireless charging case. But AirPods Pro are a different animal altogether—a beast seemingly specifically made for runners.
Noise cancellation that’s safe for runners At times, I found myself having to crank the original AirPods in order to tune out ambient city noise, particularly when listening to podcasts. Apple’s engineers came up with a clever fix: a sealed silicone fitted tip and “adaptive EQ,” which modulates playback based on the ambient noise around you, creating a fairly immersive experience. But if you don’t feel safe running while completely locked into your own little world, the new
“transparency mode” actually pipes in background noise selectively so, you know, you can hear that car about to roll through the stop sign as you cross the street.
Surprisingly long-lasting I was always impressed by the previous iteration’s ability to accompany me for my entire long run without draining the battery completely. The Pro version comes packed with a two-cell battery at 1.98 WH capacity, which is a good jump from the regular AirPod case, but because the AirPods Pro are more power hungry, the battery life rating is about the same. Like the previous model, you can expect about 4.5-5 hours of listening time after a full charge. An added bonus for runners is that the case is easy to stow away, meaning you can pop them back in for a charge if, say, you’re running an ultra.
The new W1 Bluetooth chip also seems to be highly efficient while being extremely powerful, maintaining a constant and flawless connection—a nice improvement from the first iteration.
There’s a button! Touch screens can be the bane of a runner’s existence. One astonishingly simple yet brilliant addition to the AirPods Pro is the little “force sensor” button on each bud. It allows you to control a variety of functions, including toggling between full noise cancellation and the transparency mode. It also controls all the major music playback features.
They just work The earbuds have a tiny sensor that detects when they are in or out of your ear (automatically stopping playback, which is a nice touch), and pairing to an iPhone is dead simple. This is why the original AirPods have become so ubiquitous: they work. AirPods Pro are that next, mature step—adding every key feature a runner could hope for and improving upon one of the truly essential pieces of tech.
26 Marathons: What I Learned About Faith, Identity, Running, and Life from My Marathon Career by Meb Keflezighi – $33.99 One of the most consistent marathoners of our time retired in 2017 after running his 26th marathon — one for every mile of the race. In this book, American Meb Kelfezighi, the first person in history to win Boston, New York City and an Olympic marathon medal, chronicles what he learned throughout the course of his professional marathon career. Included is an inside look into his life, family, identity and faith as well as his tips about running, training and nutrition.
Darn Tough Vertex 1/4 Ultra-Light socks – $24 Darn Tough is a strong candidate to be the longest-lasting and most durable socks on the market. The ¼ Ultra-Light socks are the perfect length — though Darn Tough also has low-cut, and high-cut options — to cover the exposed area of your ankles below your long tights. Best of all, these socks are tough enough for winters and because of its mix of merino wool, nylon and lycra, they’re cool enough to wear in the summer too.
TriggerPoint GRID Ball – $30 Gift your loved one a year of injury-free running with a TriggerPoint GRID Ball, a compact and portable massage tool. Target specific muscle groups with the precision of a ball, plus access harder to reach areas for therapy like your arch if you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis. Typically, a lacrosse ball or tennis ball does the trick, but if you’re looking for something in the middle in terms of stiffness, the GRID Ball has a softer outer layer mixed with a hard plastic core.
Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky – $32.50 For the food lovers out there, Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. is your quick-fix for healthy and simple recipes made by runners, for runners. Olympic medallist and New York City Champion Shalane Flanagan and chef Elyse Kopecky offer a whole new lineup of recipes in the successor to Run Fast. Eat Slow. This cookbook bible for runners is great for recipes for pre-run, post-run, and on-the-go.
Level Terrain FlipBelt – $38 (medium) Essentially doubles, or triples, your carrying capacity. They come in reflective colours for nighttime running, and alternatively, the material is soft enough to hide under your clothing without chafing concerns. Also: because there is no buckle, FlipBelts come in various sizes and are above-the-head.
Under Armour ColdGear Reactor Performance Vest – $160 One of the more underrated, but versatile, pieces of apparel in a runner’s wardrobe is a vest. Vests are warm enough to keep your core warm, but breathable and versatile enough where you can wear a simple long-sleeve underneath. Or, on those really cold days, vests can easily slip overtop or underneath your standard running jacket for extra warmth. The Under Armour ColdReactor Performance Vest is water-repellent, insulated, and offers a snug fit for windier days.
COROS APEX Premium Multisport GPS Watch – $459.99 (42mm) Does the runner in your life always complain about having a GPS watch on the verge of battery death? COROS makes GPS watches with a staggering 100 hours of battery life on a single charge (and proves you know more about running watches than just Garmin). The COROS APEX Premium features a wrist-based heart monitor, bread crumb mode (for navigation), built-in barometer, altimeter, and compass and a fully customizable home screen to choose between your preferred tracking metrics.
Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% – $330 Although you won’t be able to gift an actual personal best, the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% is the next best thing. Worn by world-class runners across the globe, the NEXT% is considered the fastest racing flat on the market. In fact, a recent The New York Times study of the NEXT% found that those who wear them when racing clock times 4-5% faster than those with average shoes. Fortunately, the NEXT% is more accessible – albeit at a steep price – than its predecessor, so you can find it online or at your local running store like BlackToe Running.
Ciele FST Beanie – $55 From the makers of the highly-popular running caps comes the winter version of headgear. Designed and manufactured in Canada, the Ciele FST Beanie offers full coverage for colder days, and wicks away sweat so you avoid the chills. The one-size product is reflective, machine-washable and offers a lifetime
Tuff Mutt Dog Leash – $85 Here’s a gift that will benefit both the person you’re gifting it to, as well as to their number one training partner. For runners with canines, the Tuff Muff dog leash is a hands-free bungee with up to 4-feet in slack to ensure the dog has enough room to run without heels being stepped on. Backed by a lifetime guarantee, this is a gift that will keep on giving for years to come.
Energy Bra High Neck by Lululemon – $64 Built with training in-mind, the Energy Bra High Neck features four-way stretch, high-coverage, sweat-wicking materials and breathability. This particular model also offers high-neck coverage in the front with an open back. Plus, Lululemon also offers express shipping for orders as late as Dec. 22 to arrive by Christmas — perfect for the last-minute gifts if you’re in panic-mode.