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Coaches Blog

2021 Holiday Gift Guide for Endurance Athletes

Updated: Apr 26, 2022

With the winter holidays just around the corner and sales starting earlier and earlier (including Black Friday), it’s time to start shopping for the endurance athletes on your list (or draft your own wish list)!


With all the great technology and toys on the market for endurance athletes, it can be tough to know exactly what is a great investment and what’s kinda gimmicky or just “nice to have.” So, I rounded up some of my top picks. These are things any endurance athlete will benefit from, especially in the off-season when it’s time to build a bigger engine for your upcoming races (so to speak).


Strength Training Tools and Equipment

The off-season is the best time to really invest in your strength training. Why not treat yourself to some new home-gym equipment that will really help you go the distance? Whether you’ve got a swanky “pain-cave” or a corner in your apartment, these work in almost any setup.


Kettlebells: This one might seem a bit obvious, but everyone needs a good kettlebell. When used properly, Kettlebells can help give you a simultaneous cardio and strength boost. They’re very versatile and a fun way to incorporate core work and strength training into your routine and improve your overall balance.


Plus, kettlebells are affordable, portable, and don’t take up a lot of space. They come in a range of weights from 4 lbs to about 175 lbs. However, many people say kettlebells feel heavier than traditional dumbbells because of their center of gravity.


Before shopping for a kettlebell, consider what weight(s) you’ll need. Depending on fitness level and experience with kettlebells, a beginner might start with a 9 lb kettlebell. Feel free to test a few in the store to decide which ones are right for you.


Price: There are many brands on the market, but a kettlebell runs anywhere from $7.99 for a 5 lb kettlebell and go up from there. Prepare to pay between $1 and $3 per pound.


One thing to keep in mind is kettlebells are heavy (by design). Be sure to either order with free shipping or buy local to avoid astronomical shipping costs. This is not an item you’ll want to buy used online with a “buyer pays shipping” agreement. Perhaps check your local Craigslist or Play-It-Again sports first if you’re going that route.


Box jump: If you’ve got a little more room (and you don’t live in an upstairs apartment), add a box jump to your home gym to build explosive strength and speed this off-season. In box jump training, you get to work all your leg muscles and strengthen your core. Plus, you can do a wide range of exercises either with bodyweight or with weights. Box jump exercises can also help improve your endurance, and they’re a fun addition to your HIIT routines.


Price: Depending on the size and what the box jump is made of, they can range from $50 to well over $100. While you definitely want to get something sturdy and durable (you will be jumping on it, after all), this isn’t one of those items where more expensive is necessarily better.


TRX Suspension System: The TRX Suspension System is an incredibly versatile bodyweight resistance system designed to help you build muscles, endurance, and strength. They’re suspended from a ceiling (or doorframe) and force you to balance through each movement, which works your core and activates different muscle groups for an efficient strength training session.


Price: Starting at a sale price of $139.95, the TRX system seems like a significant investment, but it’s one of the most versatile strength and mobility tools you can buy for your home gym. There are good off-brand options on the market that are cheaper, but be sure to read reviews to ensure you’re getting a high-quality, reliable product and shop with caution.


Best Safety Devices

Whether your running, cycling, or swimming, safety is critical. Consider investing in one or more of these items for your own peace of mind and your loved ones, too!


RoadID: Ok, maybe this isn’t technically a device, but sometimes the simplest solution is the best. The home screen on your phone is not always a reliable source of information. Wear a RoadID whenever you’re out on a training ride or run to ensure that if the unthinkable happens, emergency medical services will have the right information right away.


Whether you’d like to add a RoadID badge to your Garmin strap, wear it around your wrist, or on your shoelaces, many EMS units are trained to look for RoadID’s when responding to accidents involving cyclists, runners, and other endurance athletes.


Price: With shoe bands starting as low as $19.99, this is definitely a worthwhile investment that just might save your life or the life of a loved one!

Garmin Varia Radar Tail Light: The Garmin Varia is a rearview radar and taillight combination that pairs with your Garmin Edge (or compatible smartphone) to alert you of vehicles approaching from behind. All cyclists should consider investing in this safety device if any of your regular riding routes take you on streets with traffic.


Even if you’re in an area with many cyclists, the number of accidents and fatalities caused by distracted driving continues to rise. Be a proactive cyclist by staying aware of all your surroundings rather than being forced to react when you hear or see oncoming traffic. Plus, the bright taillight keeps you visible even in broad daylight!


Price: The Varia with the taillight retails for $199.99 on Garmin’s website. If you’d like the radar sensor without the taillight feature, you can purchase it for $99.99. (Be sure you have space to mount the sensor and another tail light on your bike if you choose the sensor-only option.)


LED Light Running Vest: If you like to get up and squeeze in a pre-dawn workout or head out for an after-work run when the sun sets early, you need an LED light running vest to keep you visible from every direction. (Plus, who doesn’t want to look like a one-man glowstick parade!) They even have LED running vests for your doggie running buddies, too!


Even in well-lit urban areas, drivers aren’t always paying attention to runners and walkers. With the flashing LED lights, you’ll be visible for up to ¼ mile and grab drivers’ attention to avoid potential accidents.


Price: the Noxgear Tracer2 is on sale for $49.99 (regular retail is $92.50), and they have a LightHound doggie option for the same price. Amphipod has similar products for about $60, and there are other “off-brand” options on the market.


Best Splurges To Add To Your Wish List

Once you’ve got all the practical stuff taken care of, it’s time to start looking for those splurge items that really make the endurance sports life even better (awesomer?). Here are our top picks that will either make you the hero gift-giver of all time or really make your day.


Normatec Compression Boots: Whether you want to warm up quickly, recover faster, or just release the stress of the day, the Normatec Compression Boots are practically magic. It’s like getting a full leg massage in the comfort of your home, with just a few clicks. You can even customize each session depending on your goal (activation, recovery, etc.).


Add a carry bag, and you’ll be ready to take preparation and recovery on the road to your next race, too. And your race-day “designated stuff person” (formerly known as sherpa) will appreciate the recovery time, too. So, really, it’s a gift to you and your entire support team.


Price: They’re a little on the pricey side, currently starting at $749, but you’ll be glad you spent every penny when the compression starts and all the strain from workouts and life melts out of your legs. Plus, chat with your Team MPI coach to find out about current team discount options.


Power Meter: Power is measured in watts, and it’s a standard unit used to measure effort exerted. A power meter measures power by tracking the amount of torque produced by your pedaling and multiplying that number by your cadence.


Training with power is one of the best ways to measure progress and ensure you’re training to the exact intensity in all conditions (and elevations). It also enables you to enjoy virtual training options (like Zwift or Rouvy). So, while a power meter technically isn’t a required piece of training equipment, it can be a powerful investment for your overall training progress and racing strategy.


Price: We really like the Quarq power meter from Sram, but there are many options on the market. Since there are a lot of features and options, the price can range anywhere from $500 to several thousand dollars.


Running Power Meter: Just like with cycling, running power meters measure your power output with each run stride to show you how much work you’re doing and how fast you’re going. So, while heart rate, pace, and rate of perceived exertion are excellent metrics, a run power meter dials that in even further.

These clever little devices are fairly new but are enjoying a meteoric rise in popularity, with Stryd Pod and Garmin leading the way as the early front-runners in this technology (with Polar and other brands not far behind).


A running power meter is an especially useful device if you live in a hilly environment where you constantly have to figure out how to “normalize” your runs to achieve the right intensity levels.


Price: With the technology still relatively new to the running world, prices seem to vary widely from about $70 to $200 for running foot pods. What WON’T vary widely is your run efforts when you train with running power!


Wahoo Kickr Bike: Ok… if you’ve been REALLY good this year, consider asking Santa (or the powers that be) for one of these fancy e-bikes. The Kickr Bike is totally customizable, so you can dial in the fit to closely match your road, gravel, or tri bike. It offers integrated grade changes, simulated shifting, adn customizable gearing to create the most realistic indoor training experience on the market. Zwift racing will never be the same with this top-of-the-line training bike!


Price: Coming in at $3,499.99, the Wahoo Kickr Bike is no small investment, but when you start adding up the cost of all those parts you’re replacing on your bikes due to sweat corrosion from constant indoor training in the winter, the price really starts to make more sense.


Gravel Bike: Why not go all in this year and ask for a new gravel bike! The Obed Boundary is our top choice.


Gravel bikes are great investments because they’re so versatile. Whether you’re a triathlete, cyclist, runner, or gravel grinder, you’ll love getting off the roads, exploring new areas, and improving your bike handling skills year-round.


Price: Obed has a nice year-end sale, with prices for their Boundary GRX bikes starting at just $2,740! Plus, ask your Team MPI coach about potential team discount options.


New Training and Racing Kits: Last but certainly not least, give your wardrobe a bit of a boost with a new kit. Whether it’s some new running clothes, a new gravel kit, or a speed suit for the next triathlon season, every athlete can always use a quality pair of bib shorts, tri shorts, or running shorts.


Head over to the Team MPI store to stock up on some sweet gear--everything from arm warmers to winter cycling jackets are made-to-order!

 

Gregg Edelstein is a certified USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach, an IRONMAN University Certified Coach and a USA Cycling Level 3 Coach based in the greater Boston area. Gregg offers his athletes insight on the principles of exercise, nutrition, sports psychology, and injury prevention, working to make them well-rounded and engaged athletes that share his passion for sport. Gregg can be reached at Greg@TeamMPI.com


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