Best Gifts for Runners 2014

One of my most popular posts on this page is my Ultimate Runners Gift Guide from last November, but now the best gifts for runners need to be updated for a 2014 edition.*

Best Gifts for Runners 2014

I always like to start these posts with a warning: If your runner is very, very particular about what they wear on a run, DON’T THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX.  They have their favorite items and brands for good reason, so go ahead and find out exactly what those things are and replace things for them, like their favorite type of running sock.  Shoes are very personal, especially for distance runners, so I recommend buying a gift card to their running shoe store.  (Trust me, they’ll love it!)

Stocking Stuffers for Runners

Earbud organizers, because the tangling, OH THE TANGLING, $2.99
Best Gifts for RunnersPaceTat, for runners trying to Boston Qualify, $2.99
Best Gifts for RunnersHydraPak Soft Flask, because runners need to focus on hydration even more than regular folks, (these collapse small enough to keep in a purse) $19.99
Best Gifts for RunnersSuddora Zippered Wrist Sweatbands are a great way to hold a key and ID on a long run without adding bulk, $8.99
Best Gifts for Runners

FlipBelt, they can hold a surprising amount discreetly (but they don’t come with those abs, unfortunately,) $26.99
Best Gifts for RunnersReflector Running Set, keeping runners safe in the shorter daylight hours of winter, $25-38Best Gifts for Runners
BodyGlide, because chafing is a runner’s worst enemy, $9.99
Best Gifts for Runners

Gifts for Women Runners

Pearl Izumi Insulatour Jacket – Full Zip (For Women) by Pearl Izumi for cold winter runs, $111.95

Best Gifts for Runners

Pearl Izumi at ShopStyle

TrailHeads Ponytail Headband, warmth and style in one, $18.00
Best Gifts for RunnersShock Absorber Running Bra for full-figured runners, $80Best Gifts for Runners


Nike Tech Dri Fit tights are an awesome addition to a runner’s wardrobe, $75
Best Gifts for Runners


Zensah Reflect Running gloves for cold weather runners, $34.99
Best Gifts for Runners


Nike Running Sunglasses.  I never ever run without glasses, even in winter. $176
Best Gifts for Runners

Gifts for Men Runners

Nike Aeroloft running jacket.  I know this is $$$ but I love the down chest piece. $250
Best Gifts for Runners


Nike Thermal running tights, because thermal is a must for outdoor runners in cold locations, $75
Best Gifts for Runners


Under Armor ColdGear hat, wicks moisture and keeps ears covered, $26.99
Best Gifts for RunnersWraparound Running Glasses.  In glasses, look for light weight, non-chafing, and good wraparound coverage. $22.99
Best Gifts for RunnersMizuno Run Gloves for winter joggers, $18.80
Best Gifts for Runners

Tech Runners Gifts

Garmin GPS Watch.  When I asked my Facebook Running Group what they would ask for for Christmas, the two most popular answers were race fees and a Garmin GPS watch.  If I were getting a new one, I would ask for the 220, $299
Best Gifts for Runners

TomTom GPS Watch.  If someone were to hand me this instead, I wouldn’t exactly be disappointed, $133.99
Best Gifts for Runners

Bosavi Rechargeable Headlamp
, a must for running in the dark, $69.95

Bosavi Rechargeable Headlamp

JayBird BlueBuds Bluetooth Headphones, one of the few bluetooth style headphones that can really work for runners, $132.99
Best Gifts for Runners

Books for Runners

Spartan Up! by Spartan Race tour de force himself Joe de Sena.  This is a recent release, so if your runner loves obstacle-style or mud run type events, this is a great gift (and has great reviews,) $18.26
Best Gifts for Runners

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, a national bestseller detailing the Tarahumara Indians known for running great distances barefoot.  Warning: This book is behind the “barefoot running” craze, so if you don’t want your loved one to wear shoes with toes, pick a new book, $10.63

Best Gifts for Runners


Any of the Best Gifts for Runners I missed that are a must have for you? Be sure to subscribe to the blog, like the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, and use the social media buttons below this post to share this post with anyone who might be looking for the best gifts for runners this year!

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*This is not a sponsored post, but many of the links are provided through affiliates, meaning if you choose to purchase the item I make a small commission.*

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Causes of Obesity: 12 Sources of America’s Epidemic

I read this article about the causes of obesity, “12 Graphs that Show Why People Get Fat,” and had to share the results and add my input on how you can combat these issues.  Knowledge is power, and if you are struggling with your weight, you might better understand how your personal challenge is reflected in our national challenge.  I encourage you to read the full article and associated graphs with links to the studies from which the findings were derived.

Causes of Obesity

1: People are Eating More Junk Food Than Ever

Causes of Obesity - Junk Food We are eating more calories in general, but that is made exponentially worse by the source of the calories.  Processed, sugar and additive filled, chemically preserved foods are harder for our bodies to deal with properly.

Personal Fix: Eat more home cooked, clean meals.  Less fast food, fewer pre-packaged meals.

2: Increasing Sugar Consumption Causes of Obesity - SugarSugar is ubiquitous in American cuisine.  Did you know that other countries don’t have sugar as a standard ingredient in their bread but we do?  The recipe for white bread is shockingly similar to regular cake, but we slice it and put meat on it and call it bread. Added sugar = added calories = added pounds.

Personal Fix: Pay attention to ingredient labels, avoid extra sugar

3: The Holiday Bulge that Doesn’t Budge Causes of Obesity - Holiday WeightWe love to overeat during the holidays.  It’s fun! It’s delicious! There are so many opportunities!  The holiday pounds often stick around from year to year, and after a decade you might be looking at 10-15 extra just from winter parties alone.

Personal Fix: If you have a lot of parties on the schedule, try not to indulge at every single one, and work in some extra gym time. 

4: Low-fat Misinformation Causes of Obesity - Low Fat The “low fat” craze of the late 70’s has only worked to spread incorrect information about how our bodies work.  Not all fat is equal, and living a “low fat” lifestyle might mean eating too many processed chemicals and not enough healthy fats like Omega-3s.

Personal Fix: Learn where to keep healthy fats in your diet, and if you’re trying to lose weight don’t focus on “low fat” choices.

5: Food is Cheap! Causes of Obesity - Food is Cheap Let me rephrase that, BAD food is cheap.  I can get ten times the calories per dollar in a fast food cheeseburger than in a dollar’s worth of strawberries.  That is very hard to resist especially for low-income families.

Personal Fix: Try stocking up on healthier options when they are in season or on sale.

6: Drinking Our Calories Causes of Obesity - Sugary Drinks As a country we are drinking more soda and sugary drinks than ever before.  It’s addictive and CHEAP! (See #5.)  A can of sugar cola per day can lead to an extra 10-15 pounds per year. 

Personal Fix: Keep up your water intake to quench your thirst, and limit sugary drinks as much as possible. 

7: So Many Tempting Options

Causes of Obesity - Variety This goes well with the holiday weight.  Picture that seasonal spread with twelve kinds of desserts.  We want to try them all!  It’s normal, but when we are presented with those choices regularly (think vending machines,) we tend to overeat.

Personal Fix: Find healthy options you enjoy and keep them on hand rather than having cookies and junk in the pantry. 

8: Sedentary Jobs Causes of Obesity - Sedentary We aren’t hunters and gatherers anymore, and people like me end up sitting a lot during work hours.  If you’ve ever heard, “Well my great granddad never exercised a day in his life and he was skinny as a rail and lived to be 175,” you can ask what he did for a living. Chances are, it was something physical.  Burn less, eat more, gain weight.

Personal Fix: Track movement with something like a FitBit so you have an actual understanding of how much you can/should eat and how much you should exercise to stay healthy. Fitbit makes activity tracking easy and automatic.

9: More Vegetable OilsCauses of Obesity - Oils Hand in hand with the low fat craze came vegetable oils and non-food like margarine. In processed foods these oils are often hidden and boost calories unnecessarily.

Personal Fix: More meals at home that you cook yourself so you know what’s inside. 

10: Group Overeating  Causes of Obesity - Group Eating It’s hard not to grab a few hundred extra calories from shared appetizers.  Dining out with a group can increase your calorie intake per meal by 72%!

Personal Fix: Be the example and order a healthy option.  If the calories aren’t visible on the menu, Google it!

11: Not Enough Sleep

Causes of Obesity - Sleep Deprivation I’ve harped on this point before, and it’s as true as ever.  Not enough sleep leads to poor food choices and deprives our bodies of the chance to process food properly and reset.

Personal Fix: Set a bedtime, and keep it. 

12: Eating More Calories  Causes of Obesity - Calorie Intake The most basic rule of weight gain/loss is “calories in vs. calories out.”  If you bring in more than you burn off, you will gain weight.  As a country, we are eating substantially more calories per day AND burning less per day.  It’s simple math.

Personal Fix: Calculate your BMR, and keep that basic number of how many calories you need per day in mind when deciding what to eat.

Again, I encourage you to read the full article with the fascinating graphs and charts by clicking HERE. 

Be sure to subscribe to the blog, like the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, and use the social media buttons below this post to share this post with your friends who want to know the causes of obesity.

*The links in this post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link



adidas has launched an innovative new app for Android and iPhone smartphone devices, called the#miZXFLUX app. The app allows you to easily apply your personal photographic image to one of adidas Originals most covetable silhouettes, the ZX FLUX. With the app, you can take a photograph, edit and rotate the photo, and apply it to your very own custom ZX FLUX shoes. You can make a statement that’s all your own.

Get the #miZXFLUX app today and create your custom shoes.

For your Christmas shopping this year, consider Zulily, Simply Fit & Clean affiliate.  Next week they are having a major VITAMIX sale! Perfect for those looking for a deal on what is possibly the world’s best smoothie maker.


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Reebok Outlet Sale Wish List

This post contains sponsored links from Reebok, Simply Fit & Clean Affiliate

Reebok Outlet Wish List

Reebok is having a massive outlet sale online this week, so over lunch breaks I’ve been pining about my favorite things on the site.  Click here for up to 50% at + Free Shipping & Free Returns

Here are some of my favorite things.

Women’s Athletic Shoes

Reebok Cross Fit Sprint

Reebok Cross Fit Sprint

I think I’ve posted about these shoes ten times already.  I can’t help if I like pretty things.

Men’s Lifting Shoes

Reebok Cross Fit Lite Lo

Reebok Cross Fit Lite Lo

Some dudes like to lift barefoot.  That scares me.  If you like a low-profile shoe for weight lifting, this is a great option for stability.

Kids Socks

Kids Reebok Zig Back Tab Socks

Kids Reebok Zig Back Tab Socks

Perfect for long days at the park or family hikes.

Women’s Top

Reebok Studio Graphic Tee

Reebok Studio Graphic Tee

I am a sucker for workout clothes that add extra motivation (like this or this.)

Men’s Sunglasses

RBK Classic 3.0 Sunglasses

RBK Classic 3.0 Sunglasses

I know a few people who could pull these off nicely.

Seen any great fitness fashion deals lately?

Be sure to subscribe to the blog, like the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, and use the social media buttons below this post to share this post with your friends who want to Save up to 50% at + Free Shipping & Free Returns

Fitbit Zip

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Running With the Bulls!

So I’ve been MIA from the blog for a bit, but my excuse was SPAIN, where I spent a big chunk of July and ran with the bulls in Pamplona!  Easily the craziest thing I have ever done.  Here are some photos of that day as well as footage of our actual run and our post-adrenaline explanation of how it went down.

Running with the Bulls in Pamplona | Simply Fit & Clean

We did it!

We did it!

In the paper the next day (thankfully not because we got hurt)

In the paper the next day (thankfully not because we got hurt)


OUR RECAP (We are SO TIRED and worn here)


best protein powderWould you ever run with the bulls?  Be sure to subscribe to the blog, like the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, and use the social media buttons below this post to share this post with your friends. 

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Which is the Best Protein Powder for Me?

Which is the Best Protein Powder for Me?

While I generally believe the best way to get proper nutrition is with a clean, well balanced diet, protein powder certainly has a value to offer, especially because it’s so convenient and quick to digest.  While traveling, for example, packing a small container of protein powder makes more sense than filling a suitcase with cartons of eggs and chicken breasts.  For answers to some commonly asked questions about protein, check out this article from  So which is the best protein powder?  Well, that depends. 

Which is the Best Protein Powder for Me? | Simply Fit & Clean

Best Protein Powder

The best protein powder for you depends on what you are trying to accomplish and your dietary restrictions.  LA Fitness posted a great blog answer this topic in detail.  Click here to read it in full.  The abbreviated recommendations are:

For self-proclaimed non-cookers: Egg protein/Albumin 

For vegetarians: Casein or soy

For regular exercisers/muscle building: Whey

For weight loss: Hemp

For allergy sufferers: Brown rice or pea

So the next time you’re in the store or online searching for the best protein powder, first ask what your goals and/or restrictions are and pick from there.

But isn’t protein powder gross? Yes, sometimes it is.  Thankfully we live in the Information Age and can easily avoid the worst of the flavors based on online reviews and recommendations.  Here are some well-liked flavors:

Chocolate powder:

best protein powder

BSN Syntha-6 Isolate

Vanilla powder:

best protein powder

Dymatize Elite Fusion 7

Strawberry powder:

Best protein powder

Muscletech Phase 8 Strawberry

Peanut Butter Powder: 

best protein powder

Cellucor COR-Performance

Whichever flavor you pick, don’t forget to pick up a blender cup or personal blender for perfect consistency.  Even powders with great flavor are hard to stomach if they aren’t well mixed. 

best protein powder Do you have a recommendation for the best protein powder? A tried and true favorite? Mention it in the comments.  Be sure to subscribe to the blog, like the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, and use the social media buttons below this post to share this beach workout with your friends.

**The links in this post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

adidas Summer Sale: Up to 50% Off Over 1,000 Items
If you’ve put off shopping for your summer sports wear until now, you have just hit the jackpot. The adidas Summer Sale is on and you can get up to 50% off of over 1,000 items! Running shoes, basketball gear, soccer cleats, swimwear—for men, women and kids—everything an athletic family needs to participate in a summer of activity. This sale lasts as long as the supplies, so don’t wait or before you know it, just like summer, the sale will be over.

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Beach Workout by Neila Ray

I came across this great set of workouts by Neila Rey, and it’s too perfect for the beginning of summer.  Beach Workout | Simply Fit & Clean

I plan on spending a lot of time at the beach this summer, so I need to keep this in my glove box.  Neila Ray is a great resource for printable, portable, free workouts all centered on different themes like “Matrix” and “Minecraft.”  Click HERE for her workout card collection.

Eat This Much Do you have a favorite summer workout? Be sure to subscribe to the blog, like the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, and use the social media buttons below this post to share this beach workout with your friends.

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Eat This Much

Eat This Much

I came across a cool service today I wanted to share with my readers: Eat This Much. 

Automatic meal planner, Eat This Much, makes healthy choices easy! | Simply Fit & Clean

Eat this much
From their site:

Eat This Much automatically creates meal plans with your personalized nutrition targets, food preferences, and budget, and then sends them to you every week with a grocery list.

I went to and put in 1400 calories over 4 meals, and this is what my results look like: Eat This Much It’s a list of meals with calorie breakdowns and the macronutrients calculated for the day.  Click on the meal and it takes you to a recipe page.  Each recipe can be personalized, especially useful if you’re making the meal for more/less people.  The personalization options include:  

      •  Set units to metric
      • Specific diets: Atkins, Paleo, Vegetarian, Vegan, Mediterranean, Zone, Custom, and Recommended
      • Macronutrient target (carbs, fats, and proteins)
      • Micronutrient target (sodium, cholesterol, fiber)
      • Filters to eliminate unwanted foods (like “no red meat” or “no eggplant.”)
      • Meals per day
      • Meal complexity
      • Meal prep time
      • Meal cost

All of the above is FREE, but there is a subscription plan for $7 a month that will send full meal plans to your inbox every week including shopping lists.  The subscription also allows you to customize meals for a given day, like adding more calories for exercise days, and plan for leftovers.

Eat This Much Have you ever tried Eat This Much? It seems like a great option if planning meals is hindering your ability to eat healthy. Be sure to subscribe to the blog, like the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, and use the social media buttons below this post to share Eat This Much with your friends.
*This is not a sponsored post*

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Healthy Habits to Implement Today

Yes, I love infographics.  Today’s graphic on healthy habits comes from Mashable:

Healthy Habits to Implement Today

Busy Mom Workout

Do you have any tips for healthy habits in your life? Be sure to subscribe to the blog, like the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, and use the social media buttons below this post to share these healthy habits with your friends.

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Can a Busy Mom Workout? Fitting It In

Can a Busy Mom Workout?

I’ve been lagging a bit behind on posting this week for two reasons. First, I recently started a great new job at Camino Information Services, an IT Solutions company here in Houston, so I’m figuring out a new equilibrium.  Second, I have been spending my evenings reading the Divergent series.  I can’t help it.  I’m a bandwagonner.  So this week I wanted to talk about how hard it is to get in a Mom Workout, whether you have one kid or five kids, a full time job outside of the house or are home with the kids full time.  Here are a few tips I have used personally or my friends have used to get some mom workout time.
Can a Busy Mom Workout? 5 Tips for Fitting it In | Simply Fit & Clean

Of course this doesn’t just apply to mothers but also fathers and anyone who has to worry about caring for children as part of their schedule. A blogger’s gotta do her SEO.

1) Gym Membership with Child Care – This is my personal favorite busy mom workout option because it comes with a much needed break.  The drawback is the price per month as well as travel to and from the gym.

2) Workout Before the Kids Wake - After they go to bed is also an option, but it’s better to workout at least a few hours before bed time so you are able to fall asleep easily.  A lot of my friends do workout DVDs like P90x or run on a home treadmill before the little ones get out of bed.  Some even wake pre-5am if their kids are early risers.  Now that’s dedication.

3) Depend on Your Significant Other – When I was training for the half marathon I was fortunate to have a very supportive husband who would take the kids for 2 or 3 hours on a Sunday morning while I ran.  If you are lucky like me and have someone supportive in your life, hand the kids over and get in that mom workout.

4) Involve the Kids - There are lots of ways to involve your children in exercising with a side bonus of teaching them life-long healthy habits.  Some options are running with a jogging stroller, dedicating a set amount of time to jumping on the trampoline with them (set a timer so you don’t quit early because that is a tough workout,) family bike rides, and games that involve lots of running like tag.

5) Wearable Tech – If setting aside a block of time dedicated to a busy mom workout isn’t feasible, try a fitness band like a Fitbit and set a good goal that is ambitious but not out of reach. Busy Mom Workout

Do you have any tips for getting in your busy mom workout? Be sure to subscribe to the blog, like the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, and use the social media buttons below this post to share these 5 tips to fit in a busy mom workout with your friends.

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7 Tips for Breaking Through a Weight Loss Plateau

Most people who have had to lose weight for whatever reason have experienced the dreaded weight loss plateau.  Things are moving along steadily, a few pounds down a month, habits are being formed, and then bam.  A wall.  The scale stops moving in the direction you need it to move for no apparent reason.  Here are a few tips to help get through the weight loss plateau.

7 Tips for Breaking Through a Weight Loss Plateau

1) Don’t weigh yourself too often - Maybe that’s cheating since it won’t actually help you lose any weight, but it is an important step to make sure your monitoring has consistency.  If you have a scale in your bathroom and step on it every time you walk in the room, put it away.  Knowing generally how much you weigh is a good thing, but knowing how much you way at every second is not healthy and invites eating disorders and body dysmorphia.  Weigh yourself ONCE per week, at the same time of day. Weighing constantly might disguise an overall trend by the constant (and normal) fluctuations it reveals.

2) Add strength training - A very, very common mistake in the weight loss game is to focus entirely on cardio.  If weight loss means burning more calories than you take in, then it makes sense that more cardio means more weight loss because it burns the most calories, right?  Not quite.  More important to long term weight loss is raising your Basal Metabolic Rate, also known as “how many calories you burn when doing nothing at all.”  Muscles use a lot of calories when resting, so building muscle along with a solid cardio plan helps your efforts continue long after you step off the elliptical. 

3) Switch up your routine – Do you have a great, healthy breakfast you love so much you eat it every day?  Do you always go to the gym at the same time and do the same workout?  These aren’t bad habits per se, but if you’ve hit a weight loss plateau it is worth exploring the concept of changing things up a bit.  Try different healthy foods, go to the gym at a different time of day, and hop on a different machine while you’re there.  Sometimes your body just needs to shake things up.

4) Try a cleanse – I am not a fan of long term juicing, but there is definite value to trying something that is both different and difficult for a few days.  Just last week I did a two day “juice fast” because I was eating a ton of junk food and needed to reset things a bit.  If juice isn’t your thing, try smoothies, a “fruits and veggies only” cleanse, or going meat-free.  For me it just helps me get my mind cleared out and focused on my long terms goals again.

5) Move more – Outside of dedicated exercise time, try to work movement more into your daily schedule.  If you work in an office setting, rather than standing in the break room with a cup of coffee, spend your break walking around the halls.  If you spend your days caring for children, make an effort to get more involved in their physical activities, like with a game of tag or a dance party.  Moving more often will help keep your metabolism up and burning for longer periods during the day.

6) SLEEP  – Lack of sleep is guilty of a multitude of crimes, including causing the weight loss plateau.  Regular, consistent, undisturbed sleep keeps the body regulated and functioning properly.  (Sorry everyone with small children.)

7) Drink more water – Another point I harp on consistenly here at Simply Fit & Clean is the importance of drinking enough water.  Water helps keep all the body parts working properly.  It helps fight cravings.  Being properly hydrated helps ward off illnesses that can hamper your efforts.  Check out THIS infographic if you need more convincing on the amazingness of water. Do you have any tips for breaking the weight loss plateau? Be sure to subscribe to the blog, like the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, and use the social media buttons below this post to share these 7 tips for breaking through a weight loss plateau with your friends.

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