Sweatpants and sweatshirts were once popular cold weather running attire. Remember Rocky Balboa trudging down the streets of Philadelphia in those generic gray sweats? But with the advent of running clothes made from technical fabrics, sweats are really considered "old school" among runners. Running clothes made from technical fabrics, such as DriFit, are much more comfortable because they wick away sweat and keep you dry. If you wear sweats for a cold outdoors run, you're going to get wet, stay wet, and then get chilled. Sweats are great for lounging around the house after a run, but if you want your runner to be comfortable and look sharp for those outdoor runs, stick to running tights, pants, and shirts made from technical fabrics.
2. Cotton T-shirts
Go to any athletic clothing store and you'll find lots of cotton T-shirts with cool logos or graphics on them. But, no matter how cute the T-shirt, most runners don't want to run in cotton. Like sweats (see above), cotton T-shirts hold sweat, which will make you cold during winter running. Running in cotton T-shirts in hot weather can lead to problems such as nipple chafing. In addition, most runners already have a stack of cotton T-shirts from various races they've run, so they most likely don't need more.
3. Hand-held stopwatch
Runners don't want to hold onto a watch during their runs and they certainly don't want to wear one hanging from a strap around their neck. So, unless your favorite runner is a track coach, they don't want a hand-held stopwatch. (And, even if they do coach runners, chances are they already have a hand-held stopwatch.) A simple running wristwatch (like the Timex Ironman) would be much more appreciated.
4. Running shoes
All runners need specific running shoes, based on their foot type and running form. If a runner has never been fitted for running shoes, it's best for him to go to a specialty running store to find the right shoes. Unless you happen to know the brand, model, and size (since runners often wear running shoes that are bigger than their street shoes) of their favorite running shoes, don't risk buying a runner shoes that they can't use.
5. Memorabilia from a race they haven't run
You may think your favorite runner will love a hat from the Boston Marathon or a New York City Marathon shirt, even if they haven't run those races. But, in reality, many runners consider it bad luck or bad race etiquette to wear running clothes from a race that they've never run. If your runner has run a big race, then he or she will definitely love clothes or gear from that race. But don't make him have to admit to someone, "Well, um, actually, no, I didn't run that race."
So what should you get your favorite runners? Check out these running gift lists for ideas: