It's never easy buying Christmas presents. But sometimes it's even harder receiving them. No-one wants to seem ungrateful, so it isn't easy looking appreciative when you know full well that the gift just handed to you is destined for years of neglect in the loft. You smile and say the right things, but inside you wonder 'Why do they bother?'
Being a runner, I find it makes the present-buying-process a little more straightforward for others. 'He's a runner, so he'll like this.' seems to be the thinking. Books, socks, kit, watches, laces, as long as it's related to running, I've had it. One year, I was even given a headband and wristbands as my 'Secret Santa' at work, which I couldn't help but think was based on the 118 adverts.
There are a couple of things I would like to tell the kind souls who do buy me Christmas gifts, if only I had the temerity and courage to be so blunt. Firstly, 'There's more to me that just running you know? This isn't all I do. I have other interests and am open to trying new things. I don't sleep with my Garmin. I have orange juice in the morning, not an isotonic drink.'
Secondly, 'I'm easy-going, not a fussy guy at all. BUT, if you are going to buy me a running-related present, then I am incredibly, impossibly anal. This is the brand of shoes I run in. These and only these. I ran a brilliant 10k PB wearing these eight years ago and I'm not changing for anything. These are the socks I wear too...I know they are a different brand, but these are the ones that I KNOW prevent blistering the best. These are the running tops I prefer and these are the only colours I run in. I can write you a list of this stuff if you like?'
Christmas was the usual mixed bag this year. The best gift was the head torch I specifically requested. Thanks Mrs Broadbent! This was the star signing and will go straight into the first team this winter alongside my favourite shorts, shoes, tops and gloves. The rest of the running gifts are now mere squad players, only likely to get an outing in a crisis.
Is it just me? Probably not. I think most runners are this particular. Cyclists aren't though. I bought a bike-mad mate a cheap pair of gloves I saw. He seemed really, really pleased with them.