12 Ways Runners Can Celebrate Birthdays


Birthdays are a cause for celebration! As a runner, what better way to celebrate than to incorporate the activity you love?

Running is a way of life, and many of us incorporate it into our everyday schedules without even thinking about it.

But when it comes to your (or someone else’s) special day, why not do something unique and exciting that you wouldn’t do on just any other day?

Here are 12 ways runners can celebrate birthdays in proper running style! Is your birthday coming up? Do you know a runner whose birthday is around the corner?

You may not have considered these ideas. They’re great for your own birthday and even better as a surprise for a runner in your life!

1. Go for a Run and Finish at a Good Restaurant or Bar

If you find that starting your morning with a run is the best way to begin the day, then what better way to start off a birthday?

Instead of doing your regular run in a loop and heading back home, finish up at your favorite restaurant for a celebratory breakfast. Of course, if you’d prefer a dinner out, then schedule your run for later in the day.

If you’d prefer something quiet and romantic, you can do your run-and-restaurant with your partner. If your birthday is usually celebrated by a larger group, get everyone involved!

Remember, if you’re getting others involved who aren’t used to running, it’s not the day to choose a 20-mile route! A short run and a restaurant or bar close to home is a better choice.

If you’re up for a longer run but your buddies aren’t, you can always do a few more laps of the route than they do.

Nobody is going to feel great waiting for their birthday meal all hot and sweaty, though. Either run at a leisurely pace so you don’t sweat much, or take a change of clothes with you to the restaurant.

If you want a proper challenge (and your friends/partner is up for it), set a rule that you’re only allowed to eat the amount of calories you burned on the run! Make sure your smartwatch is accurate and everyone has one if you want to include a fun challenge like this.

Then, have a birthday meal and a piece of cake guilt-free!

2. Have a Running-Themed Party

Themed parties never go out of style. If you have some runner friends, a running-themed party could be a fun way to spend time together on your birthday.

This could also be a fun surprise party for a runner you love!


A running-specific cake is always a winner. If you know a master cake baker or can spend some extra money on one, why not get a cake in the shape of your favorite running shoe, or imprinted with a photo of you crossing the finish line at your PB?

You can get creative with other eats. If you’re less worried about healthy snacks, you can find gummy shirts and shoes, or bake cookies in the shape of runners.

For health-conscious party-goers, have snacks like protein balls, fruit skewers, and banana-and-PB smoothies for a better choice.

If you want a bit of a laugh, set up a water table complete with cups of water and Gatorade, orange slices, and bananas!

If you want to spare no detail in going over-the-top with the running theme, remember that GU makes a Birthday Cake flavored gel.


This is another area in which creativity knows no bounds. You can decorate the area with race bibs, race medals, race t-shirts, or posters. If you’re planning this a bit in advance, why not see if you can get some gear (banners, etc) from races you’ve done?

Ask your running buddies to come in their running gear, if weather permits.


For a proper running-themed entrance, have the theme song from Chariots of Fire playing as you or your runner arrive!

You could put together a running-themed playlist to play in the background. Or, you could play running documentaries on a big screen.

3. Go for a Run and Finish at a Spa or Nail Salon

This may be more geared at the ladies, but men, a pedicure can make your feet feel great, too! Just like taking a run to a restaurant, you could finish your exercise at a spa or nail salon.

This can also be done as a couple, or with a few friends. You can get a massage (which could be nice after a hard run), a spa treatment (if that’s something you particularly enjoy), or a mani-pedi to pretty up your nails.

There are definitely options for men at a salon or spa. But if the men don’t want to take part in the treatments, they don’t have to miss out entirely!

If there’s a guy in your group of running friends who doesn’t want a treatment, he can always take part in the run with you and either hang out with you while the ladies get their treatment, or leave after the run.

4. Sign Up for a Bucket List Race

Every birthday, we’re getting older. But that doesn’t mean we should stop challenging ourselves! For your next birthday, why not sign up for a Bucket List race?

All runners have those few races they dream of doing. It may be something nearby, or it could be a race in another state or even country. Whatever your dream race, a birthday is a great time to run it.

This could be something you do for yourself, or something you do for someone as a gift. Most races require an entry fee, so it would be a brilliant gift for a runner who’s serious about their sport.

If there are entry requirements, make sure you or the runner you’re giving the gift to has met them!

It’s also something you could consider doing together with a runner you love. It’s more than just an entry ticket – it could be a promise to train together and work towards something big as a couple or duo.

Some possible Bucket List races to consider are:

Or check out our full list of half marathon and full marathon races.

5. Give a Gift Card for a Running Workshop or Personal Training Sessions

This is a great gift for runners who need that extra bit of motivation or routine to get them going.

Beginners would benefit hugely from a running workshop or online coaching. It’s extremely helpful to get your running form right from the very start, so you don’t have to come back to it later and try to change things that have become a habit.

Even advanced runners will find plenty of value in personal coaching. Things like personalized training plans, a nutrition plan, individual support, and a goal-setting workshop are worthwhile tools to up your running game. It’s not an investment everyone thinks to make in themselves.

Besides anything, sometimes having someone other than your partner to be accountable to can make the biggest difference to your performance!

6. Run a Race on Your Birthday

If there’s a race nearby that falls on the day of your birthday, challenge yourself to complete it. Even if there’s a faraway race on the day, why not make a destination of it?

If there are none, choose one the following weekend or the weekend before. You can do it alone, as a family, with your partner, or with a group of buddies. Totally up to you!

It could be fun to dress up in funky costumes for the race. It is a birthday, after all! A post-race party could be the perfect way to wrap up the experience.

7. Create a Running Gift Basket Full of Small Running Gear

One of the most exciting things about being a runner is the gear! Clothing, shoes, water bottles, hydration belts, energy bars, foam rollers, and a multitude of other things!

A gift basket is an excellent gift idea for the runner in your life. Most runners will always be excited to get a basket full of random, cool stuff!

Get creative! Here are some ideas you can add to a running gift basket:

  • High-quality running socks
  • Running cap
  • Quality no-tie laces
  • Running-themed shirt
  • Foam roller or massage ball
  • Water bottle
  • Muscle rub or an ice pack
  • Kinesiology tape
  • Energy gels
  • Energy chews
  • Recovery drinks
  • Preworkout
  • Magazines, books, or a dvd

If the idea of creating a basket yourself is intimidating or time-consuming, consider a running subscription box, which sends a gift box every month or two.

8. Send a Running Card

A simple card is a fun and thoughtful way to say happy birthday to a runner you won’t be seeing on their big day.

You don’t need to send a typical, store-bought card, though. Why not make it unique and running-oriented?

  • Print a really large card and list all the runner’s completed races in it (the size will vary depending on how many races they’ve done, obviously!)
  • Create a collage of their best running pictures for the cover of the card
  • Get all the running buddies in the club or group to sign it with a personalized message
  • If you’re a Photoshop whizz, you can have some fun creating pictures of the birthday boy/girl running with the greats!

9. Run the Number of Miles (or km) You’re Turning

This one could be tough, depending on how serious a runner you are! Considering most serious runners are, at the very least, in their teens, that means you’ll most likely end up running more miles (or kms) than you ever have.

If running 30 miles on your 30th birthday seems like a gigantic amount, opt for kilometers. 30 kilometers equals 18.6 miles – still a good solid long run.

If that’s also an insane number of miles for you, why not split it up? You could run half in the morning, stop at a restaurant for a good lunch, and run the second half in the afternoon.

No need to do it all in one go. Set your new age as a mileage goal for the week rather than a single run. Or, pick a tough local hill and do that number of repeats on it.

Any of these goals done alone can be hard! A relay is a good option if you get a few friends involved.

It depends on you, of course. As an example, my grandfather is a 20-time Comrades Marathon veteran! But I doubt he’ll be able to run 83 (miles or kilometers) now!

10. Create a Surprise Run (similar to a scavenger hunt)

If you’re surprising a runner for their birthday, a hybrid run/scavenger hunt could be highly entertaining.

The birthday runner follows a set of directions given by you. They’ll have no prior knowledge of distance or direction until they get those instructions!

Add in a couple of fun things along the way. Instead of just having them run from one place to another, get them to take a twirl on the merry-go-round in the park, pat the friendliest-looking dog they run past, hug an old lady, or other random and funny boxes to tick.

Or, in true scavenger hunt style, ask them to collect items along the way. Picking up litter or collecting things like three orange leaves and a heart-shaped stone will make for a more interesting run!

You could also hide things along the way and guide the runner to find them using a map or guidelines.

Remember to gear this to the runner’s ability. If they’re exclusively a 5-miler, don’t lay out a 15-mile scavenger hunt!

11. Have a Run Photoshoot

Birthdays are about making memories! If your runner is one who appreciates photos, a running photoshoot could be a grand idea.

Hire a pro photographer (unless you happen to know one willing to ship in services to help you out). You can do this a few different ways:

  • Choose a photographer who’s experienced in sports and can get the “cool” shots
  • Run a short race and get them to snap pics of you and your friends along the way
  • Do a “model” shoot in your running gear!

12. Give a Running Book, Documentary, Movie, 1-Year Magazine Subscription, or Training Diary

Runners don’t just run. They read about running, watch movies about running, and document their own running. Gifts that satisfy that interest are almost always a hit.

If you know a runner’s tastes or their favorite runners/races, pick some media you know they’d love. And even if you aren’t quite sure, sneak a question to a significant other, or go with something more general. The top 5 bestsellers usually work well!

Here are some ideas:

For the Reader

There are plenty of running books out there, for beginners and advanced runners alike. These can range from autobiographies to running guides, cook books to humor, tales of world-class exploits to memoirs from back-of-the-pack runners. Knowing what what kind of running the birthday person likes and which runners they admire will help you buy the best gift.

A magazine subscription is another great option. This can be a physical magazine or an online one!

For the Documentary Fan

Like books, there are many inspiring running documentaries out there. Again, it’s important to have an idea of what your birthday runner likes. If they’re into ultra marathons, it makes more sense to choose a doc about that rather than one about a sprinter, for example.

For the Hard Trainer

A training journal is an excellent gift for runners who are serious about their training. If the runner you know tracks their metrics, records their distances, and is constantly tweaking their training to try and improve their performance, a training diary could make all the difference.

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Shanna is a writer who runs... And cycles, jumps rope, and lifts weights. She lives in beautiful South Africa and enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with other avid athletes.