Baggy sweats, the more threadbare the better, were once the typical winter duds for recreational runners. But most have traded their sweats for tops and tights in synthetic fabrics that wick perspiration away from the body, making you less susceptible to getting chilled.
CLOTHING. Runners don't need too many layers -- you'll quickly warm up. The classic winter running top is a zip-neck pullover in a midweight polyester/spandex fabric, such as Hind's Arctic DryLete Sportop ($60, hind.com). The fabric, smooth knit on the outside and fleecy on the inside, is intended to be worn next to the skin, more fitted than loose. Other companies have similar models. A good midweight zip top will cost $60 to $75. But it is a worthy investment -- you'll reach for it often. Bumping it up a notch, SportHill's Explorer zip top, for men and women, has front and arm panels in stretch wind-blocking fabric ($91.95, sporthill.com). Winter midweight tights or running pants go for $50 to $70, and models with ankle zippers are easier to get on and off.
On those rare, balmy winter days, the top and tights are sufficient. For wind, you may want a lightweight water-resistant jacket, such as Patagonia's Stretch Velocity Shell ($99, patagonia.com). For the coldest climates, Gore-Tex running jackets will cost about $150, and pants, around $100.
SHOES. The mesh tops of regular training shoes seem like magnets for puddles and slush. Nike's (NKE ) Air Teocalli ACG trail running shoes ($100) are made with Gore-Tex, have great traction on snow, and are also light enough for running on pavement. Pair these with padded running socks such as SmartWool's RBX Ultra Cushion version ($13, smartwool.com) to keep your feet warm.
GLOVES. Polyester knit gloves for under $10 can be tucked in your waistband until you need them. In the coldest weather, you may want wind-blockers as well. Manzella's unlined Z-Base Silkweight Windstopper gloves ($25, manzella.com) can be worn next to the skin or over glove liners.
REFLECTIVE GEAR. Clothing made with reflective material, particularly Scotchlite, helps drivers spot you in fading light, in the dark, or on rainy days. Sugoi's MidZero Zap Tights offer reflectivity galore and come in men's and women's models ($65, sugoi.ca). Amphipod's Xinglet reflective harness has 360-degree visibility ($21; amphipod.com). And the Clip-On LED light with super-reflective lens from Nathan Sports can be seen from up to 1,000 feet away ($6, batteries included; nathansports.com).
SUNDRIES. Bodyglide helps prevent chafing and blisters and comes in an easy-to-apply stick ($7, bodyglide.com). Kiehl's All-Sport "Non-Freeze" Face Protector, with SPF 30, protects against sun and wind ($15, kiehls.com).
Investing in even some of these items will make your winter workouts safer and more comfortable. No sweat.
By Christine Summerson