Running seems simple enough: Put one foot in front of the other in a semi-speedy fashion. In fact, as gyms have been mostly shut down this year because of the ongoing pandemic, many people stuck at home have taken up outdoor jogging. It’s free, it’s safe (wear a mask for the best protection), and dare I say, it’s fun. The equipment, too, seems appealingly uncomplicated. All you need are clothes and running shoes, right? While that’s technically true, a few specialized gadgets can make jogging—especially in the upcoming cold, wind, snow, and rain—a whole lot more pleasant. Plus, when you feel good, you run good. It’s simple science.
So here are a few gifts for that new (or seasoned) runner in your life.
Research shows that wearing a mask protects you and others from catching COVID-19. And while it might feel awkward at first, the covering has no significant influence on your performance. Even Olympian Galen Rupp won the 2011 US Track and Field Championships in the men’s 10,000-meter final while wearing a mask (to protect himself from an asthma attack from bad allergies) for the majority of the race. Under Armour’s sports mask features a water-resistant outer shell, an antimicrobial inner layer to thwart any sweaty smells between uses, and a foam layer made from polyurethane that allows air to flow through but blocks sweat and moisture. Plus, the fabric feels cool and comfortable throughout your workout. The mask also comes in a variety of sizes from XS to XXL to ensure everyone gets a good fit.
Running in the cold sometimes feels like a tease. When you first step outside, the frigid temperatures can be startling, making you want to bundle up with extra pant and shirt layers. But as you ease into the miles, you can quickly overheat with all those clothes. Instead, wear lighter layers (unless the conditions are truly frigid) and focus on making sure your core and extremities are well-protected. Arc’teryx’s Venta mitten uses Gore-tex’s new Infinium material, which protects from water and wind and is extremely thin and light. Plus the mitten design allows your body heat to keep all your fingers tight and warm.
In addition to keeping your hands warm, snuggly and comfy feet also make for a happy run. Smartwool’s PhD Run Cold Weather Mid Crew Socks are made of sweat-wicking wool that also provides comfort and durability. The mid crew length hits that perfect sweet spot of not too short to let wind in but not too long to cause overheating. Lastly, the socks have the company’s Light Elite cushioning that provides targeted support in the ball and heel of the foot. Otherwise, too much layering between your feet and shoes can restrict blood flow.
Shoes meant for winter running
There’s nothing worse than missing a carefully calculated step and landing right into a puddle on a cold and rainy day. To avoid this mishap, Nike took one of its most popular running shoes, the Pegasus, and winterized it with a water-repellent upper material and an outsole with wet weather traction to keep you from slipping on the slick pavement. The outsole’s micro grooves feature multidirectional shapes that displace the water when the shoe makes contact with the pavement, so your feet can leave and arrive home dry and warm.
A hat for all hair types
When cold weather hits, a good hat is essential. But for those with longer hair, stuffing your long locks into a hat can be annoying at minimum and cause a headache at the worst. Trailheads’ winter running beanie features an opening in the back to fit your hair through so it doesn’t get trapped, tangled, or bungled in your hat as you run. The piece is also made of quick-drying polyester fleece so your head can stay warm for the duration of your run.
A safer jog
Muchost of North America is now experiencing the shortest days of the year with the sun rising around 7 a.m. and setting by 5 p.m. That means if you’re trying to squeeze in a run before or after work, you’re probably going to be doing at least some of those miles in the dark. Brooks Running’s new Run Visible collection features clothing—from hats to windbreakers and leggings—that all come equipped with 3M Scotchlite Carbon Black Stretch Reflective material with neon colors. The material and coloring (which covers the most visible part of the light spectrum in low-light conditions) are strategically placed in so-called motion zones. That includes the joints that move the most while you’re jogging, like elbows, wrists, and ankles, so you can run safely no matter when you’re able to get that jog in.
A track(ing) star
Here’s the thing: You don’t need a watch to run. In fact, sometimes it can be incredibly relaxing to simply go for a jog without any regard for pace or distance. But let’s face it, there are a fair percentage of runners (myself included) that are stat-obsessed. And keeping track of your mileage can be a helpful tool if you’re beginning a training program or starting a buildup for a specific race, like a 5K or a marathon. The Garmin Forerunner 745 has everything a runner needs to geek out on including: GPS tracking, heart rate monitoring (with a resting heart rate feature), pulse oximeter, as well as apps to track your menstrual cycle and how much water you drink in a day. With this watch, almost nothing is left unchecked.
In addition to keeping your hands and your feet from freezing, maintaining a warm core will keep the rest of your body toasty without adding too much bulk that could make you overheat midrun. Nike’s Aeroloft running vest provides necessary warmth where you need it most. It also has pockets to store your keys, cell phone, or anything else you might need midrun.
Surprisingly, winter conditions can feature the worst glare of the year, as the sun easily reflects off the white snow and into your eyes. But running with sunglasses can be tricky, as the they can fall down and move in annoying ways as you bob. Goodr sunglasses have a grip coating that helps prevent the rims from sliding when you sweat. They’re also lightweight to eliminate bounce, and polarized for ultimate eye protection. Plus, they’re super cheap and mega sleek.
Tights that move with you
Many runners have a love and hate relationship with running tights. You need a pair that fits in just the right places for them to work well and feel comfortable. To make that happen, Reebok used its Motion Sense Technology (that the company originally designed for sports bras) to fill its tights with a material that stays liquid-like when in stasis and becomes more solid upon impact. This gives you a full range of movement on a run, while adding support precisely when you need it.