Yesterday my alarm went off at 5:30 a.m., a self-inflicted reminder that I was supposed to get up and join a friend for a run. He wanted to go to Golden Gate Park for speed work, which is one of my favorite workouts. The night before, I wore my running clothes to bed and left my shoes nearby, little tricks to help get me out the door. Heck, I didn’t even feel groggy. I had no real excuses but still wanted to sleep in.
We’ve all been there—the moment when what you should do runs counter to what you want to do. Even with tricks like automatic coffee machines and an arsenal of shrill alarms, getting out of bed to run is rarely easy. The best things in life are rarely easy, though, and the less you think about your options, the better. Just go.
Those who persevere past the desire to burrow back under the blankets get to enjoy one of the best running seasons—fall. From Labor Day until the first snow flies is a short window of great running conditions—cool temps, autumn colors, no bugs, and empty trails. The catch? It takes a little more planning. To make fall running enjoyable, you want the right stuff: apparel that is warm, breathable, and good with a little rain and mud. After years of forcing myself out of bed and into cold mornings, here are the pieces of gear I rely on the most.
Hoka Torrent Shoes ($120)
I log most of my miles on the trail and over the years I’ve used shoes from every major footwear brand. One stands well above the rest—Hoka. Designed to protect your legs on the downhill with superior cushioning, Torrents are surprisingly light and have strong traction, keeping you upright in mixed conditions.
Icebreaker BodyfitZone Leggings ($120) & Long Sleeve Crew ($110)
The most important piece of clothing is always the one closest to your skin. The old adage “cotton kills” is blunt but true. Materials like cotton that don’t retain heat when wet can be dangerous in cold weather. Icebreaker’s merino wool base layers are made to fit tight, stretch with you, and help regulate heat and moisture. And they’re durable enough to last years.
Salomon Bonatti Race Waterproof Jacket ($150)
When it comes to running jackets, less is often more. You want something that sheds rain and mist but doesn’t trap a ton of heat. The Bonatti Race jacket is just that. Ultralight, simple, waterproof, and well made, the jacket helps me warm up for the first few miles, keeps me dry on wet days, and can be stuffed into a pocket and almost forgotten when I don’t need it.
Stance S Crew Socks ($18)
Runners need socks that are durable, warm when wet, and snug enough to prevent blisters. Stance’s crew socks are all three—and stylish. I’ve come to learn that Stance makes a huge array of the best wool socks on the market, hands down. While they’re known for their flashy look, we love Stance socks because of their durability and comfort.
Saxx Kinetic 2N1 5” Shorts ($75)
As far as most runners are concerned, the shorter, the better. Saxx, makers of the most comfortable underwear on the planet, recently launched a shorts line that builds on its past successes. The Kinetic shorts feature a comfortable liner, small pockets, and quick-dry material, combining to make one of the best pairs around.
Skida Nordic Headband ($18)
The three rules of adventuring are: look good, have fun, and be safe—in that order. Skida is breaking into the headwear market by emphatically checking all three boxes, making products like the lightweight Nordic Headband with creative patterns and quality materials. A soft microfleece liner and a wicking synthetic outside make for a perfect piece. After recently switching to Skida from another brand, I’ll never go back.
Salomon Agile Warm Glove ($30)
I bring my phone on many of my runs, mostly to listen to music. I also like feeling my hands. The compromise I’ve made is an investment in the Agile gloves, which allow me to switch songs using touchscreen-compatible fingertips without the hassle of taking them off.
Suunto 9 Watch ($600)
For years I lived firmly in the anti-watch camp, blissfully logging miles at variable speeds, occasionally getting lost, unconcerned with goal-setting or weekly statistics. Then came Suunto—and then came progress. Features like an altimeter, a heart-rate monitor, and intensity zones may at first seem like overkill, but they’re not. You’ll understand their power once you start using them. On top of that, the watch is waterproof and the battery lasts 25 hours with precise GPS tracking. It’s a must-have addition to any runners’ kit.
BioLite HeadLamp ($50)
Launched this week on Kickstarter, the HeadLamp is poised to change the way we think about headlamps. Designed for movement, with a sleek profile and snug fit, the HeadLamp enables you to run fast without struggling to mitigate headlamp bounce but doesn’t strangle your forehead. Its reasonable price, 330-lumen output, and USB rechargeability make it an all-around great purchase.
Salomon Agile 6 Set Pack ($100)
On the weekends I do long runs, often 15 to 20 miles. For activities this long, I need to bring a few more snacks, extra water, and a spare layer. This requires a good running pack, and my favorite is the Agile 6. It fits comfortably, its straps and pockets minimize bounce, and at six liters there’s just enough storage for the necessities.
Gu Stroopwafels ($24 for 16)
Last but not least, my favorite snack, a Gingerade Stroopwafel. They provide all the nutrients you need for a hard run—carbs for energy, amino acids to prevent muscle fatigue, and electrolytes to replenish what you lose from sweat. And they’re a delicious wafer-and-syrup combo, great for almost any run.