The Marathon Diaries: Snow-Ready Apparel

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I woke up this morning to fresh, white snow. Snow! I know! It's totally shocking, right? Only it's not. I live in Jackson, WY, and it's only April 30th. We get snowstorms in early June, hailstorms in July and snowstorms in late August. It's normal for a 6,237-foot-high mountain town. And that makes it difficult to choose what to wear and trail running and road biking. If it's 30 degrees and cloudy, I'll wear an insulated vest. If it's 30 degrees and sunny, all I need is a long-sleeve base layer.

My new rule of thumb? If you're trail running, dress like it's 10 degrees warmer. If you're road biking, dress like it's 10 degrees colder. My newfound theory has helped me nail down the following must-have winter running clothes:

 Sugoi's Piston 200 Compression Tights (shown at left, $90) keep my legs and ankels warm with their tightly-knit but high-stretch fabric. The Pistons feature compression technology which improves muscle stability, circulation, and efficiency or movement and recovery. They work, too. I have knobby kneecaps that pop in and out of place. These tights keep them snugly in line. On warm, sunny days, I opt for my kitten-soft, lightweight Merrell Propel tights (shown at right, $59) that fall just below my knees. These comfy tights quickly move moisture away from my skin and can withstand mile after mile of wear. 

I have a confession. I love running through mud, as if coming home speckled with dirt, somehow makes me feel like I've accomplished something much more significant than I probably did. Salomon's XT Wings GTX ($160) are my favorite waterproof running shoes. The Gore-Tex-armored textile can handle ankle-deep snow, muddy potholes full of water (yes, I intentionally run through them) and even stream crossings. They are a must-have for winter and shoulder-season runs.

Here's another confession. I used to steal my mom's gold-toed, calf-high socks to run in when I was in middle school. (Yes, I was the epitome of cool). My new obsession? SmartWool's W's PhD Trail Run Mini ($17), which provide light cushioning for my feet. They are 78 perfect Merino wool, 19 percent Nylon and 3 percent elastic. They're 100 percent soft and comfortable. I've worn my pair for more than a year—and they are still as comfy as the day I first got them.

 Ibex's Women's Woolies Zip T-Neck ($72) keeps me toasty warm on sunny, mild winter days. When I start to heat up on mile two, I just unzip the eight-inch zippered neck and let the cold air vent my upper body. Best of all, this long-sleeve base layer doesn't itch like some of my other not-so-beloved Merino wool base layers.

  Lululemon's Flow Y Bra IV ($42) comes in a sexy, bright shade of teal and is made with four-way stretch. It doesn't pinch, it isn't overbearingly tight and it provides just the right amount of support.

 Outdoor Research W's PL 150 Gloves ($35) are soft and stretchy. They're a heavyweight liner so I only wear them on cold, windy days. On warmer days, I prefer to go gloveless.

 GoLite's Cady 2477 Synthetic Insulated Vest ($120) is a semi-fitted, lightly insulated vest made with a 100-perfect recycled polyester face and lining. It's thin enough to put on as an added layer but not puffy enough to overwhelm me half a mile down the road.

I still can't find a knitted stocking cap or, better yet, a thick knitted headband that doesn't easily slip off to warm my ears and keep my long bags from flopping in my face. I've searched high and low—and I can't find anything I like.

Ladies, fill me in. What do you wear?

—Christina Erb


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