As I have said before, and I cannot say this enough, begin by spending your money wisely on the most important part of your running gear, your shoes. Find a good running store. This is not the time to try and save a few dollars ordering something online or at the mall store where the person who is selling shoes is as likely to be running as I was a year ago. Find a serious and friendly running store. They should not only fit you properly for shoes, but also have you run in the shoes so they can help fit you as well so you can find the best shoe for your feet. And think foot comfort before you start worrying about how they look. Spend your money well here and you will at least be taking care of your feet and body. I'm not going to talk about my shoes, because they are just that, my shoes and they work for me, but they may not work for everyone.
As the weather starts to get cold, you will find those clothes you wore in the the cool days of fall just are not enough to keep you warm, especially when you are standing around waiting for a winter run to begin. This past weekend I participated in an 8k with a temperature of 28F at the race start at 7am and only 32F at 8am after I'd finished. What I wore kept me warm enough at the start to be comfortable, but not too warm. By about the second mile I'd worked up a sweat, and with zippers was about to cool down a bit. By the time I finished the modern fabrics dried out quickly enough that I was able to keep warm without developing a chill. So With that in mind, I'll give a bit of a run down on what I wear for these cold days.
For these cold days I pull out the Balega Trail Buster 2 Quarter socks which cover the ankles and offers some nice warmth when you need it. Made with a combination of Drynamix Polyester, Arylic, Wool, Nylon and Elastane, these socks kept my feet dry and warm throughout my run as well as afterwards. With no seams to rub between your foot and shoe, combined with cushioning on the bottom and mesh construction on the top for ventilation, these are my sock of choice.
When it gets this cold, I turn in my shorts for a pair of Nike Pro Combat Core Compressions Shorts combined with the Saucony Boston Pant.
The combination of the two layers gives me the warmth that I need without being bulky or too warm once I've started running. And while I may feel cool for a few minutes after the run, that does not last long and I am quite comfortable. The Saucony Boston Pants are semi-fitted so they are not tights, but also not baggy and loose like traditional sweat pants. Featuring two side seam pockets with zippers, they are well designed to carry what you need for your run or race.
With the 28F temperature at the start of the race, I decided to layer, three layers to be exact. All technical fabrics to hopefully wick away moisture as I began the race, but keep me warm and dry both before and after the race. My base layer was a long sleeve running shirt which was a race premium at my first December race, the Asics Thermopolis LT Crew. A super soft shirt which offers exceptional comfort and dries quickly after a run.
For my middle layer I added another race premium, this from my second December race, the Asics Lite-Show Favorite 1/2 zip. With thomb loops and a pocket for your iPod, this would probably be enough if I didn't need to stand around both before and after the race.
For the outer layer I wore a simple black North Face 1/4 zip. I wish I could say more about the model, but I haven't a clue what the model is called. It lacks pockets, but is a great jacket for those very cold days.
To top things off I wear the Mizuno Breath Thermo gloves and beanie. Designed to turn body moisture into heat for added warmth, they are excellent for keeping hands and head warm during a run, as well as before and after.
This year I've misplaced my Mizuno beanine and had to buy a hat at the runner's expo before the race. I picked up a Frank Shorter Thermal Running Hat. It certainly did the job and I was very glad I picked it up.
And as before, I'd also recommend having a few days worth of running clothes available. With three days of running gear on hand, I have fewer excuses to not run. While you may only need one outer layer, you should try to have multiple sets of those layers which come into direct contact with your skin. You can spend a fortune on running clothes, but if you shop smart you can save quite a bit of money. Even looking at the websites of the manufacturers you can find clothes at half of retail. And if you sign up for races, they usually have a "race premium" which is usually a shirt. This not only adds to your small collection of running clothes, but provides that training incentive to run regularly.
Remember to spend your money and invest wisely in a quality pair of shoes from a good running store, and then spend your money on your clothes.