When you think of someone running outdoors, you may picture an image like the one above. Good looking slender people with nice looking clothes/gear and a smile on their face

Do you have to wear the cool gear to be a real runner?

While traveling last weekend, I had just returned to the hotel at the end of a 9-mile run in the snow (temp@24, w/c@15) and got some odd looks from two young runners just heading out. They were dressed in their “cool gear” and I… well… I’m a utilitarian (warm, dry, safe) and not all that interested in style over functionality.

I’m an early morning runner, and it’s usually dark when I start out, and it is lighter when I return. They looked at me with my flashlight, reflective vest, pepper spray, water bottle, running belt, hood was drawn up, an old pair of gloves, and insulated wind pants. Maybe they thought I was homeless?

I was about to tell them to be careful on the river path when they quickly exited toward the street for an in-town run. Good for them. It did make me wonder if I should get more of the fashionable gear.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried several of the well-known items from socks on up and have found some non-running gear that provided better results. When I speak of results, I mean warm torso, staying dry longer, no blisters or chaffing, comfortable after a few hours of movement, warm face, fingers, and toes, etc. Runner’s World has a neat little what-to-wear tool you may want to check out for some suggestions. This runner has posted her tips on a blog as well, very helpful.