Autumn brings beautiful foliage, pumpkin-flavored treats and Halloween shenanigans. But with the crisp leaves and tasty snacks also comes the first hints of cold weather. If you're an avid runner, hiker or otherwise outdoor exerciser, you'll have to switch out the spandex shorts and cute tanks for cold weather gear. If you're a long-distance runner, you probably delight in hopping off the treadmill you retreated to during the blazing summer and returning to the cooler temps, which typically allow you to breathe better. So if you're excited to get out, make sure to be prepared with these fall and winter gear essentials:
A lightweight wind jacket is perfect for days where you want a little protection from the wind, but when it's too warm to have anything but minimal lining. Double up by purchasing a waterproof jacket that can keep you dry in the rain. These jackets are great because they're breathable.
Since it stays darker longer in the fall months, if you run outside early in the morning or right after work it's likely that it will be dark during some point of your run. Keep yourself safe from cars and bikes by wearing reflective arm bands – they're less dorky than a head lamp (and potentially less blinding for others on the road) but still alert others to your presence in the dark.
It's a great idea to purchase a fleece-lined compression long-sleeved top and leggings, which shouldn't be skin tight but should fit fairly close to your body. Compression gear absorbs moisture from the skin, which is very important to keep you warm in a cold environment.
On days where you need a little more than a base layer but you want to breathe a bit, you can wear a thermal vest. For a bonus, purchase a soft shell jacket with a zip-out vest so you can have layering options.
Warm socks are a must because if you're feet aren't warm, it can be pretty painful and distracting and lead to an unproductive workout. Purchase 100 percent cotton socks to stay warm in winter, or even wool.
Buy gloves or mittens formulated specifically for running.
Don't forget a warm, close-fitting hat, preferably fleece-lined! Our heads loose body faster than any other part of the body, so it's important to keep them covered. If it's not quite that cold, try a soft, lightweight headband to protect your ears from the wind.