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It should be obvious, but since it isn’t I’ve prepared this list of items every runner wants along with the reasons why.  The general reason though is runners need gear.  Lots of it.  Especially in the winter.  My wife says I have more clothes than her and she tries to purge my t-shirts when she can.  It’s true, runners tend to collect t-shirts.  But these race mementos are no more clothes than prom or bridesmaids dresses.

Consider this lovely brown T made from thick 100% cotton by Hanes.  My Durango friends the Wales purchased it for me over Thanksgiving.  The back of the shirt explains why.  “I’d walk 500 miles for a Colorado Trail Nut Brown Ale.”  Well, it just so happens Tumbleweed and I did just that.  So does a shirt like this constitute clothes?  Technically sure but it’s much more about memories.  And it’s a walking billboard for my summer adventure.

Thick cotton Ts like this are useful.  My sweat and even a little snow are evident on the backside in this pic to the right.  Click on it to see an enlarged view.  I wore it today as part of my gear on a 6 mile scamper along the still snow packed Lobo Trail here in Longmont.  I’ve adapted to the December cold with smart gear choices.  Today I wore an Under Armour hot gear long sleeve shirt for my first layer.  This is a very thin material that whisks sweat away from the skin.  I covered this with the brown cotton t-shirt and added as a third overlay an Under Armour cold gear top that retains warmth.  The cotton T served to absorb moisture and trap it in the middle where it could stay warm while my skin remained dry.  I also switched from my Asics to my La Sportiva trail running shoes for their traction and because they are waterproof.

I wore thicker sets of runners gloves and fleece skull cap than last week.  This turned out to be unnecessary and I carried my gloves after a couple of miles.  The morning wind died and the sun was out strong  The thing to note is that a runner cannot sustain a daily regimen in the throes of winter with a single pair of gloves and caps.  Gloves and hats become as sweaty as socks so unless you’re washing laundry every day, five pair are not unrealistic.  I have 3 of each and would love more.  I’m certain that my clothes are laundered with less frequency than those of my wife.  After 24 years of marriage, I have sufficient history to speculate that her clothes are washed approximately 2.7 time as much as mine.  There have been times I wear something once and then don’t get it back until the season is over.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this marital circumstance of apparel washing favoritism.

And fabric variety is equally important.  Of my three gloves, one is very thin and the other two are thick.  I’d like something in between.  My fleece skull caps are the opposite with two thin and one ultra thick.  If a third dimension isn’t manufactured, it would be nice to have more of what I don’t have, another thin pair of gloves and a second heavy fleece hat.  The next really important item is high tech socks.  Cotton socks are dead to me.  One can never have too many of these.  You know how socks get lost.  Karen actually steals mine, which seems unlikely as her feet are half the size of mine – but apparently socks shrink.

I feel I’m good on gaters.  I have a short pair and another shin-high pair.  These are good in the winter for warmth and to keep your shoes dry and also in the summer for rough trail runs.  But if you know a runner who doesn’t have any, such a gift would surprise them and they’ll be thankful after trying them out.  Go to rei.com to order some online.  I’m actually not sure how to spell them – gaitors, gators or gaters.  Googling any of those iterations should present you with some safe web sites.

Last, a pair of either tights or sweat pants with matching sweater or hoodie makes for a good looking present.  Runners are notoriously poor at fashion so help them out by selecting a coordinated outfit.  Runners are so often fixated on the act of working out that they forget it helps to also look good – at least it helps those who have to look at them.  I’m partial to Under Armour and their Cold Gear outfits.  And this year they’ve come out with more color than in the past, especially for women.  Otherwise, Nike, Brooks and Adidas always have good stuff.  Some outfits perform well as lounge wear.  I recall seeing an entire family dressed in coordinating UA fleece lounge wear on a flight to Hawaii.  The father and son in one matching set and the mother and daughter in another.  Brit and I laughed pretty hard at that.  But hey, better that than wearing a wife-beater T and OP shorts.  Help a runner look smart this winter season.