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The best winter running shoes are already in your closet

Competitor magazine devoted its January issue to winter running shoes. With scads of winter-weight sneakers featuring high-grip treads and thick mesh fabric, it was hard to tell which ones were right for a casual but committed NYC runner.

So Well+Good sat down with Johanna Bjorken, the merchandise director (and hot mama marathoner) at JackRabbit Sports to discuss which shoes to lace on this winter. Turns out you can save your money for socks.

“Winter running shoes are for dog walkers,” Bjorken quips. “I wear the same sneakers year round. When you start running, your heart rate goes up and it stimulates blood flow. Your feet don’t get as cold as you would think.”

Instead, she suggests buying yourself some cozy winter running socks (no joke), such as SmartWool’s Light Mini ($16.95 and up), for bounce and warmth. She’s also a fan of Balaga’s woolen socks ($8.95 and up).

Winter running shoes sell themselves on a more aggressive, snow-gripping tread. But the weather-proofing features that you gain are offset by heavier, bulkier shoes. Not good. And while a gripping tread may be good for snow or dirt, ice is treacherous no matter what shoe you’re in, points out Bjorken.

The question in Bjorken’s mind is not which seasonal shoe to buy, but does your sneaker make you want to run? The important thing, occasional 20” blizzard aside, is not to let winter dampen your love of outdoor running, she says.

“Gear—and the right winter layering system—should be motivating.” Especially when a bit more inspiration is needed during the coldest, darkest months. So while a new pair of shoes might motivate you to run in the cold, the winter streets don’t require them. —Alexia Brue