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Suiting up for winter running with Jack Rabbit’s Dina Pappalardo

Running, like yoga, is a form of exercise celebrated for its lack of necessary equipment. But when the temperature dives below 50° degrees, you need to suit up, and not in cotton stuff from Old Navy. (We learned the hard way.)

To outline the basics, Well+Good sought the counsel of Jack Rabbit apparel buyer Dina Pappalardo. “Everything we carry has been wear tested by our employees,” explains Pappalardo, a spunky, fashionable twenty-something who teaches fitness classes at Crunch and Equinox when she’s not cherry-picking the next season’s athletic gear or offering her Anna Wintour-like design advice to fitness brands like Saucony.

Rule of thumb: Always dress for 20° warmer than it is outside. The winter running kit items pass three criteria—fit, performance, and look. The layering system that Pappalardo explains starts with two essentials—a base layer top and tights—so start with these if you’re on a budget. And forget the Old Navy stuff, which isn’t manufactured for movement, can’t trap heat, and, in our experience, quickly stretches out.

The base layer should fit like a second skin

Base Layer: The Craft ProZero, $55
Dressing room tip: “If your base layer top doesn’t fit like a second skin it won’t work,” explains Pappalardo. She likes the internal air channels that quickly move sweat to the shirt’s outer layer, so you stay dry. The princess seams and longer cut also make it more flattering and feminine than stocky running gear of yore.

Skip this layer and substitute a fleece you already own if you're on a tight budget

Mid-layer: Saucony DryLete Thermal Sport Top, $70
“Think of it like the pink insulation of a house,” says Pappalardo about this fitted, but not tight, second layer. “When heat tries to escape from the base layer, the mid-layer traps it, creating a warm microclimate around your body. Pappalardo likes this jacket’s light brush interior (great for trapping heat) and half zipper (great for regulating it). The removable (for washing) LED light is dawn- or dusk-runner’s bonus.

You won't overheat in super breathable Gore Tex

Outerwear, Gore Power Lady Cycling Jacket, $199.99
Yes, it’s cycling gear. But Pappalardo loves the stretchy, breathable Gore-Tex jacket for running, too. It’s waterproof and windproof with sealed seams to prove it, and has a lifetime guarantee, which makes the high price a little easier to swallow.

Tights, Sugoi MidZero Tight, $70
“Not everyone feels comfortable in running tights at first,” Pappalardo acknowledges. “But soon they learn pants allow cold air in.” A snug base layer is the only insulation legs need because they produce plenty of heat and don’t have to share it protecting internal organs. This pair has a brushed interior and a simple athletic cut.

Any kind of beanie style hat that covers the ears works well.

Gloves, Nike Convertible Mitten, $25
These convert to mittens when conditions turn windy and rainy. Pappalardo likes the palm ventilation and the nose-wiping fabric along the thumb.

Jack Rabbit locations:
Union Square: 42 West 14th St (between 5th and 6th Aves); 212-727-2980
Upper East Side: 1255 Lexington Ave (between 84th and 85th street); 212-727-2981
Brooklyn: 151 7th Avenue (between Carroll St. and Garfield Pl.); 718-636-9000

What’s in your winter running kit? Tell us, here!