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Winter Runners Share Tips on Affordable Gear

By Ben Fractenberg | January 16, 2012 11:49am
Nina Malta, 54, and Paloma Malta, 19, suggested using socks for gloves if you really want to run on the cheap, Jan. 6, 2012.
Nina Malta, 54, and Paloma Malta, 19, suggested using socks for gloves if you really want to run on the cheap, Jan. 6, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

COLUMBUS CIRCLE — Marathon Runner Nina Malta, 54, doesn't think you need expensive gear to train through the winter.

"If you don't have much money you're going to be simpler and more creative," said Malta, who was running with her 19-year-old daughter in the park on a recent frosty January day. "Focus on extremities: head, feet, hands. Focus on covering those parts well."

While running in winter means you need to be prepared, it doesn't mean you have to spend big bucks. There are many ways to stay in shape during the cold, dark months with some simple, relatively inexpensive gear — clothing you may already own. And for many runners, the feeling of jogging outdoors, even in the worst elements, is much better than being cooped up inside on a treadmill.

"The best part of running in winter is the park isn't as full," said Rafael Perez, 30, who was jogging from his Midtown apartment through Central Park recently. "[In] the wintertime the park is all yours."

Perez wore Uniqlo Heattech long johns he bought for about $20 under his shorts to keep warm.

Malta — who lives on Columbus Circle and has run in seven New York City marathons — added that if you don't have much money you can use what's already in your closet to keep warm.

"If you can't buy gloves you can wear socks [on your hands]."

Putting Vaseline on your face is also a good way to protect it from the wind, she said.

Gabrielle Derrig, 30, a Harlem personal trainer, was jogging through Central Park recently with her five-month-old daughter.

She runs with her daughter and dog even in the cold months, bundling her child in two blankets and covering the stroller with a plastic cover.

"I tie the [dog's lead] around my waist and I push the stroller."

Derrig admitted that she uses more expensive gear such as her yoga top by LuLuLemon, which she said cost her around $125 and which allows moisture to leave her body while keeping her warm.

But she added that she keeps costs down by finding less expensive items as well.

"I like the earmuffs that go behind your head. You can get them anywhere for like five bucks."

Her running partner, Scott Biel, 33, said although it's not thought of as a sports store, he also thinks Uniqlo is a good place to shop for running gear.

"If it's cold I'll wear a Heattech [under shirt] and a sweater over it."

Biel said he spent about $40 for his Uniqlo undershirt and long johns.

Though he wasn't wearing one during an unusually warm January day, Perez said the most important item for cold weather running was an inexpensive hat, which he said you can get from a street vendor for $5 to $10.

"Most of your heat leaves through the head. Get a cheap hat, especially if you're going to be sweaty. You don't want Armani or Gucci."

Perez said he loves running during winter because of the solitude it affords him.

Anton Yshyn, 37, of Hell's Kitchen, said he spent about $150 on his entire outfit, excluding the shoes. He wears a Nike Dri-Fit hat, gloves, top and pants.

Similar to the LuLuLemon yoga top, the breathable material allows moisture to pass through it while keeping your body warm.

But every jogger stressed that if you can't afford expensive gear, by just running your body will naturally warm you up. And braving the elements can be exhilarating.  

"There's such a sense of accomplishment," said Perez. "When you run in a gym it's like hamster running. This is warrior running."