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A Checklist for Your Winter Weather Workout Wardrobe

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"What are you, crazy?"

My husband and I get that a lot, because we don't let a little thing like subzero temperatures keep us from running outside. And sure, it takes time to dress for cold weather workouts. But running laps around a dozen people sweating it out on treadmills while they watch MSNBC doesn't compare with rounding the bend to discover a pack of kids playing hockey on a frozen neighborhood lake.

If you want to run outside in cold weather -- or have to walk to work in a snowstorm because your car won't start -- may I offer a few wardrobe suggestions from what's often the coldest swirl on the weather map?

Toe socks! They're like gloves for your feet, and they keep the skin between your toes dry -- especially if you powder those toes before you slip them on.

Plastic bags! I wear a plastic bag on top of the toe socks, then wear another pair of socks that go all the way up to my knees over those. When it's really cold (I mean, colder than usual), I wear another pair of plastic bags over the first three layers.

I tuck hand warmers into a light pair of gloves, then slip plastic bags over them -- you have to sort of form the fingers, obviously, for what's next -- and then don a warmer pair of gloves.

The liquid crystal display on my digital stopwatch doesn't work in the cold. So I nestle the watch on another hand warmer, make a blanket of Saran Wrap, and use a ponytail holder to keep everything in place. The Wrap's nice and clear so you can still read the stopwatch -- and it's light, so you can still work the buttons... even with two pair of gloves on.

You've probably heard the advice to dress in layers. I layer hooded sweatshirts over long-sleeved tops and leggings under snowpants.

If you're not running you won't necessarily need the rubber contraptions with cleats on the bottom that you can strap onto your shoes, but if you worry about falling on ice I can't imagine leaving the house without them.

Headwear is critical. I wear a fleece headband with a baseball cap over that, to keep it in place and keep the wind at bay. Then, I tie a fleece scarf around my face and neck, put a balaclava over everything, and tie it in place with a cord from one of my hooded sweatshirts. A balaclava is a word I only learned while writing this post, but the garment is a lifesaver. I pull the top way down over the bill of my baseball cap, then pull the drawstring tight so my face is almost completely covered. I can see, but that's about it. Oh! And breathe. My breath forms a little bit of a greenhouse -- and before long it's pretty toasty in there. Well except for the frost that starts to cover everything. But by then we're halfway into our run and it's too late to turn back so we may as well finish!

If you're planning to listen to your iPod during the trek, I strongly suggest you get those earbuds or headphones in place before you don any headgear. It's hell starting over.

If it's dark, you'll want something reflective on top of all this. Sometimes in the summer it seems as though people driving by are playing chicken with you, seeing if they can run you farther off to the side of the road. When it's really cold they're more likely to slow way down to get a closer look at what kind of maniac would be outside... voluntarily.

And I know what you're thinking. Attractive? Depends on what you find attractive. If you're partial to scary, attractive it is!

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