These 11 pieces of gear keep me running (and riding my bike) through the winter. I rock and roll in everything except ice/snow (because I have a history of twisting my ankle, which sidelines me for weeks).

Thankfully, most snow doesn’t last more than a few days on the streets here.

This setup has kept me in fighting shape down into below freezing temperatures +/- windchill.

I actually used to hate running. It was my least favorite part of triathlons, and I dreaded the pavement pounding.

Trail running is a different animal, and I wish I could do more of that. But these days I’m rediscovering city running as part of my daily minimum effective dose of exercise regimen.

I don’t track mileage. I just run for the fun of it. The way that gives me joy.

  • Switched from heel strike to toe strike.
  • Reduced my stride length.
  • Breathe only through my nose.
  • Became more aware of feeling the rhythm rather than constantly wondering why I was running.

Which means a quick-paced run of a mile or so finished off with a few sprint intervals. 20-25 minutes. Fires up the endorphins and sets me up for the day.

Especially when it’s cold out and there’s no one else out. The sharp cold is invigorating. Like a Scottish shower.

Many of of these items earn usage everyday. Good gear is good for momentum.

 

1.Pearl Izumi Ride Pro Lobster Gloves

I dig these because the provide the warmth of a mitt format, but with as much dexterity I need usually. They have nice grippy palms.

Plus, the thumb are is a soft area perfect for swiping away any moisture/sweat with built in wipes.

My only hack on these was to sew on little buckles so they could snap together when I need to stow them together and not lose one.

2. Outdoor Research Versaliners

Two-in-one double layer gloves. These ingenious glove design comes with a waterproof shell that stows away in a pocket.

Good for autumn and cooler rainy days.

These also pull double duty as an additional inner layer inside my Pearl Izumi gloves.

3. Columbia Rebel Roamer Pants

I break these out in the really foul weather when it’s raining. These have always kept me warm and dry.

My version is packable, which is handy for days when you head out and the weather may turn nasty but not yet.

The velcro closures on the bottom are a nice touch for getting the pant cinched up around boots.

They’re also an integral part of my snowball defense armor haha.

4. Cap Comforter aka Commando Cap
Redux Commando Cap / Cap comforter

This is from my cabinet of curiosities. I made this from a military surplus wool scarf.

It’s modeled after one of the longest-serving pieces of military gear that’s been in action since WWI and originated by the British. They called it the Cap Comforter and was standard issue for soldiers. However, commando units adopted wide usage of these because of its versatility.

Commandos before the Hardelot Raid

There’s four layers of wool to fend off even the coldest winds, and also avoids the prophylactic look of most caps.

The original ones were meant to also double as a scarf, but I knew I’d never wear it as a scarf, so I trimmed it to make it less bulky. But I left enough so that it can ride higher just at the ear tips or I can pull it down when I need more coverage.

The pin is from the U.S. Army signal corp. The 124th battalion enlisted Commanche Native Americans in radio communications to befuddle German code breakers. This crew became one of the first troops to assault the shores of Normandy and provide intel for awaiting forces.

 

5. Smartwool Merino Wool tee

This is the baselayer. It also gets worn every day for my morning workouts.

As you can see I love wool, especially merino. I love that it doesn’t hold stink like synthetics, holds heat even when wet, dries quickly.

Also, zero itch factor and I’ve had mine for years and it shows no signs of giving up.

6. Smartwool Merino Wool Longsleeve

Modulates body temp so I’m never feeling too cold nor too hot. This is my go-to sweater most days.

Good for a run. Good at the office. Good always.

7. Eddie Bauer Microtherm 2.0 down jacket

Thin and light but mighty warm.

8. Montane Featherlite Shell

Ultralight and windproof helps cut through any wind. It does a great job of not adding almost zero bulk but blocks out the chill.

It’s also breathable so I’m not accumulating moisture and wetness as I run.

9. Altra Escalante 1.5

This shoe was a game changer for me. The wide sole and toe box changed my gait and reduced knee pain.

10. Smartwool PhD merino wool socks

Once you go wool, you can’t go back.

11. LED light belt

Weighs next to nothing and assures you and I won’t get run over. USB rechargeable, so no annoying battery changes.

I wear it crisscross my torso from my shoulder.

And green is proven to be higher visibility than red. So much more effective than those little bike lights.


SCOUT Analog Digital

One of our new designs in the works is named SCOUT. The SCOUT design includes three modules: Analog, digital, and compass. They could be connected or used with other main watches.

The SCOUT design is inspired by the Seiko Field Master #1421-0140 (aka Contra) circa 1980.

It’s also inspired by my saddest day as a watch collector. That was the day my digital module went MIA — popped out of the Seiko Contra case during my bike ride home. Continue reading


A project from my cabinet of curiosities.

Meet Fuente Fuente OpusX Belicoso.

A cigar box ukulele I made during lockdown.

For the brave: Full origin and build story.

When I first learned to play my new ukulele, my fingers hurt. They turned an angry red. They ached.

The notes sounded horrible.

In time the pain receded and music ascended.

Through a long year, suffering produces callouses in our lives.

We harden. The shell thickens to dull the onslaught.

But we have to be careful that we don’t allow that layer to get too thick.

Or we won’t feel a thing. And worse — we’ll lack compassion. 

It takes time to process and let your soul catch up with all that’s happened and changed.

Cigar Box Ukulele Finished

Distressed for Purpose

It’s the callouses that enable us to press into the pain.

Because we’ve been there. We’re willing to push in.

Because even if we can’t see it, we know deep down suffering can become glory, and glory is a beacon.

And that requires time and space to heal and recover.

When we press into the pain that has healed, we make musical notes that resonate with others who bear the same pain.

 

In the Dark

Sometimes, we think of callouses as a bad thing.

Ugly. Rough. Coarse.

The mechanic or carpenter with tough scaly hands. Yet what wonders they craft with their hands — which have been formed by the work they’ve practiced repeatedly.

They become so practiced they could do their craft with their eyes closed.

Sometimes before bed, I dim the lights and strum my ukulele to decompress.

At first I had to squint down at my fingers. But after a few weeks I realized I didn’t even need to look down at the strings anymore.

Our practice shapes our lives to the best form to serve others. Our work makes something, and at the same time the work shapes us. It builds muscle memory in our lives so we can build others up.

But it takes time. Reflection. Being willing to stay in the dark. Sit and learn from the pain.

To be unashamed of the scars.

And even when we can’t see, even when things are dark and uncertain, because of our practice, we will know which notes we need to play in the night — for ourselves and for others.

Cigar Box Ukulele and Guitar

Want to make your own? Here’s how I made mine.