Welcome to On the Run, a Strategist column in which we ask discerning runners to tell us everything they wore and brought on their most recent run, from shoes and socks to headphones and energy gels. Running-gear preferences are very personal and change depending on the season, so instead of declaring one pair of shorts or one sports bra the categorical best, we hope this series captures what works best for one particular runner on one particular run — and that maybe you can find something in it that works for you, too.
For this edition, I spoke with Brendon Babenzien, founder of the menswear brand Noah. He’s an avid runner who recently collaborated with Adidas on a collection of athletic-inspired clothing and shoes. Here, he details everything he wore on a run through the streets of Brooklyn on one of the first cold mornings of fall. As you’ll see, Babenzien’s fit leans more stylish than spandex, and he’s probably the only runner we know clocking miles in a J. Press sweater.
Babenzien says he’s been wearing Newton running shoes for at least a decade. He’s a fan of the shoe’s unique design, which replaces traditional heel cushioning with rubber “lugs” underneath the forefoot to encourage striking a more forward landing. “When you’re landing on those lugs, you’re getting a really good energy return,” he says. “It puts your body in a slightly different position.” Babenzien credits Newton shoes and the way they engage his running muscles with keeping him injury-free for years.
Because of Newton shoes’ seamless construction, Babenzien says he’s actually able to run sockless most of the year without getting any blisters. When it gets cold, he’ll add a pair of wool socks from Smartwool or Patagonia for an extra layer of warmth. Along with running socks from those brands, he also likes their lightweight hiking socks.“When it’s 20 degrees outside or there’s snow or slush on the ground, the wool still works to keep your feet warm even if they get wet,” he tells us.
Like any experienced runner, Babenzien knows the power of a good base layer when the temperatures drop. “The stuff you wear underneath your clothes is what does all the work,” he says. “So your wool base layer, or whatever technical top you’re wearing, does the heavy lifting of keeping you dry and warm.” He depends on this Tracksmith merino-wool base layer, which is also a favorite of other runners we’ve surveyed. Even though Babenzien says he doesn’t buy a lot of “actual running gear,” he owns a few pieces from Tracksmith because of the brand’s aesthetic and technical appeal. “It’s a really subtle, classic style, and the quality is quite good.”
Here’s where Babenzien’s look diverges from what you might expect to see on a runner: Instead of technical gear, he prefers pieces like Shetland sweaters and flannel shirts as outer layers that easily transition from running to everyday life. “There’d be scenarios where I’d go for a run and then end up at brunch in my running gear, and it just felt more comfortable to have on clothes that looked like they belonged there as opposed to a tight spandex running kit.” This J. Press sweater is not typical activewear, but Babenzien says that it keeps him warm yet doesn’t get drenched in sweat when he’s wearing a proper base layer.
Another unexpected item in Babenzien’s running kit is this pair of suede gloves from Paul Stuart. “Over the years, I’ve turned these dress gloves into ‘everything gloves,’” he says. “I can actually do anything with them and they hold up — they can handle it.” Barbenzien first got the idea for “everything gloves” after running in a similarly durable pair found in Oslo.
Note: Babenzien’s suede gloves are no longer available, but this shearling pair has a similar look.
Babenzien says these pants from Noah’s recent collection with Adidas are “a throwback to ’70s, early ’80s track pants.” Like classic track pants, these have stirrups to go under your feet and hold them in place, but Noah’s updated version include buttons so that you can remove them if you like. Babenzien’s favorite features of the pants are the three zip pockets, which hold his wallet, keys, energy gels, and more. The trousers’ rigid knit fabric keeps everything in the pockets in place so they’re not bouncing around as you run. Also from Noah is his cross-country beanie, an acrylic hat that’s suitable for crisp fall days (when it’s even colder out, he’ll switch to a wool version).
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