Winter is a prime time to get serious about running, it just takes a little creativity. And interval training, or periods of intense exertion followed by recovery, is a great way to improve your strength and speed as a runner. Hit your local track, hill or loop at the park with this gear in tow and incorporate an interval or two into your weekly routine. You’ll be ready to tackle your first race of the new year—whether virtual or in person—in no time.
Poor hydration can make exercise feel harder, making it more challenging to reach your goals. Those objectives are essential during an interval workout, meaning hydration is, too. The HydraPak UltraFlask 500 has an adjustable drinking tube and bite valve and a flexible body that shrinks as you drink, preventing sloshing if you take it with you on your warm-up or cooldown. And it’s free of BPA and PVC, meaning you’ll get out what you put in—same logic as an interval workout. $19
Whether you’re squeezing in early morning hill repeats or an afternoon track workout, you’ll need some energy to get you started. These Sport Beans from Jelly Belly are easy to stash in your glove box or gym bag. Packed with carbs, electrolytes and vitamins B and C, this is the perfect pre-workout pickup when paired with plenty of good old H20. $1.35
[Learn more: What Runners Eat Before They Run]
The last thing you want is a pair of shorts tugging at your legs when you’re flying back and forth on speedy 200-meter sprints. These shorts from rabbit, made of lightweight stretch polyester with a snug elastic waistband, offer the perfect combination of fit and freedom to pick up the pace. Plus, the fabric wicks moisture to keep you light and dry no matter the weather. $56
Weighing just a hair more than a deck of playing cards, the Janji AFO Middle shorts are light enough to keep your legs turning over during intense interval workouts. Janji packs an array of features in those 3.7 ounces, including moisture-wicking brief liners, a zippered back pocket for storage and a front brief pocket with a key loop, all within a shell of quick-drying, breathable 4-way stretch fabric. $60
Ask any runner to name their favorite tights and they’ll probably point to the ones with compression. The 7/8 Groundwork Tights from Janji deliver the goods: Their stretch fabric supports your muscles as you speed down the trail, and their breathability helps you keep cool. A snug waist holds it all together, with four pockets so you can comfortably carry everything you need. $88
Snug, chafe-free tights are golden for chilly workouts, and the Brooks Greenlight Tights are an ideal option. Zippers at the ankles mean you can put them on and take them off in a cinch, and a no-bounce rear pocket keeps your stuff secure while you’re out. Plus, UPF 50+ fabric helps protect your skin on sunny days. $85
Nike’s Dri-FIT fabric, composed of 88% recycled polyester, provides a comfortable base for a whole slate of innovative features on this top. Long sleeves with thumbholes help keep your hands warm during cold efforts, while a watch window lets you track your time and miles without having to fuss over cuffs. On the left side, a stash pocket houses keys or cards. $55
When you’re aiming for top performance, clothes that move with your body are essential. The no-nonsense REI Co-op Swiftland T-Shirt starts with moisture-wicking, stretchy polyester/spandex blend fabric and holds together with soft, flat seams. The finished product offers practical comfort on the days you’ll need it most, proving that sometimes, simple is best. $29.95
When your workout takes you into cool conditions, you’ll appreciate the snug fit and knit fabric of the New Balance Transform Half-Zip. A high collar, thumbholes and a curved hem that’s longer in the back keep you protected from the elements, while a zipper extending halfway down the chest means ventilation if you’re heating up. $65
Alternating between high-energy intervals and rest periods means some major ups and downs in temperature, especially on cool days. The versatile Arc’teryx Cormac Zip-Neck Shirt has you covered with breathable, quick-drying fabric for sweaty intervals and long sleeves and a high neck for the brisk rests in between. A zipper allows further temperature regulation, and UPF 50+ sun protection helps keep your skin safe, too. $95
The Hyperion Tempo from Brooks will have you moving like an elite athlete. Though the thick midsole looks hefty, the shoes weigh in at less than a pound per pair. The reason? That midsole is made of light, cushy EVA foam, effectively turning each stride into a bounce. On top, breathable and stretchy mesh uppers keep the shoes snug on your feet no matter how hard you’re pushing. $150
When a massage isn’t an option, this foam roller from Trigger Point Performance is the next best thing. Its EVA foam covering with a patterned surface design mimics the fingers of a deep massage, giving your legs the support they need to relax after a hard effort. A few rolls on tight hamstrings and you’ll feel the benefits, including increased blood flow and muscle repair assistance. $34.95
[Learn more: Our Favorite Gear for Workout Recovery]
Every athlete knows protein is key to recovery. But there’s more to it than that: Complex carbohydrates help with rebuilding muscle tissue and electrolytes refuel mineral stores in your body that are depleted during exercise. This drink mix from Hammer Nutrition offers that boost in between workouts, with an optimal 3-1 carb-to-protein ratio to help prevent soreness. Make sure to bring a tight-sealing bottle so you can shake up this mix ASAP—a 32-fluid-ounce Nalgene will do the trick. $3.50
[Learn more: Runners Nutrition Basics]
Now that you know what you need to bring, you need something to tote it around in. Weighing in at just over 1 lb., the Deuter Speed Lite 20 Pack is just the thing. A single-webbing hipbelt and adjustable chest strap help the pack stay put, and mesh side pockets and compression straps keep your stuff secure. The 20-liter pack is the ideal size for your workout: It offers enough room to stash your hydration (the pack is compatible with a reservoir and tube), nutrition, shoes and extra clothes, while being compact enough to take with you anywhere you need to go.
[Learn more: How to Run Faster]
Interested in more staff picks and kits? Find more collections here.