Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Running in Shorts

It's Spring in the Northern Hemisphere! On the East Coast, that means cherry blossoms, longer days and transitioning to running shorts.

Running shorts may be a right of passage. Many of us, when we first started running, wore whatever workout shorts we had lying around. If we were dealing with weight issues or modesty, we didn't want to show a lot of leg and held onto our tights for dear life. I know people who think they don't deserve running shorts because they "just jog." If any of these scenarios sound familiar, I say, if you're getting out there at least once a week and are logging more than a mile per run, it's time to dress like what you are: a runner. Buy some running shorts.

What to Know, Before Go (to the store)
Running shorts come in different cuts.
There is the kind that Usain Bolt might wear, with a split up each side, allowing a full range of motion. Unless you're very fast, have an extremely long stride or have a tattoo on your hip that you're dying to show off, I suggest you leave these on the hanger. Get ones that have a small split or even just a dip, on each side.
There's also low-rise and standard-rise waist. I prefer low rise because I have a short torso. Standard is good if you have a long torso or a fuller mid-section. Go with what looks good on you.
Real running shorts have a liner.
This may seem odd to a first-time buyer of running shorts, but real running shorts come with the equivalent of built-in underpants. The liner of my Nike and Brooks shorts are white. My Pumas, pictured here, are extra fresh because the liner is black. Either way, unless the shorts are too tight, nobody else can see them, so it doesn't matter.
The liner is valuable for a couple reasons. First, it keeps you from having to run in your everyday underwear. Be they boxers, a thong, lacy, heavy cotton briefs or commando, none of these are good options when you're out in the elements, doing a repetitive motion and working up a sweat.
Second, it keeps your shorts from clinging to your sweaty booty. I know, vanity is a sin, but I stand by my desire to look as cool as possible while running and clingy, sweaty, saggy shorts don't help.
Good running shorts have a pocket.
I have a cousin in Colorado who is a track star. The one time we did a long run together, she kicked my butt while wearing Champion basketball shorts, which don't have a pocket. Around mile 13, she lost her ID, which she was carrying in her sports bra. We spent 30 minutes stiffening up as we retraced our steps, slightly hunched over, looking for something that could easily have fit in a shorts pocket.
When runners head out, we almost always need to carry keys, money, an ID or lip balm. Good running shorts make that easy with a pocket that is either sown into the liner, near the waistband, or a zip pocket in the back, like the shorts pictured here. 

Running shorts are made of nylon or a wicking fabric.
Once again, cotton is rotten when it comes to running. Cotton running shorts tend to bunch up between your thighs and they show how sweaty you are with stains and sags. Basically, cotton shorts make you look like a struggling runner, even if you're feeling strong. Nike, Brooks, Asics, Puma and RoadRunner all offer great, wicking shorts. When you're shopping, the description on the tag or in the catalog should include something about taking moisture away from skin, helping keep you dry. If they feel and look good, buy those!

It might not be warm enough to wear shorts around town, but when the temps hit 50, it's time to work on that mid-thigh tan line that says "I'm proud to be a runner!"