One of things I love about this blog is learning about the people who read it. Whether it is through the Runner’s World Loop, interactions on Facebook, or saying hi at Indiana Running Company; I really enjoy “meeting” those who have taken an interest in my posts. What intrigues and flatters me most is finding I have actually developed a sizable male audience!
As a result, I am excited to offer periodic “men’s edition” posts to provide insight into men’s apparel. While I am certainly no expert on the topic, working at a running speciality store and having dated a fair share of male runners allows me to have a unique perspective.
One of the most important things my experience has taught me is men are very finicky about running shorts. Shorts are always too short, too long, too thick, or too tight, and even when the perfect pair is found, they are usually too expensive. While I cannot fix the price or how they feel, I can offer the following advice: they are probably not too short and are likely worth the money.
My favorite aspect of helping men shop for shorts is encouraging them to branch out from the long, multi-sport styles they typically wear. This process usually entails me knocking on a man’s dressing room door with a pile of shorter shorts that were “accidentally” overlooked. While the shorter pairs may have been bypassed out fear of not being “fast enough,” or “fit enough,” to wear them and not wanting to be honked at while running; once on, most find the shorter or more fitted shorts are actually more comfortable than their baggy counterparts.
Similar to those worn above by my friends Jordan and John, two Team Indiana Elite runners and employees at Indiana Running Company, split shorts and short tights are two of the most comfortable styles of running shorts that are often overlooked:
Split shorts tend to range from a 1” inseam (distance from the crotch to the bottom edge of the short) to a 4” inseam and therefore reveal much of the upper thigh. There are certainly 3-4” inseam shorts that do not have the split cut (an opening up the side of the leg), however splits allow your legs to move more freely due to the presence of less fabric.
From daily runs to racing, split shorts are an ideal choice for men who desire the feel of running without restriction. For those considering split shorts but are worried such a change may compromise the ability to carry gels, try the Sugoi 42K Short as it features two side pockets.
With a split short, men often question how to approach underwear as boxers and briefs are challenging to conceal due to the short’s revealing nature. Luckily, technical running shorts have a moisture-wicking liner, designed to keep you dry and meant to replace underwear. Regardless, some men prefer to wear underwear in addition to the liner and have to decide whether to go with or without when wearing split shorts.
When deciding whether to wear underwear it is important to consider chaffing or how the body may move within the short liner. Should you encounter chaffing or any sort of abrasion applying an anti-chaffing product, such as Sportwax or BODYGLIDE, prior to a run may help.
As previously revealed, I am a big fan of short tights (mid-thigh length spandex shorts). While short tights leave little to the imagination, they are incredibly comfortable, allow you to avoid bulky fabric, and do a wonderful job preventing chaffing between the thighs. Some are intimidated by the body-hugging nature of these tights but I always encourage people to slip a pair on, jog around a bit, and then make a decision.
If I were a man, my running wardrobe would be composed primarily of split shorts and short-tights; however, I understand those who do not want to show as much skin. For those who identify, I love the current offerings in mid-thigh length shorts:
While they are not as freeing as their shorter or tighter counterparts, mid-thigh length shorts can be equally as comfortable. These shorts often have more pocket space for gels (I am a huge fan of the Sherpa Short for this very reason) and offer more liner options such as the 2-IN-1 Short which includes a tight, moisture-wicking boxer rather than brief liner. Shorts with the boxer liner allow men to have the chaffing protection of a short-tight but the modesty of a loose short.
Beyond mid-thigh length shorts, there are many suitable knee-length (7-9” inseam) options such as the 7” Brooks Rogue Runner Short. Much like the mid-thigh length shorts, long shorts offer pockets and different moisture-wicking liner options but between the length and bulk of the fabric, they are not the ideal choice for staying cool.
Overall, identifying shorts that allow you to be comfortable and confident is key. Be sure to evaluate all of your options and do not be afraid to try something shorter or tighter than what you typically wear; you may be surprised how much you like it. Runners will always get funny looks and honks from passing cars so abandon your insecurities and wear what you please!