The right pair of running shorts will help keep you dry, comfortable and warm (or cool, as conditions demand), utilising modern fabrics to create breathable garments that channel moisture away from the skin.
Different types of shorts will serve different functions according to their intended use – from lightweight and airy running shorts to casual shorts that look as good on the beach as they do on the running track.
Running shorts are lightweight garments designed for ease of movement, breathability, comfort and support.
The ideal pair of running shorts should be:
• Breathable: Modern synthetic fabrics are designed to allow water vapour escape rather than condense on the skin where it becomes cold and clammy
• Non-restrictive: Loose legs allow for freedom of movement although some runners may prefer the skintight fit of bike-style Lycra shorts or tights – it’s a matter of personal preference.
• Wicking: Your shorts’ material needs to have good ‘wicking’ properties. This means the fabric draws moisture away from the skin as you perspire, enabling it to evaporate.
• Comfortable: Elasticated waistbands should fit snugly without chafing or restriction, while any excess material should be kept to a minimum so that it doesn’t flap or chafe.
• Supportive: Skintight Lycra shorts will provide support in essential areas (we’re looking at you, guys) so everything stays as it should when you’re in motion. Many looser shorts have an inner brief for the same reason, so that they can be worn without underwear and so minimize the risk of chafing.
Many shorts will also have features such as UV protection and microbial treatment, making them a popular choice for runners training in all weathers
Common types of run shorts
Short shorts (i.e. with the leg line well above the knee) are the lightest and least restrictive option worn by the vast majority of runners, over all distances.
Beginners or casual runners may favour a longer leg for reasons of stylistic preference, or during the colder weeks of autumn/spring (most runners will wear tights in the winter). If this is your preference, it’s important to ensure that they are made of a good-quality breathable fabric (in order not to allow buildup of heat and moisture) and that the material doesn’t flap too much.
Many runners wear tight-fitting compression shorts that are designed to boost blood flow to the muscles for a claimed improvement in performance and recovery. Again, this is a matter of personal preference.