Friday, July 6, 2012

Shorts Roundup - Part 1

Earlier this year I went on a quest for the perfect shorts.

Actually, strike that. It wasn't a search for perfect shorts. It was a search for any shorts that didn't remove skin from my inner thighs. Sure, some removed less than others, and some took longer to start, and BodyGlide helped some, but make no mistake -- up until very recently (and I'm talking about close to 20 years of running, here), every pair of running shorts I could ever remember wearing caused some amount of chafing.

I think mainly this is a body structure issue. Even in my sub-120 lb high school days, I had the thigh-rubbing issue. It's just how I'm built. I think I'd have to be unhealthily skinny for that not to be the case. By and large, my approach has been compression shorts, just because traditional looser ones seemed to cause more of a problem faster. But I don't always want to wear compression shorts (especially when running through my neighborhood), and although I wore my best, most reliable pair for CIM last December, 26.2 miles was still far enough for me to end up with giant, gaping, bloody wounds on my legs. It was all kinds of bad.

Here's my other issue with a lot of running shorts: They freaking cost an arm and a leg! That means I can only buy two pairs before they become a moot point.

I understand that you get what you pay for -- it's not that I'm unwilling to pay a premium for technical fabrics and solid construction (not to mention that shorts with liners & zipper pockets are more complex to put together than, say, a pair of these). Sure, I'm willing to pay more than ten bucks for those things, but this is just absurd:


Brooks Glycerin 2-in-1 -- $45.95


Lululemon Run: Speed Short -- $54.00


Pearl Izumi Fly Ultra Women's Running Shorts -- $64.95

That is the equivalent of a bottle of very nice whiskey.

For that kind of money those shorts better effing FLY me over the finish line. I'll make one concession, and that's that if I knew, for a fact, that a $50-60 pair of shorts would let me run miles and miles and miles and not eventually tear the skin off my legs, I might be able to bring myself to invest in one pair for long runs. But I'm not willing to spend that kind of money on the off chance that they might.

Enter a trip to Sports Basement back in March. My limit was $30 / pair. That's all I was willing to risk on an untried product. Happily, SB was having a big sale (um, when are they *not* having a big sale, actually? This is why it's dangerous for me to go there too often) and I found two pairs that normally would have been out of my price range but that snuck in just under it with the discount.

The aptly named Brooks Epiphany Stretch Short II - $28 (retail = $36) Apparently the pink & black are currently on sale for $23 on the Brooks website. They also have all the other cool colors there. SB only had this combo.

ASICS Everysport Short - $25 (retail = $32) There are a few additional color choices available on the ASICS site.

The wear testing got off to a rough start, as it began pouring rain about two miles into my first run in the Brooks pair. And really, once it's pouring rain, pretty much everything's going to chafe. But I gave them a few more tries, and discovered that, lo and behold, for the first time since middle school, I could run more than five miles in a pair of non-compression shorts with my epidermis intact!

The ASICS pair worked out really well also. They are now my first choices every time I go for a run. At $32, I'll happily pay full price for a second pair of the ASICS, and while I'll probably hold out on the Brooks & see if the price drops below $36 for some of the other cool colors in the reasonably near future, even that isn't unreasonable for something I know is going to work out.

Bravo, athletic short technology! Apparently there have been some major advances since my college days. (I wish I could point out to you what they are, but I still have an old pair of Nike Tempo shorts that as far as I can tell are made almost identically to the new Brooks pair, and I still can't run in those without making an absolute mess of my legs. They've since been relegated to lounge wear.)

So there you go. What's next? Well, I had a See Jane Run gift card I needed to spend today, and figured as long as I was shopping at the Fancy Pants Lady Running Store on somebody else's dime, I might as well try out one of those uber-pricey pairs of fancy lady shorts and see what nearly double the price of my Sports Basement shorts gets me. More on that later.

So tell me -- Am I crazy, here? These are totally absurd prices, right? Or do I just have to accept that we now live in a world where retailers can reasonably expect me to cough up the cost of a bottle of Jefferson's Reserve Very Old for a pair of shorts?


  1. This is a well timed post for me - I'm always on the hunt for shorts. I also have large thighs and they rub, there's no hiding the fact. So I tend to run in longer shorts, ie, half way down my thigh. I would love some shorter ones so I could get a bit of a tan and be a bit cooler. I tried some Under Armour compression ones a few weeks ago - not bad but not perfect. I wouldn't wear them for a longer run than 6 miles.

    I would love to wear shorter ones but I don't want to chafe, it just sounds horrible!! Do you have any compression style shorts that don't chafe? I prefer compression style - they make me look a bit thinner, somehow.

    And yes, the prices are bad. I'd prob pay about $40 for some good ones, because I know I'd get my money's worth. But anything else would need to go on the Christmas list!

    1. I think my favorite is probably the Nike Pro Combat line. I've seen them on sale for as cheap as $10ish, but even full price, they're mid-$20s, tops. They come in several different lengths -- I think mine are all kind of the middle length. The down side is no pockets, though. :P

  2. I agree -- prices are absurd!! I can get away with most shorts if I wear Body Glide, but sometimes the liner bugs me, and many of them are just not flattering. (Nike Tempo shorts are still the "it" thing in running shorts, and they look horrendous on me.) Why do they cost as much as a pair of jeans, when jeans give you more square footage of material for your buck? I think Lululemon is contributing to this price trend, actually.

  3. I ordered the Glycerin shorts for the Eugene Marathon, but they cancelled my order because something was wrong with the logo. It was washing off or something stupid like that. I was hoping that they would just be back ordered, but after a week of trying to contact someone I was told they wouldn't be available until this summer. I was pissed to say the least, but just noticed that they are back on the website. Since I won't really be running or racing anytime soon, I think I will hold off on the purchase. Let me know if you end up getting them.

    I have the Epiphany short in 4 different colors. Yep, if it works for you, you might as well stock up! I think that they are great. 90% of my running clothes are Brooks though.

    1. Alas, I don't see myself getting the Glycerin ones....Too pricey. But the Epiphany's are awesome! I like Brooks so I'm glad they have a range of prices with their shorts.

  4. On the 4th I bought a pair of Pearl Izumi LD Running shorts that cost $60 and I am still asking myself why. I don't get issues with chafing at all with any shorts I've tried (even Target C9 shorts) but the PI shorts are running shorts AND they have 4 pockets. There are two small pockets on the side with velcro closures large enough for two gels each and two large zippered pockets on the back and each is big enough to fit my iPhone 4 in. Most running shorts like Brooks have a pocket on the back but it's only big enough for keys. I wanted shorts that I can put some fuel in for CIM, I guess $60 is what I have to pay.

    1. I agree that the pockets are probably worth spending a little extra -- it's really nice to be able to carry something larger than keys. I just don't understand why pockets have gotten so expensive! I wonder whether it would be cost effective to just sew some into the cheap shorts I already have....