It's winter, so let's talk running tights.
It was many years before I had to actually purchase any. In middle school, I was uninitiated & ran in cotton sweats on particularly cold days (which, it being Texas, were few & far between). In high school, purple spandex tights were part of the 19 bajillion-piece uniform checked out to us by the team. In college, cold days meant running on the indoor track, and during my first few years out of school I belonged to a gym where I could go jump on a treadmill rather than risk goosebumps.
I think I bought my first pair circa 2006 from Target for about $10 (probably Champion or some such), which served me well for many years. However, as they aged, the not-terribly-subtle seams got more and more matted & frazzled which led to some horrific chafing after much more than five or six miles.
My second pair was also pretty cheap, a basic pair from Aspire that I got from Sports Authority. That was the first time I'd been tights shopping in a while, and I still remember being floored by the prices. Seriously?? I remember thinking. For a couple of square yards of spandex!?!? I could not fathom paying upwards of $20 for something that was just not all that complex to make. The worst part was the myriad sets of tags doing their utmost to justify the absurd prices, extolling the virtues of super-triple-wic-dri-max mesh panels or the extra special Spandex of God woven by a colony of Trappist monks living on a remote mountainside in Nepal.
I'll give you $5 extra for a zipper pocket. But seriously?!?!
I remember staring for a while, rendered powerless by option paralysis, then finally settling on the Aspire ones because they were the most reasonably priced of the bunch with a zipper pocket.
My third set, I got with a Groupon for Lombardi Sports - a pair of Nike Pro Combat compression tights. Worth $40 (the retail price) they were not, but at $25 (the price post-Groupon), they were quite reasonable. (Do not ask me why the male version of these tights have sharp gray lines outlining the package area. Not damn a clue.)
The problem, though, is that I proceeded to fall deeply & irrevocably in love with them. Do you know how much I love you? I would whisper to them post sub-50° F long run as I stroked the soft, silky material and admired the stylish, flattering waist band that sat firmly in place yet did not pinch. Plus they doubled nicely as a base layer for skiing. You are the tights I've been looking for. Where've you been all my life, baby?
I'd rather not talk about the online purchase of a pair of slate-gray New Balance tights last year. There is a reason we wear black tights for running and that reason should never, ever be questioned.
What with skiing, yoga, Pilates, & the recent cold snap (you know, 40s), I've found myself running short on tights lately & decided it was time for another pair. Of course, there was no question; another set of Nike Pro Combats it was. Yes, $40 is a bit steep, but I really just can't describe the level of perfection we're talking about, here, & I can usually dig up some kind of discount on something I really want.
Except, horror of horrors, they don't make them anymore.
I trust you've all experienced that sickening, gut-wrenching feeling at some point or another.
Tears were shed. Teeth were gnashed. Garments were rent. Yes, they have this new thing called the Nike Pro Core II compression tight, but who can say how close it really is to my beloved Pro Combats?
Which led me down all kinds of mental rabbit holes about my favorite gear and what may or may not be discontinued at any moment.
Quick! the rabbit holes insisted, To the Internet! What do you like? Google it, now! THERE'S NOT A SECOND TO LOSE!!!
Which is how I ended up at Moving Comfort, the makers of one of the only two sports bras I trust for actual, serious long-distance running. Is there an "Alexis" in a pattern I find compelling & don't already own? Done. (For a review, I refer you to this post.)
But then I couldn't bear to pay for shipping. And my qi was weak from the Pro Combat tights blow. So, in a fit of deprivation-fueled panic, I ended up adding these to my cart:
So weak that I broke two of my cardinal rules: 1) $30 max for tights & 2) no online purchasing of unknown quantities except in cases of CRAAAAAZY deals. Then I wept in shame. At least the bra was on sale.
But then they came in the mail, and I had them, so I figured I might as well figure out whether they were good for anything. And, thankfully, I'm happy to report that, yes, they do in fact function reasonably well as running tights. A few notes:
- They are not as stretchy as tights made mainly from spandex. Not a big deal, but probably worth mentioning.
- The material is kind of thick & heavy; if I had been looking at them in a store (sigh), I probably would have ruled them out based on that because I usually like them on the lighter side. However, this may mean that they're a little warmer than my other pairs, which could be a plus in truly cold weather...
- ...Except that they really are more "capris" than "tights," and I sort of hate that. Pre-run, when I first put them on, they come down to maybe just shy of mid-calf, which is exactly where I like them. However, ten strides in they bunch up to right below my knee, which kind of makes them look like longish compression shorts. This isn't exactly uncomfortable; it just feels weird & makes them look kind of weird. And also rules out their serving as a super-cold-weather pair (unless I wear them with ski socks) since they leave basically my entire lower leg exposed. (I might have figured this out if I had bothered looking at the other pictures on the page.)
Hmmm, this or totally fine, not-amazing pair of tights? Let me pretend to think about it for like FIVE SECONDS.
Of course, you might feel differently. You might LUUUURRVE this particular length & really dig the sturdier fabric and/or feel like a really lovely pair of tights are *totally* equivalent in value to an extremely unshabby dinner somewhere in this fine city. As for me, I'd rather have the pre fixe at Fleur de Lys.
Sigh. When will I learn this lesson? When, I ask you?
If you need me, I'll be at Sports Authority trying out the Nike Pro Core II's. :P