Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Running Shorts Diaries

Those of you who follow me on Facebook may have been privy to a recent status update wherein I lamented my wife’s insistence that, after five months of running perfectly fine in jeans (when it’s cold) or denim shorts (when it’s not), I suddenly need to switch to running shorts. In response to those who asked why I have a problem with it, I submit this entry.

First of all, I don’t need them. Admittedly, I buy lots of stuff that I don’t really need, so this is tenuous at best. The difference, however, is that running shorts are something that I not only don’t need, but I don’t even want. It just seems silly to waste the money. At least they were only six bucks and change.

Second, they’re inconvenient. Most running shorts are intensely difficult to tie tightly enough, so they’re constantly falling down. Now, my Facebook friends may be asking, “Wasn’t that your complaint about the shorts you already had?” Well, yes and no. I did have to cut my Tuesday run short, for that very reason, but it wasn’t really because my pants were too loose (although they were); my pants have been loose for months. The problem was that the particular belt I was wearing was too loose. Thankfully, Anna managed to find a pair that actually ties tightly, which alleviates that problem.

The matter of inconvenience goes beyond my ability to cinch, though. Let’s be perfectly frank: I’m a Latter-day Saint, and as many people know, endowed Latter-day Saints wear a special garment under their clothing. The primary reason for this is a perpetual reminder the covenants we’ve made with our Father in Heaven, but a less significant reason is to help us maintain basic standards of modesty. For this reason, the bottom half of the garment—though available in many sizes, styles, and materials, per personal preference—resembles boxers a lot more than briefs. As such, it’s a rare pair of running shorts that actually covers the garment such that I’m not constantly worried about them hanging out of the bottom.

Now, I know what many other Latter-day Saints will say: why not just take off the garment while I run? Many saints do this, and that’s certainly their decision to make. In fact, I remember a 1995 episode of 60 Minutes where they did a piece on the Church of Jesus Christ, and then–San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young mentioned (in response to a question) that he doesn’t wear the garment while playing or training. And that, I reemphasize, is fine; it’s just not for me. While I certainly reserve the right to change my mind, that will only happen if and when I receive personal revelation to that effect. Until then, it remains a concern.

The third issue I have with running shorts is that they’re uncomfortable. Again, this is a result of some choices that I, personally, have made: when I run in the morning, I always always always lock and bolt the door behind me. I will not leave my oft-sleeping wife and children in an unlocked home while I’m out running around, and thus I need my keys. On the other hand, I want to keep myself safe, too, so I always bring my wallet. It contains both my identification and my insurance card, so if by some chance I have a medical emergency (which isn’t that farfetched; I’ve already wound up in the examining room once), I’ll have what I need to be taken care of.

When I’m wearing jeans (whether short or long), my wallet and keys feel as per usual. They sit in my pockets, and while my knuckles do bump them on rare occasions, there’s just something about the pockets of jeans that make the contents fairly imperceptible. In running shorts, on the other hand, they bump and scrape my legs with every step. It’s not excruciating by any means, and perhaps I’d even get used to it after a while. For the time being, though, I had a good thing going and, for reasons mostly unknown, now I don’t.

Now… I recognize there’s another side of the coin. While all of the men that responded suggested, in one way or another, that I go with whatever is most comfortable, all of the women apparently feel that what’s comfortable is considerably less important than what’s fashionable. I suppose it’s only natural that a gender that goes through such complex beautification rituals would feel that way—not that I’m complaining; those complex beautification rituals have some very nice results, including in the case of my own beloved wife. :-) But let’s be perfectly honest: if I want to not “look funny” (to quote one of my friends who commented), the first step to that is going to be not running at all.

Picture this: a 240-pound man is jogging down the street at an amazing four miles per hour, dripping sweat like he’s been working in the fields all day. On his head he wears a pair of headphones that was lovingly crafted by Taiwanese artisans to look like a large pair of earmuffs. If he’s lucky, he’s wearing a workout shirt; if not, he’s wearing either a T-shirt that says “The Otter” in glitter-glue, or something to do with guinea pigs. About the coolest thing about this guy is the five-year-old iPod shuffle he wears on a lanyard around his neck, and even that—though wonderfully functional—is so outdated as to be ridiculous. Bottom line: I doubt the dork factor is going to be significantly affected by eschewing a pair of denim shorts for a pair of running shorts (possibly with garments peeking out of the bottom).

All this having been said, I’m still considering wearing the running shorts for two reasons: wear and tear, and laundry. I’d prefer to keep my regular shorts in good shape (including cleanness), so I can wear them when I’m not running. Perhaps I can buy a pair of short-people garments, so I don’t have to worry about the bottoms sticking out. I could even empty out my pockets by adding a fanny pack to my ensemble, since my running shorts will apparently make me look so cool that they’ll coolify the fanny pack in the process. Lady Gaga and Paris Hilton will be wearing fanny packs everywhere in no time, and I can tell everyone that it’s all due to my super chachi piruli running shorts.

So yeah. There you go.


  1. Jeff, this post is absolutely hilarious! By far the best thing I've read in weeks, to be certain. I don't know that I have much of a valuable contribution, but mainly want to say: I hear ya!

    I have only a couple thoughts (which you came very close to mentioning yourself, so you've probably already thought of these things) regarding tips that might mitigate the inconvenience of wearing running shorts and wanting/needing to bring along keys and wallet. Becca apprised me of Nathan brand running products, one of which includes a waistband that is far more fashionable than your average fanny pack that can be used to bring along your personal belongings. Similarly, Grantwood Technology, the same company that made my TuneBand for my iPhone makes pouches that can carry keys and wallet that you can strap to your upper arm which cost a mere $10. You might find that to be a practical purchase regardless of what material your shorts are made of. :-)

    Good luck!

  2. Great suggestions, Ed! Thank you! I will definitely look into them! :-)

  3. K... So here goes...
    Here's my solution;)...
    1) Spandex... you can get it in long shorts, or pants & it comes in array of pretty colors & patterns.
    2) Fanny Pack... Holds all of your neccesities, fully adjustable waist, also comes in a variety of pretty colors, & some will hold a bottle of water too;)
    There You Have It!

  4. That sounds great, Patty! Maybe I can even wear the fanny pack *under* the Spandex®, for that coveted put-me-on-the-Discovery-Channel look!

  5. I seriously laughed out loud thru the whole post!! They make microfiber g's now too. Those might be good for staying in place under the shorts.