You show up on race day, ready to run. You’ve logged hours of training, gotten yourself out of bed at 5:30 to get your long runs in before work, you’ve said no to donuts even as they have called out to you from the conference room and instead nibbled dejectedly on your small bag of almonds and apple slices. You’ve gotten to the track twice, maybe three times a week to run sprints to tear down your times. You watch your splits go negative, your body fat percentage shrink, your lungs expand and your endurance grow. While everyone else was out drinking you were hitting trails or pounding pavement. While everyone else was pounding Guinness you were adding Chia seeds and flaxseed to your protein shake.
You ran in the rain, in the wind, up any hill you could find and then you did it again just because you could. You’ve worn out two pairs of shoes in five months, lost a toenail or two, climbed into your bed at 8 PM the night before to be here on fresh legs and well rested. You’re ready. And then you see it. No amount of training can prepare you for this moment. The crowd parts in front of you and it’s in full view… shorty shorts.
As I write, I can feel the puke rising slowly in my throat. I’m a fairly seasoned runner and I’ve been around my fair share of events across the board. I realize, before all the elites and Speedy McSpeedies out there freak out and start throwing things like goo packets and Gatorade bottles, that shorter shorts can have an impact on “performance” “speed” and “comfort.” Blah, blah, blah I know the reasons… and if one more person references Prefontaine I will throw the goo and Gatorade back. Don’t compare. You can’t. I’ve had my guy running friends try breaking it down for me before, and I listen politely but my answer is always the same, “No reason you give will be good enough for me having to see your butt cheek… or more.” But this is a game of inches my friends… and I am asking you to evaluate whether or not you could add one, two, or four.
There is a key demographic of runners that wear the shorties. I call them the “Shorty Rockers”. They are usually fast (an even smaller niche demographic is shaved legs and shorties, that means these guys are HARD CORE so please try to avoid clock blocking other runners while understandably distracted by these dudes). To their credit, most shorty rockers aren’t about showing it off, they are focused on performance and by all means, that’s what I’m about too. Gear is an important part of the performance equation and you deserve to be comfortable. But so do my eyes. In addition to length there is snugness… The shorties AND tighties being the worst possible combination of factors. Honestly, just run in speedo at that point.
Now that I’ve effectively beaten, shamed, and angered about 25% of the male running population I will offer a ray of hope and an olive branch. I realize that men are handicapped with both fashion and shopping prowess, so here’s a few tips:
- I’m not saying that you need to wear Butler basketball shorts (that didn’t work out so well for Butler) but there is a possibility that a new pair of shorts (‘Cause maybe you’ve gained a few pounds since you bought the shorts in ‘99 or the shorts you wore in middle school have had their day in the sun) might be in order.
- Simple test… when you do a lunge, whatever skin feels the breeze is skin we can see while you’re running. Maybe you don’t care, but, well, everyone else on the planet does.
- An inch, as you guys know (wink wink) goes a long way. When in doubt, add an inch. If an inch is the difference between you winning or losing a race, then either it wasn’t your day or you just aren’t training hard enough. There, I’ve said it.
- A little skin is okay, leave something to the imagination so that when the ladies get to mile 16 and need a distraction it’s one that may get us to mile 17 without wanting to throw up blood as we run behind you.
I’ll take it a step further and give you a visual and real life example: My super-fast running friend, who will remain nameless to keep him from public scorn (Dylan Wilson) is a proud and serial “Shorty Rocker”. Sometimes, he gets the length formula perfect. Sometimes, well, not so much.
My aversion to male endurance runners wearing shorty shorts began a long time ago and is well-documented since December 2010.
1. December 19, 2010: My First Public Statement in opposition to the shorty shorts.
2. January 5, 2011: Live statement during after the Groundhog Jog in Kansas City where shorty shorts were in full effect. FULL effect.
3. February 2, 2011: Another statement on the Average Guy Fitness Podcast where I was a guest I believe my exact words were “Lock it up.” I stand by that statement.
4. February 4, 2011: Average Guy podcast statement and then we also first talked about Jason Jaksetic aka Spartan’s own Barn Beast. I wonder if he wears shorty shorts?
5. March 5, 2011: Clock Blocking Blog Post on Spartan and on Clock Blocking.com.
6. March 27, 2011: Live statement in a podcast after the State Farm 10 miler long run in Lincoln, NE. “Add an inch or two to your shorts. Those shorts are way too short.” Yes, I said it. Someone had to.
Which brings us to today. I have always believed that when you know better, you do better. I say this with kindness to my beloved ‘Shorty Rockers’, now you know. Lock up your business. To every other runner out there… you’re welcome.