Running-specific apparel has never been more advanced or accessible than it is these days, and while many people feel like they can get away with wearing any old t-shirt on a long run, getting a good pair of running shorts can be one of the most game-changing investments you can make as a budding runner. In fact, getting a pair of purpose-built running shorts is the perfect illustration of why running gear is a step up from normal gym clothes. Here's why, and what you should look for if you're looking for your first pair.
1. The fit
Running apparel has a reputation for being more form fitting and unforgiving than other types of workout clothes, but there's a method behind the quad-hugging cuts and shortened inseams. Running shorts are generally shorter because it gives your skin more of a chance to breathe, and cut closer to wick moisture away from the areas that count, particularly your upper thighs and crotch. They're generally a bit tighter as well because it stops whatever's in your pockets from bouncing up and down annoyingly during your run. Besides: the 5" inseam is trendy right now anyway. Just own it.
2. The right support
If you've ever cut a pair of mesh inner underwear out of a pair of shorts, you'll know what we're talking about here. But for runners, these little features will go a long way to keeping you comfortable on long runs. A lot of running shorts either have some kind of mesh briefs or compression shorts built into them these days, and they're there for a reason: to keep your nether regions dry, cool, and most importantly, chafe free. You can actually run in them sans-boxers if you want to – that's exactly what they're designed for. Of course, you can get unlined running shorts if you want to, but we'd recommend investing in some running tights or performance underwear to keep your most sensitive areas cool and comfy.
3. Features, features, features
Another thing you're going to want to look out for is the kind of features that you very quickly begin to miss when you're forced to go for a run in a pair of bog standard gym shorts, or god forbid, a pair of swim shorts. The best running shorts are made from the lightest, thinnest materials possible. Strategically-placed pockets will provide storage for your phone and keys that keeps them secure and from bouncing up and down, while reflective elements also help keep people alert of your presence if you're running at night.
Our pick: Top 10 Running shorts
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