The Incredible Shrinking Running Shorts

For every year that I run, the hem of my shorts seems to rise about a quarter of an inch even though I stopped growing about two decades ago. In fact, you can date my racing pictures by the length—and cut—of my shorts. First it was the knee-length, drawstring mesh shorts, then the oversized Umbros rolled at the waist which paved the way to the more revealing Nike tempos—about as “revealing” as ankle socks.

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Oh, you remember.

Today, I opt for the barely there feel of silky, wicking fabrics—just enough to cover the tan lines. Because even a 4” inseam in 100% humidity can feel like a parachute in a rainstorm. It’s not because I’m trying to show off my goods. It’s because I’m trying not to drown in my shorts.

At this rate, I’ll be running in my underwear by the time I’m 45. At which point I will stop running altogether.

My friend Claudia, a Lululemon Ambassador and fan of the minimalist movement (doesn’t hurt she’s 30 and built like a stick bug), suggested I try the Lululemon Speed Short, which at 2 ½” is a touch shorter than the 3” I’m used to, but since we were sliding into 2016 it only made sense to raise the stakes—and hemline—once again.

I’m a pretty diehard New Balance fan, having just bought three pairs of the Impact Short after I ran a marathon entirely chafe-free, which is like saying you ran a marathon without getting tired. But I can’t turn down anything free. St. Jude’s hand sanitizer. Kroger lip balm. Publix colander (true story). I got ‘em all. So when she offered me a pair of $54 running shorts in return for an honest review, I snatched them up faster than a University of Phoenix koozie.

I slipped into the size 6s and stood before the mirror to evaluate. From the back, they were good. Roomy, and no low-hanging cheek to speak of. But from the front, I noticed some hip clingage, some fabric strain, and let’s just say it’s a good thing I shaved.

Not perfect. But passable? If you have to ask…

“Are these too tight?” I asked my husband, who immediately looked panicked. There is no good answer when we all know the answer in the first place. If he lies, I go out into the world and people say “Bless her heart,” behind my back. If he tells the truth, I go out into the world husbandless.

“They aren’t like the ones you normally wear,” he offered gingerly.

“But are they hideous?” A trick question because if he says “yes” it actually means I look hideous because we know there’s not a damn thing wrong with the cute $54 shorts.

He didn’t take the bait.

“No, but you might as well try the next size up just to see if you like them better. Then you won’t wonder.”

Ahhhh—the discerning consumer approach. Well played, Ray. Well played.

Claudia swiftly made the exchange and when I stepped into the size 8s, little running angels sang. A perfect fit—slightly more room at the hips and I could go a few days before a shave.

Lululemon Speed shorts

Lululemon Speed Shorts

It makes sense that the shorts fit well; they must fit everyone pretty well because I see Lulu-ites everywhere I go. “I like your shorts!” girls at the gym chirped with a knowing wink. They were all wearing the same shorts just in a different color and pattern. It’s like the shorts bought me membership into a club I didn’t know I wasn’t a part of—until I was.

With a wide, low waistband and soft as Charmin (the double-layered kind), they really don’t feel like I’m wearing anything, which is the best kind of short: it feels invisible but is decidedly NOT invisible. I just recommend that you suck it up and size up.

As far as the long-distance chaffing challenge, the shorts threw in the towel (or did they wave a white flag?) at mile 9, but if I’m being honest with you and myself, that probably had more to do with me than the shorts. Bless my hips.

 

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My New Year’s running resolution, in all its simplicity

I’ve been percolating over this New Year’s resolution thing for a couple of days, seeing what might stick 72 hours before I announce a 365-day commitment. My record isn’t so good. Like, I’m 0 and 30 since making my first failed resolution around the tender age of 8 when I announced I would start a stamp collection.

But this year I might be onto something sustainable—and something more meaningful than stamps.

If I were to characterize 2015 in one word, it would be “overwhelming.” I felt like I was running in 10 different directions but never getting past my own front door. I was overwhelmed by my commitments to my work, writing, running, friends, family and myself. Commitments that I kept making.

“Why don’t you stop saying ‘yes’ to things if you’re feeling overwhelmed?” asked my husband.

As if that made any sense.

Truth is, I wanted to say yes to every single opportunity last year posed. I like new challenges and projects. I suffer from the fear of missing out. I live in this paradox where I crave time to just “do nothing,” but as soon as there’s “nothing to do,” I’m bored.

So if that wasn’t going to change, then maybe it was simply my outlook that needed a revision. Instead of grumbling and being anxious about everything I “had to get done,” what if I approached each project/goal/opportunity with joy? The same joy with which I accepted it in the first place?

I began by evaluating my running.

I came out of 2014 hitting PR after PR and with the hopes of qualifying for Boston. I finished every race exhilarated about what I had just accomplished and thought 2015 would be even better. But somewhere along the way I got fixated on racing and getting faster. Consequently, I endured a series of small physical setback and large disappointments. The races I did PR, I finished hyperventilating and heaving, beating myself up because I ran negative splits, walked at the water station, or didn’t place—things I knew were lame for an age-grouper running local tracks to care about, but still…I cared.

I don’t want to stop caring about becoming a better runner any more than I want to stop caring about being a better friend, mother, wife or writer. I don’t want to throw my hands in the air and say “I’m just too old/tired/busy for this.” Because I’m not.

But what if I let go of the useless anxiety that clouds my otherwise optimistic outlook? What if I instead focused on the one thing I could change: Me.

I didn’t think it would work because it goes against everything I’ve come to think I know about being driven. For instance, as a writer, I stress about deadlines, inspirational crashes, and whether or not I’m good enough, thinking that these things ultimately fuel my craft. In fact, they stand in the way of it. But the few times I’ve convinced myself it’ll all work out (and by the way, it does), or walked away from a piece only to have fresh insight the next day (because it always comes), or forget what people think and just write what I love (the best writing I’ve ever done), I’ve been surprised at how joyful the experience can be. The anxiety didn’t make me work harder, it just made me feel like I was working harder.

I wasn’t sure the principle would apply to running until today. After four hours of writing, I felt like running—I needed to run. But instead of looking at the half-marathon training program to tell me how to run, I ran just for the hell of it. I put on my headphones and picked a course that would allow me to log anywhere from 1 – 7.5 miles. I could turn back whenever I felt like it. I would run “comfortably” without worrying about the pace—something I hadn’t done for so long I wasn’t even sure what my comfortable pace was. I feared it would be slower than I could handle, but told myself it didn’t matter; my only goal was to adhere to the Brooks slogan I love so much: run happy.

http://community.runnersworld.com/blog/signed-up-for-my-1st-marathon

If my breathing became labored, I slowed. If I felt energetic, I picked up. I rocked out to the worst Tween beats Pandora has to offer because that’s my jam. At mile 4, I stopped to chomp on some energy chews, and enjoyed the warm sunlight on my face. I never took the shorter route, not because I had to log the miles, but because I wanted to run them.

Every now and then I would peek at my watch, just to see how much damage running happy would do. Funny this is, it didn’t. I was cruising at an 8:30-8:45 pace, much faster than my easy pace I do while training.

I didn’t finish with my body aching and my lungs heaving. I finished exhilarated at what I accomplished and called my husband and texted Lindsay to share in the joy of just another day of running.

This wasn’t new. This was how I used to run. Happy.

I think 2016 is going to be an overwhelmingly good year.

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Running very happy