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.


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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