What Shorts to Race In?

For a long, long time I ran in soccer shorts. Because I played soccer and soccer shorts were comfortable and running shorts were weird. Running shorts had that gross liner inside them that looked like an adult diaper. But, sometime in college someone explained to me that everyone cuts the liner out of running shorts. So, when my soccer shorts finally lost so much elasticity they wouldn’t stay up anymore, I bought a standard pair of Nike running shorts and cut the liner out.

Nike running shorts, the gateway drug of running clothes.
Nike running shorts, the gateway drug of running clothes.

The Nike Tempo short is easily their most popular running short. Possibly the most popular pair of running shorts period. Everyone owns like five pairs (I have them in blue, yellow, and custom-Oregon green/yellow) and yet everyone I know cuts the lining out, which causes you to have this weird band of lining around the edge when you roll the top over — because everyone rolls the top over, duh. And, which sort of suggests that perhaps Nike ought to make a version without the lining.

See, weird cut off lining sticking out of the top of the shorts. (Ignore the laundry behind me.)
See, weird cut off lining sticking out of the top of the shorts. (Ignore the laundry behind me.)

But, for the most part, I love these shorts. And, most importantly, I look a lot faster than when I wore boys’ soccer shorts. And, as we all know, looking fast is just as important as going fast. So, for a few years, they were my race shorts.

Race shorts are different than running shorts. Obviously. I have lots of regular shorts. But, you need special shorts for races. And, no, I don’t race in tiny spandex. I mean I have – I did a few weeks ago – but I don’t enjoy it.

Then, like four years ago, I was given a pair of Lululemon shorts and a tanktop after doing a wear test for them, which I never would have bought on my own because the shorts were like $54 and that seemed crazy at the time (oh, how the times have changed). But, I adored the Lululemon Speed Short, which I did not cut the lining out of because it was all soft and comfy. They became my race shorts, until they started to lose elasticity and get all worn down and rub. So, last year, as my pre-race Oakland Marathon purchase, I bought new Lululemon shorts.

I have the all black now. Like a panther.
I have the all black now. Like a panther.

They were fine. I wore them for that race and a few other races and had no problems. But, I didn’t love them like I loved the old Lululemon ones. And, then, they started to chafe — and as we all know, chafing is like the kryptonite of running. A couple runs, I got crazy cuts on the inside of my legs from them. I went back to the old Lululemon shorts and they chafed too. (Yes, easy joke about thighs rubbing together, but I’m not going to do the easy thing and make it, so there.) I decided it was a sign that I shouldn’t be wearing them anyway, because Lululemon is crazy and expensive and possibly evil and, really, all I ask for in a company is that it not be all three.

That meant I needed new race shorts for Chicago, so I went with some boring Brooks ones. (I think it was these ones.) I also, bizarrely, kept the lining in these ones even though it was that weird granny diaper lining. And, they’re ok, but they were 1. not flattering and 2. had no real pockets except on the sides, so then you’re cramming gels in the sides of your shorts, which is also not flattering and makes you paranoid they’re going to fall out the whole race and 3. sort of bunched weird and sometimes chafed.

Not even sure what I'm trying to hard to do here.
See, is that flattering? No, obviously because of the shorts.

So, I’ve been on the lookout for new race shorts for a little while. Something like the Lulu ones, but not them. And, then, when I was at Sports Basement, using my gift certificate I won at the Hellyer 10K — no matter what race you do anywhere in the Bay Area you will probably win a Sports Basement gift certificate (amazing) — I found out Nike has just released some new shorts like the Lulu ones, but not them.

*voices singing, lights coming down from above*

And, after a whole thing — I bought the mediums because they didn’t have the small in the color I wanted, but then medium was too big, so then I went back but they didn’t have small in any color and XS was too small, so then I got my money back and went to the Sports Authority Elite but they didn’t have them at all, so I went on Nike’s website but that website is ridiculously bad and it was possible either they didn’t have my size or that they just were directing me in circles, so then I finally went on some super sketchy RunningWarehouse.com site — I now have in my possession new shorts. That I’m really hoping are my new racing shorts. Testing them out today.

Behold, the Nike Rival Shorts. I have a good feeling about these.

Race shorts. Make you go faster.
Race shorts. Make you go faster.

What are your race shorts?

The Shoes I Run In

My high school kids make fun of me for having a lot of running shoes. One of them was even laughing one time, ‘like what do you do just wear different shoes for different things?’ Yeah, pretty much.

I actually don’t have as many shoes as plenty of people and I don’t have lots of fancy scientific opinions, but here is more or less what I run in. I just got the Saucony Virrata, which feels to me very much like the Saucony Kinvara 3 (the last model – I haven’t tried the new model of the Kinvara) except instead of a 4 mm heel-to-toe drop, it’s a zero drop shoe. Very trendy.

The Saucony Virrata.
The Saucony Virrata.

I’m not 100% sure how I feel about the zero drop-ness yet. It definitely makes your lower leg work harder and can make my calves feel a little sore, so I think I need to be careful transitioning to them as my main shoe. But, I ran in the Kinvaras before, so a 4mm difference isn’t huge. (I mean I know it’s HUGE like in the scheme of running shoes, but still.) I’ve felt some aching in my calves when I’m pounding hard on the road or on cement, but that’s been happening a lot to me lately in all my shoes, so it might be me not the Virratas.

I was telling Steve that I don’t love the Saucony shoes. (I had intended to get the new Kinvaras not the Virratas, but they aren’t out yet.) They don’t fit me great and they aren’t amazing. But, they’re fine. I keep coming back to them because I know they’re ok and won’t fuck me up and will get the job done. He said I could be talking about a relationship.

The last shoes I really loved were the Adidas Adizero a few years ago, but they changed them all up. Sigh.

I also just got new marathon and half-marathon race shoes, which I’ve been using for some track and tempo work too: the Nike Lunaracer+ 3.

The Nike Lunaracer+ 3.
The Nike Lunaracer+ 3.

These I do sort of love. They’re so light and fun and make me feel like a gazelle. I did Kaiser in them and they worked great. My two concerns are that I think I’m twisting my feet weirdly (I only think this because the tongue on each shoe is constantly getting pulled all the way to the side by whatever I’m doing) and the soles of my feet sort of started to burn around mile 9 or 10 during Kaiser. But, I’m not sure if that’s just because they were new or what.

The reason I have two new pairs of shoes, when I usually have one new pair and one older pair and rotate, is because I had bought these weird new shoes: The On Cloudracer.

The Cloud Racer.
The On Cloud Racer.

But, I’m now mildly paranoid they caused my brief ankle/foot problems. They have these little “clouds” on the bottom that are really just pods not clouds, which I had no problem with. On the whole, they were supposed to be similar to the lightweight, low-profile, relatively neutral shoes I usually wear. They were ok, felt fast definitely, but also felt big and always seemed like they were sort of stressing the arch of my foot and like there was a bump in the middle of my sole. After I’d run in these, other shoes would hurt my arch.

I’m not sure they caused any of my problems. But, I’m not sure they didn’t either. My arch cramped up, then I started walking and running weird, and then I stressed out the inside of my ankle. Which means, right now, I am shunning them.

Has anyone else tried the Ons?

The Mizuno Wave Precision.
The Mizuno Wave Precision.

Of course, I also have other shoes I rotate into the line-up, like my Mizuno Wave Precision 12, which I only bought because Justin and Steve and Brian made me go with them to REI and I thought these shoes seemed fun and comfortable. I was rotating them with my Ons. Now, that I feel like my foot is better, I’ll probably go back to rotating them with my Virratas, so some days one and some days the other. I used to only wear Mizunos.

I know some people have one shoe and they stick with it, but I’ve found that I have fewer injury problems and fewer problems in general when I have multiple shoes and rotate. It just gives my foot something different to deal with. Of course, the problem right now is that I’m doing more mileage than I used to, so I seem to be going through shoes faster and am accumulating them at a stupid rate in piles by our front door.

Oh Nike Free. What girl doesn't have you.
Oh Nike Free. What girl doesn’t have you.

And, of course, I have a pair of Nike Frees. I think that’s like a requirement of being a female athlete, right.

I just use the Frees, of which I have an older version because I’m not nuts about the newest model, for gym work and short easy runs. I’ve done a couple short races in them and ran in them all the time when I got my first pair in 2010. But, they definitely put a lot of stress on your calves and can be a little wobbly at times. So, that was not my most brilliant idea.

Now, I just wear them so people can say, oh my god, those are so cute.

Which, is pretty the only reason I have this last pair of shoes (well, that and somebody had a 50% discount code, so why not): my K-Swiss K-Ona American flag shoes. These are hella old, from a few rotations ago, really not good for much anymore, but sometimes I can’t resist wearing them.

What.
What.