Jesse Weber
Jesse Weber wearing jean shorts while running the Antelope Canyon 50-Mile race. Photo: Screenshot via Jesse Weber.

Running attire is a long debated topic. There’s the old visor-vs.-cap debate, the running-skirt-vs.-shorts debate, and then there’s the shirts-on-vs.-shirts-off camp. 

RELATED: Visor versus hat: a comparative study

Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah inadvertently weighed in on the issue last week, sporting a pair of half-tights under loose shorts–a combination not seen very often in elite running. Farah is a very influential figure in the running community, for example, his Oregon Track Running Compression 1/2 Tights are currently sold-out on eBay. 

In light of Farah’s bold statement, we’ve decided to do an updated version of: which running bottoms are the best running bottoms? 

Split Shorts. Once a short reserved for the very elite on race day, or the very bold on an average run day, the split short has recently made an appearance in the lineups of multiple companies that aren’t running-specific. Lululemon, for example, did something very close to a split short in their summer men’s run collection. If you loved the split short days of high school cross-country, but sadly aren’t in high school anymore, these shorts could be perfect for you. 

“Splitties” are all about minimalism, and are rarely acceptable anywhere that running isn’t the main objective. If you have to stop in at the grocery store on your way home, prepare to get stared at.

The mid-length short. Probably the most common shorts choice for both men and women. These shorts have an inseam of roughly four to five inches, long enough to keep you covered, but not too long to have arguably excess fabric. In these shorts you’ll certainly be recognized as a runner, but won’t run the risk of indecency (which can be a risk in certain split shorts). 

Above-the-knee shorts. These shorts are the most palatable of the running short options. The above the knee short has an inseam of around seven inches, and usually includes pockets for keys, cards and phones. These shorts have the added bonus of being more socially accepted by non-runners. So if you stop somewhere mid- or post-run, there shouldn’t be much judgment about your attire. (Smell, on the other hand, is a different story.) 

Spandex and short shorts. This one’s for you, Mo. The spandex and short shorts combo is a rare combination because of the excessive layers, especially in the summer, but we see the merit from a modesty standpoint. If you tend to run a little hot, this may not be the choice for you. One thing to remember: if this look is calling your name, make sure you purchase liner-less short shorts. 

Honourable mention, the running skirt. Ladies are lucky in the running bottoms regard, since there is a plethora of options. You’ve got briefs, spandex shorts, short shorts, split shorts, long shorts, long spandex shorts–the list goes on. The one standout in women’s running apparel seems to be the running skirt, essentially the spandex and shorts of women’s running. If you’re a lover of skirts, dresses and exercise, then the running skirt just might be the pick for you. The running skirt traditionally comes with a spandex short liner, and the skirt falls over top. 

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