Stories from Active Clothing

I’ve been running for 15 years, and these are the only shorts I’ll wear

Ali Finney

Ali FinneyMay 5, 2020

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Photo: Stocksy / Alina Hvostikova

Many runners will tell you about the fateful day that they found their most-favorite pair of running shoes. And while finding a good pair of kicks is unquestionably the key to a long-distance uniform, I’d say that running shorts are a close second because chafing is a very real, very terrible thing, and because I grew up in Texas, so I can’t be bothered with too hot, too tight running leggings.

There are many factors that set a good pair of running shorts apart from the rest. First and foremost, they need to sit on your hips and not ride up (dear God, running wedgies are a thing!) or down (you will straight up moon people!). Both of these have happened to me. Secondly, if the pair of shorts has underwear sewn into it, said pair of underwear should lay nicely on the skin and not dig in. I also insist on some kind of a split or seaming can be helpful because otherwise the shorts will wind up being too stiff or immobile. As for color, running shorts should be black or some other dark shade that doesn’t show sweat; traversing upwards of six miles at any pace results in butt sweat—like, buckets and buckets of butt sweat.

The other main thing thing to consider when making a running shorts purchase is the length. Most running shorts are either three inches or five inches long, and honestly, I’ll run in either. My main advice is to size up on three-inch shorts so that you can pull them down slightly without worrying about them moving up or down your bod. And with that, allow me to sing the praises of the absolute best pairs of running shorts for women that I have ever owned. If I’m running, you’d better believe it’s in a pair of these.

Nike Tempo Runway Shorts, $26

I’ve worn Nike Tempo shorts for more than a decade, and I love them for many, many reasons. The waistband sits securely on your body, but it’s still super soft, so you don’t finish your run with impressions of fabric that has dug into your skin. They taper nicely on the sides of the legs, allowing the shorts to kind of move with your body and preventing them from ever feeling stuck in place. Each pair comes with a sewn-in liner, so you can choose whether or not to wear undies underneath (but why bother?), and there’s a tiny pocket that fits your essential items like your credit cards and AirPods case. If you need more serious storage, pair these running shorts with the Nike Pocket Bra for a gym locker’s worth of space on your person.

New Balance Accelerate Five-Inch Short, $30


New Balance is known for making great running staples, but none get as much use as this pair. The waistband is wide and sits ever-so-slightly higher than the Nike Tempos, which is honestly kind of nice in the summer. I pair these with a crop top and head out the door, whereas with others I might feel like I needed to throw a singlet on top. The side seaming on these also slightly tapers, making motion easy, and best of all: this pair has pockets that really can handle all of your must-haves without the extra weight sending your shorts all the way to your toes. I’ve stashed keys, credit cards, my phone, and running gels (and the list goes on and on!) in these and they really don’t budge—10/10 would recommend.

Girlfriend Collective Gazelle Shorts, $55

One thing that I hope running will tackle in the near future is sustainability. Races litter the streets with mountains of paper cups, Sunday morning runs in the park leave a trail of energy gels around the loops, and it’s well documented that shoe manufacturing isn’t exactly eco-friendly. Obviously, while buying a pair of sustainably-made shorts doesn’t offset those things, I do think it’s a step in the right direction. This pair is made from 29 water bottles, has a reduced carbon footprint, and they feel really nice when you wear them. With pockets that zip, built-in undies, and a comfy silhouette that kind of parachute as you put one foot in front of the other, you’ll catch me in these on the reg.

If the glorious sunshine outside doesn’t have you inspired to log some miles, try this treadmill workout:

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