Thursday, April 27, 2006

Underwear on the Run

I had a huge laugh session with my husband last night about underwear. I mean, seriously, I just don't get the stuff. And now after seeing iliketoast's lovely photo post, I just have to laugh some more. I can't say much for men - I'm not one, and they're built - hmmm - a little differently. To be honest, day to day, I don't really care what kind of underwear I pull outta my drawer, but when I go running, it's a completely different story.

As far as I know, there are several different types of underwear choices out there: there's the all-encompassing grandma style, the briefs, the bikini briefs, no-panty line briefs, french cut, the low-rise, the boy shorts, the thong, boxers, and I suppose commando - which I really learned about from male cyclists and the need to frequently launder bike shorts, and I'll spare you the details. So, which ones are you supposed to wear running? I swear I've tried them all. And none of them work right.

The grandma style - well, when you're a runner and concerned about carrying extra ounces in running shoes, ultrathin socks, lightweight snacks, water that is portable . . . that extra amount of fabric in those undies is truly going to amount to a whole extra tech fabric singlet. Forget it.

Briefs that are french cut, inevitably have to have the extra underwear parts displaced somewhere, so they end up sticking out the back of your shorts, which is not so appealing when you've got a fitted running shirt on that slides up your back when you bend over to stretch. Pretty soon you're very popular at the Saturday morning club run if you know what I mean. Or maybe not so popular.

Regular underwear - briefs I guess would be the technical term - ride up no matter what. You can get a smaller size, but then they just fit tighter. They still ride up, they just hug tighter - after they've ridden half-way up. Not so comfy. Makes it challenging to hit your split timer when you become so obsessed with yanking at your pants so they stay in place. And they chafe. I suppose you could shave frequently . . . that's another subject entirely that I don't feel so comfortable discussing. But I will add, then when my brother, in the process of training for a half-ironman, jokingly said he was gonna shave his whole body so he could be extra fast, I promptly reminded him that he'd get awfully itchy when it grew back.

Boy shorts - well, they have that name for a reason. They were modeled after boys. And as I stated earlier, boys are built differently. If they wanted to make shorts for girls to wear, they should make some designed to fit a girl and call them girl shorts. These things truly just don't fit right. The low-rise, well, they have that name for a reason. They barely cover the back of you, and when you move they slide down . . . they truly weren't designed for runners. You end up feelin' like the plumber you had out at your place last month.

So, the thong. Seems to be the one that is most frequented in joke circles. You'd think, there is no fabric there to ride up, so it'd be the perfect choice for a runner. However, the designers don't seem to be in agreement about how much fabric to leave for the rest of the garment. You often end up with a pair that gleefully doesn't ride up where all that other underwear did, but doesn't have enough fabric to be considered underwear, and finds other places to ride up mid-stride. You can try to alleviate this problem by purchasing a larger size. You then, however, develop a bigger issue. If you can imagine a toddler at the beach, who has been in the water and tries to walk with a seriously waterlogged diaper, you'll know what I mean. You kinda get a hang-too-low syndrome. Troublesome when you're out running on a public sidewalk.

I'll admit, I haven't tried boxers, but then I'd have to go back to the grandma syndrome with way too much fabric. And then back to borrowing commando-style from the cyclists - but most running shorts have a liner, and then your problems start all over again.

It's really a humorous topic. I can go around and around with it, and I still have no solution. It makes me laugh - underwear. Everytime I hear the song 'Pinch Me' I crack up at the underwear part just stuck in the middle of the song. The song has some great lyrics that just make you laugh at life and relax a little. You can follow the link to the words to the song.

I could hide out under thereI just made you say 'underwear' - lyrics from 'Pinch Me' by the Barenaked Ladies (

Happy running!


iliketoast said...

Whilst reading this, I realised you have real passion for the subject. I believe the answer lies in the choice of fabric and the old debate of shorts versus tights.

Ewwwww, just had the visual of the bike riders ... didn't need that!

Anne said...

I haven't given much thought to underwear, at least not as much as you have here. I'm also not nearly as experimental, preferring to wear the same type -- and in nylon or Coolmax, not cotton -- regardless of the length of the run. I hope your brother learned his lesson.