Running is a controversial sport, but sometimes I find debate in the most unlikely of places. Like in my shorts.
I stumbled across on interesting discussion over on the RW Daily Blog about underwear. More specifically, the author posed the question “what are the best underwear … for running?”. The blogger advocates that “the best underwear is no underwear” (emphasis his), but he seems to run in a world in which all shorts come with built-in liners. This is not a world in which I live. Or run. I run in shorts sold in running stores and clearly identified as “running” (not multi-purpose, multi-sport) shorts and yet those shorts are just shorts - no bonus liner hidden beneath. For those of us without a built-in answer, what do we do for comfort, support, and modesty?
In scanning the respondents to the RW query I (not scientifically) extracted a few patterns: (i) men, overall, seem to prefer flying free - assuming the shorts have a liner, (ii) men seeking extra suppport, including a self-proclaimed well-endowed man, preferred their own briefs over the liner, in some cases even cutting out an unsuitable liner entirely, (iii) women’s preferences were a bit more hodgepodge, but a majority seemed to opt for their own underlayer, and (iv) the type of short is a critical variable for both men and women - with classic linered running shorts many skip an additional layer, with loose linerless running shorts most opt to add in their own undies, and most seemed to think compression shorts were supportive enough on their own. Support and chafing were two words repeated with great frequency. There was, not surprisingly, consensus though that chafing Down There is something to avoid at all costs, although there was no consistency as to which option offered sufferers the most relief. Among underwear wearers the cotton is rotten mantra also echoed. I whole heartedly agree. Someone used the term “runderwear”, which made me giggle like a ten year old and therefore is worth repeating.
I get the sense that few people go completely commando, as in no liner, no compression shorts, and no underwear … so I think claiming “no underwear” is misleading. When I hear “no underwear” I think of the Friends episode (season 3, episode 13) in which Phoebe dates a sporty guy who truly goes without. Or he did until Gunther says “Hey buddy, this is a family place. Put the mouse back in the house”. In the bare butt vs liner vs compression short vs underwear vs thong (yes, I’ve neglected an entire genre of underthings and glossed over the full-bottomed vs. thong underwear debate) is there a clear winner? You tell me. And think about this post next time you meet up with your running group.
p.s. Thinking I was overusing the word underwear and inexplicably offput by panties I went to thesaurus.com for some more options. This was the output: BVDs, G-string, bikini, boxer shorts, boxers, bra, briefs, corset, drawers, intimate things, jockey shorts, jockeys, lingerie, loincloth, long johns, panties, shorts, skivvies, smallclothes, underclothes, underclothing, undergarment, underpants, undershirt, underthings, undies. I learned something new today – that some people refer to their underwear as “smallclothes”. I assume these people are very modest.
Title Reference: Shakira – Underneath Your Clothes. From the album Laundry Service. 2002.