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Month: June 2019

June 26, 2019

Half-Tights vs. Short-Shorts: A Definitive Guide

It’s a debate as old as the sport itself: What to wear, and when. In particular, [male] [distance] runners have, since the dawn of time, spent long runs and locker room time debating the relative merits of short-shorts and half-tights. Do you want to show off your newly-inked team hip tattoo as your gangly, pale legs fly through intervals? Or do you want to showcase your best assets with form-fitting spandex that sends Bible-belt parents complaining to their athletic directors? The choice is yours.

You could argue that what you wear doesn’t matter nearly as much as the effort you put in, but that’s not nearly as fun as digging your heels unnecessarily deeply into an extreme position and arguing passionately against anyone who might disagree with you. The more arbitrary and inflexible the rule, the better.

As host of the Run Your Mouth podcast, I occasionally ask our guests what their half-tights versus short-shorts (or bun huggers, or short tights for our female guests) preferences and policies are, which has helped inform the guidelines below. As a disclaimer, this particular piece is largely focused on the apparel sported by male runners – for many reasons, I would not presume to tell women what to wear and when but I’d eagerly anticipate a follow-up post if anyone would like to make one

At the end of the day, rules were meant to be broken. If you’re good enough, you can pretty much get away with wearing whatever you want, which has resulted in a resurgence of sprinters in short-shorts and the rise of the distance-runner speed suit.

Races: The general rule when it comes to racing on a track is as follows: if you’re trying to feel speedy, wear half-tights. If you’re trying to feel smooth, wear short-shorts. The roads are more complicated and weather dependent, and despite the historical popularity of shorts, the trend in the marathon lately has moved toward half-tights over 26.2. If it’s good enough for the GOAT, it’s good enough for you.

  • By distance: 
    • >3000m: short-shorts.
    • <3000m: half-tights.
    • 3000m: half-tights if steepling.
    • >10 miles: half-tights if chafe-prone.
  • By temperature:
    • >50 degrees: short-shorts
    • <50 degrees: half-tights

Workouts: If you care about your hamstring health, always err on the side of extra warmth. Take notes from the sprinters, distance crew: Long tights for warmups in almost any conditions. If it’s warm enough to take your shirt off, shorts are allowable, but if it’s a “speed day” I still recommend half-tights for the confidence booster.

  • By temperature:
    • >60 degrees: short-shorts
    • <60 degrees: half-tights
  • By color: 
    • You can wear either a racing singlet or racing bottoms in a workout, but never wear a full matched uniform in a workout. You’ll look like a nerd.

Easy runs:

This one is simple. There is one rule for easy run apparel (assuming it’s warm enough that long tights aren’t necessary):

  • Wear whatever is clean and available.

Additional words of wisdom:

    • When to tuck your shirt: In shorts? Dealer’s choice. In half-tights? Only if you’re Sam Parsons.
    • Short-shorts over half-tights: Never. Leave that particular fashion choice in middle school where it belongs.
    • Shorts length: I disagree with my colleagues on this one. Running shorts should be split and max out at 2-inch seams. Anything longer belongs on the basketball court.
    • Runderwear: You may have noticed that people run with sports underwear under their shorts, even if said shorts have a built-in liner that serves the same purpose. This may seem foreign to you, but that’s because it is: For reasons passing understanding, runderwear is almost entirely an international phenomenon, one Americans rarely employ. I don’t know why this is a universal rule, but it is.

These rules are ultimately subjective, but please don’t let that stop you from angrily disagreeing with me on Twitter. And feel free to send along your own set of sartorial guidelines – the more silly and irrational, the better. Happy summer!

June 25, 2019

Trying to Find the ‘Why’ in 100 Miles

Stephen Kersh will be lining up at Western States for his first 100-mile race. Why? He’s still figuring out the answer.

June 18, 2019

A Pride Month Ode to Nikki Hiltz and Therese Haiss

The sport needs more athletes like Nikki Hiltz and Therese Haiss.

June 12, 2019

What Brave Like Gabe Means to Me

Gabe Grunewald proved that in the face of adversity you have a choice to be optimistic and make the most of your time.

June 12, 2019

A Tribute to Gabe Grunewald

We often get caught up in the times and the places and forget what really matters in this life. Gabe never forgot. I’ll never forget because of her.

June 12, 2019

Remembering Gabriele Grunewald

“Why do I go to the track every day? Why do I not give up? It’s because I’m hopeful that the new technology in treating cancer and personalizing medicine will work. It’s no secret that my disease and I need a breakthrough. I’ve got to stay alive long enough to see them and maybe it works for me. Maybe one of these clinical trials will work for me. It’s a scary place to be but I don’t think I could live my life if I didn’t have hope someone could figure something out.“ Gabriele Anderson Grunewald to me in 2017

Gabe never lost hope. To me, she was the greatest display of courage, determination and human spirit when someone could be handed the worst of circumstances. I’m among the thousands of people that she’s positively impacted in her incredible 32 years of life. I met her for the first time in Lignano, Italy in the Summer of 2013. I remember sitting down in a hotel lobby for hours with her and Andy Bayer because there was no air conditioning in the rooms and that was the only spot with wifi. A bunch of the athletes gathered there. Gabe was so excited about her upcoming wedding to Justin Grunewald and just brightened the room while we all made the most of a less than ideal situation. There were so many mosquitos. That positivity was just how she was all the time. At the time, she had already battled cancer twice but I had no idea.

She was first diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma (a rare form of cancer in her salivary gland) as a 22-year-old while competing for the University of Minnesota in 2009. She underwent surgery to remove it but cancer returned in her thyroid in 2010. She underwent a thyroidectomy and radioactive iodine treatment before making a full recovery and return to racing in 2011. Then she finished fourth at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 1,500 meters (just one spot shy of making the national team for the Summer Games and the most heartbreaking places to finish).

I was fortunate to be in Monaco with Flotrack when she ran 4:01.48 and was beaming with excitement but she was still looking forward to getting better and faster in her next race. Even in 2017, when cancer returned for the fourth time, we met up in New York and she shared her plan to keep running. No friend has ever been braver through it all.


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She’s crossed one more finish line and is now in heaven. We can all aspire to be #bravelikegabe. Let’s also celebrate every run, every personal best and every victory because she was never one to take life and running for granted.

Please consider making a donation to the Brave Like Gabe Foundation, where proceeds go toward rare cancer research centers including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

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