So, you’re getting into running — fantastic! You’ve bought all the gear, you’ve warmed up, you’re ready to hit up your first route, when all of a sudden, you’re struck by a query…Am I supposed to be wearing underwear under my shorts?
It seems like a silly question at first, but it’s actually really important in a few different ways. Here’s why.
Underwear Beneath Running Shorts — Yay or Nay?
Your initial thoughts on this topic are probably to play it safe. It’s best to be caught out and about with, rather than without, underwear, no matter the situation, right? Would there be anything more embarrassing than, erm…falling out mid-run? Probably not.
You’re just trying to get some exercise, stay healthy, perhaps get away from the hustle and bustle for a few minutes and reconnect with nature, then boom! You’ve connected a little too hard with nature. Now there’s a squirrel blushing in the tree ahead, and a passing dog walker’s calling the police.
However, you may be surprised to hear that, for the most part, you are indeed meant to go commando when you don the short shorts. I know, I know; it seems risky; it’s just the way things are done, but before you strip off and head on out, there are a few things you should know first.
You’re only supposed to go without underwear if the running shorts in question offer sufficient material to keep you contained down there. It’s sort of a swimming shorts situation. There should be some sort of lining to prevent a prison break, so to speak.
Take these Surenow running shorts, for instance. They arrive with a compression layer to keep everything in order below deck.
On the other hand, if there isn’t anything in place to keep your member from Shawshanking its way out the side of your shorts, then you absolutely should throw on an underlayer, but traditional underwear perhaps isn’t the best option. Investing in a dedicated compression layer like this pair of Under Armour shorts will be far more comfortable.
Why Shouldn’t You Wear Underwear with Running Shorts?
Okay, so now you know the basic underwear beneath running shorts etiquette, let’s take a look at why people prefer to go sans unmentionables when they’re trying to burn a few calories.
Running is a sweaty activity, no two ways about it. When we sweat, it’s collected into the fabric of our clothing, which then rubs against our skin, causing discomfort and rashes. Now, I don’t know about you, but I can think of a million places I’d rather have a rash than my nether regions.
The breathability of the lining in running shorts affords the old “naughty bits” some fresh air, keeping everything dry and comfortable.
To Avoid Chaff
Wearing normal underwear beneath unlined running shorts can feel sore enough as it is, but wearing regular briefs beneath a lined pair of shorts is even worse. Firstly, the more layers you’re wearing, the warmer and sweatier you’re going to get, increasing the rash risk.
Secondly, as your underwear is compacted and pushed against your skin, the dreaded chafing occurs instantaneously, leaving you to finish the bulk of your route in ever-worsening pain.
Not Enough Support or Privacy
Standard underwear tends to be a little baggy, which means as soon as you take that deep lunge on your warm-up, the nuns on that bus headed for the beach are going to get an eyeful of your holy poker.
The lining of running shorts does a much better job of keeping your privates, well…private, as does a dedicated compression layer.
I actually do have a pair of boxers with pockets, but they’re something of a rarity. Most men’s underwear doesn’t have anything in the way of storage, which can be a real issue for a runner.
Sure, a lot of running shorts do have pockets in their outer layer, but have you seen the size of the new iPhone? It would be jiggling around all over the place, slowing you down, and it may even fall out and smash on the floor — not cool!
The lining of running shorts is a much safer part of the garment to incorporate pockets. It holds your things against your leg, so it can’t sway freely as you move. It means you no longer have to leave your emergency items at home, making your run far safer.
Not Too Forgiving When Wet
You know when you get out of the ocean or a swimming pool and your swimming shorts become a second skin, leaving nothing to the imagination? Well, the same thing can happen if you get caught in the rain wearing underwear beneath your running shorts with no lining.
Your “ambassador” may not have popped all the way out to tip his cap, but being that your running shorts look painted on, he might as well have. So, if you’re catching a lot of wandering eyes and clutched pearls when you run in the rain, now you know why.
The lining in running shorts does a great job of battening down the hatches and keeping everything tucked neatly in place, so if the rain does fall, you’ve got more of an inoffensive, neutral form down there, à la Ken or Action Man.
Underwear with Running Shorts — Summing Up
That’s all there is to it, folks. As long as your running shorts have a supportive, breathable lining, there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t whip off the tighty-whities and go commando. It may seem a little risky at first, but as soon as you feel that refreshing breeze, all will become apparent.
If your running shorts have no such liner, then, unless you’re trying to traumatize the elderly walkers on your route, you should absolutely be wearing underwear, but it’s best to invest in some lycra undershorts rather than wearing your usual unmentionables. They’ll keep you comfortable, and preserve your modesty when you get caught in a downpour.