A couple of weeks ago I bought new running tights – Under Armour Extreme Coldgear Infrared, to be precise. I shared a selfie on Facebook and Instagram, and on Facebook got a rather snarky reply … which was a reminder that for women tights / yoga pants / leggings are a staple and running tights are pretty much standard issue for female runners, but when it comes to men the subject of running tights is often viewed as TMI. If you share that opinion, you might as well leave now – I’ll be talking about men, running tights, ‘man parts’ and everything involved with men wearing running tights!
Note: as we start the 2014/15 winter I have written about what to wear under tights in a post on Runderwear!
Last month at RunBlogger Pete brought up the (seemingly) age-old debate: if you wear running tights, should you wear shorts over them? It spurred a lively debate, but ultimately for me it came down to three things – temperature, wind and modesty. Let me take those apart for a second:
The original reason for the post at Runblogger was that Pete was out running on a cold and windy day and found that his running tights did an insufficient job of ‘protecting his man parts’.
Well, I started this draft actually the week before after coming back from one of the LEAST pleasant runs since I ‘got my groove’ in April 2012. The reason? Temperature was around 20F, but the wind was nasty and frigid, and well … ‘man part discomfort’. Ugh, sorry.
OK, TMI alert again … The bottom line is that a large number of men wearing running tights don’t wear anything underneath, and that most running tights do an inadequate job of providing wind protection.
I have said it again and again – wind chill is a royal pain and I find it much worse than cold temperature. So as much as anything this year I have really focused my clothing choices on what the winds are like as much as the temperature.
I used to have a motto – when below 20F in the mornings I would put on running pants over tights. This year when I did that I really didn’t like the feel – I found it was bogging me down considerably, but not in a ‘harder to run through snow’ sort of way. It was just bulky.
But the question remains – how do you handle layering when it gets colder? At a certain point you need to pretty much throw everything at the problem! But like you top layer, on the bottom you start at shorts, go to tights, then to your heaviest layers. In between, shorts over tights give coverage and help with wind blockage as well.
Here’s the thing – as noted many runners don’t wear anything under tights. And tights themselves can be a bit … um, revealing. So – for some runners wearing shorts on top has absolutely nothing to do with warmth or comfort and everything to do with coverage. In his post Pete mentions running through the college as one of those times, and I understand that.
Some runners feel that we have earned this body so who really cares, and if someone is going to look … so be it. Some people get downright incensed about others wearing shorts over tights. Personally I think that whatever works for you, go for it. When I tried it, Lisa told me I looked dorky with shorts over tights – and that is the only opinion I need. 🙂
As I noted before, my first run in tights was just after Christmas 2012, and it was quite a leap outside of my comfort zone to even wear them. But they were INCREDIBLY comfortable, much lighter and easier to run in than running pants, so I was quickly hooked. As mentioned, throughout 2013 I ran with pants over tights when temperatures got too cold, and kept warm as a result.
After that one fateful ‘freezer burn’ run (sorry again!), I knew I had to do SOMETHING … and I realized that had a great pair of Under Armour compression shorts I had worn to run the PA Grand Canyon Marathon … so I put those on UNDER the tights!
Hooray – it was perfect!
Suddenly I had that ‘in between’ option that could take me beyond the normal range of the tights. And when I got the Under Armour Extreme Coldgear Infrared tights, I had yet another level. But for -20F wind chills or -15 air temperatures? Then I needed more.
So when I talk about my layering strategy for the bottoms at -15, it comes down to compression socks, Under Armour shorts and Extreme Coldgear Infrared tights. And that is it. Nothing else – and I have yet to feel cold anywhere but my hands!
What do you think about men in running tights? And for men – what is your strategy? Have you struggled with wind and cold?