The Gym Shorts That Actually Make Me Want to Run

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As the editor of Grub Street, I get to spend lots of time thinking about things like rosy steaks, melty cheeseburgers, crisp martinis, and glistening portions of butter-soaked pasta. That means I also consume plenty of those things, almost certainly more than a normal person should. I’m guessing it’s more, anyway, since I’ve never dared talk to a dietician about the gastronomic horrors I inflict upon my body every day.

Since I don’t have the willpower to go on a months-long dieting plan, like our newly svelte restaurant critic, Adam Platt, and it’s not really in my professional interest to abstain from what you might call “mild gluttony,” my only option for combating inevitable weight gain is exercise. Very frequent exercise.

That, in turn, means I spend a lot of time thinking about an admittedly mundane topic: gym clothes. Waking up every single morning before dawn to go for a run is a real bummer. According to science, our bodies are literally conditioned to de-motivate us from running unless it’s absolutely necessary. And at six in the morning, when I’ve barely gotten through a cup of coffee and I’m still dragging from all the salumi and wood-fired pizza I ate the night before, running definitely doesn’t feel necessary. So I’ve got to do everything I can to make it as easy as possible to get my fat ass to the gym, which includes never having to think about what I’m going to wear. I want to just grab the clothes, get going, and hit the treadmill. In other words: I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about gym shorts, constantly searching for a perfect pair, so I can buy enough to get me through the week without ever having to worry about it.

It may not surprise you to learn that after trying running shorts from every brand you can imagine, I learned Nike makes that perfect pair. I wish I could tell you that the best running shorts were made by some under-the-radar start-up spearheaded by a team of genius exercise savants. But these shorts are the best, and if a giant multinational corporation makes them, so be it.

Here’s why the Nike shorts are great: They’re just short enough to avoid being baggy without being so short and extreme that I look like a marathon wannabe. They have the ever-crucial side pockets to securely hold things like my iPod. And they have an even-more-crucial-but-rarely-seen interior back pocket that’s a great place for keys, since it’s tight, so the keys don’t jangle around and become all annoying while you’re jogging. The material is also extremely light, they’ve got mesh panels on the side, and they’re lined. Also key: a drawstring that actually stays tied.

These things might not sound like killer features, exactly (“Pockets! Whoa!”), but go through enough running shorts and you will discover that it’s nearly impossible to find all of these attributes in the same pair. These don’t have zippers at strange angles. They don’t drop below your knees and flop around. They don’t start sagging down like ten minutes into the run. They’re just extremely functional, comfortable shorts, which is all I want.

Someone else might make a pair that’s superior to these, but I haven’t found them. And I definitely haven’t found them offered in a bunch of different colors — important so the other gym regulars don’t think you’re wearing the same nasty clothes all week — for less than $40, sold basically everywhere so I can grab a new pair whenever I need to without having to think too hard about it.

Buy
Nike Challenger Running Shorts From $31, Amazon

More Editors' Picks for Running Gear

Photo: Bobby Doherty

Lauren Schwartzberg, Associate Editor, The Strategist
Thanks to a blend of anti-microbial merino wool and supersoft rayon, Feetures Elite Merino+ socks feel like stepping inside a pillow, insulating the toes while repelling odor and sweat. They also have targeted compression for arch support and high-density cushioning to prevent blisters.

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Feetures Elite Merino+ Light Cushion Crew Socks $44 for a two-pack, Zappos
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Jessica Roy, News Editor, The Cut
If I could redo my winter wardrobe, I would sew fleece lining into all of my existing clothes. That way, no matter what I wore, I would always feel like I was wrapped in a blanket. Adidas’s ClimaHeat tights are fleece-lined and cozy-feeling, providing the insulation of wool without the itchiness. They’re meant for running — and are great for doing that outside when it’s in the 30s or below — but they’re also perfect for lounging around and looking athletic while eating your weight in cheese.

Buy
Adidas Sequencials ClimaHeat Tights From $53, Amazon

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The Gym Shorts That Actually Make Me Want to Run