Here at The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans, we’ve had many a post on what to wear while running, but we haven’t really tackled what to wear (or not wear) UNDER our running clothes. We’ve talked about sports bras but our bottoms have been left less covered, so to speak.
The question I ask today is, to underwear or not to underwear?
In the interest of fuzzy science, I took a little poll of our Shrinking Jeans writing staff (plus a few other runner friends and Twitter). It turns out, this is a pretty heated area (no pun intended) in the running community. You are either commando or you don’t even want to talk about going there. Yes, yours truly runs commando under her tights and capris (my thighs do not allow me to wear cute running shorts with the built-ins or I’d be commando under those too). One of our other writers goes commando, too (Solidarity, sister!) because neither of us need or want the extra chafing. I have a number of personal runner friends who also vote commando. It seems word of mouth gets people to this point. When you complain about your panties being in a bunch, at least one person will ask you why you’re wearing them in the first place. Truth. Frankly, I’ve found going commando is just more comfortable for me and then I’m not picking a wedgie out of my butt for the next 8 miles.
The majority of people I spoke with said they HAD to wear underwear. Some didn’t care what brand, others were very adamant that they be moisture-wicking (Good Job!). I was surprised by how many respondents said cotton undies. Really girls, have I taught you anything? (Just kidding, you know I love you anyway!) I even got a few guys to weigh in on the topic and the results were mixed. I received responses admitted to going commando on short runs, commando all the time, compression shorts to help minimize chafing, or moisture-wicking “sport” briefs. There really are as many possibilities as there are runners.
In any case, the underwear you choose or refuse should match the activity you’re performing. Most experts recommend moisture wicking materials around the nether regions to prevent the transport and growth of bacteria. Just like your other running clothes, cotton is generally frowned upon as it soaks up sweat, gets heavy, chafes, and can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Cotton is light weight and breathable when dry, which makes it perfect undies material, but when it gets wet those properties go away. If your capris or shorts contain a wicking panel, you are probably safe to ditch the undies. Lighter activity which doesn’t produce a ton of sweat? Go ahead and wear your favorite cotton pair, but for heavier workouts you may wish to experiment with some other options. Thong underwear may pose a risk of bacteria moving into areas you’d prefer it not get to, so you might want to leave your cute thongs for after the run. Also avoid anything with thicker seams, lace, etc that may literally rub you the wrong way. Look for synthetic materials or even wool. I had my eye on a pair of wool undies for winter running (because my bum is always freezing) but I couldn’t stomach the $40 price tag. Some women say “boyshorts” don’t ride up and are more comfortable while others prefer bikini styles or briefs. I think it all depends on how you are built. If you want to go commando but are afraid of how that might look, a cute sparkle skirt over your capris may be just the thing for you. Also, there are a number of companies with great running skirts that contain the built in undies if you want a little extra coverage.
So where do you stand on the underwear debate? If you have a favorite pair of sport skivvies, what are they?