The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Runner – Big Booty Edition

This column was initially posted on our old website by previous blogger, Anne Milligan. We miss her, but her infectious personality carries on. We wanted to re-post this here on the Run Oregon blog. When I was in high school, I was a spritely, little thing that easily stayed at my minimum healthy weight despite proclaiming to anyone who would listen that running was only for people fleeing from jaguars or other large predators. I kept that same attitude when I left for college, and after three years of pizza and library life, I had ballooned up to 205 lbs. I'll never forget the photograph my friend Matt took of me in a tankini when we were on vacation in Cancun that year. Shocked, I asked him if he'd taken it with a fish-eye lens (an ultra wide-angle lens that creates a "spread out," circular image). Trapped, poor Matt blinked and merely shook his head "no." I went home, got on the scale, and cried. And then I changed my life. No more $5 Hot n' Ready's, no more s@#$-talking exercise. As a teen, I'd been deplorable at every sport and had never been able to continuously run a single mile. Because I was awful, I gave up. A few months later, my mother had a heart attack and, shortly thereafter, triple bypass surgery. She was only in her late-40s.


Thankfully, my mother recovered; however, the knowledge that the biological deck was stacked against me did not dissipate as she healed from a quarter-million dollar surgery and hospital stay. Over time, with diet and varied exercise, I lost fifty pounds. Like most people, I still struggle with my weight, and I weigh more now than I did at my maximum weight loss. One of the many phenomenal things about exercise, though, is that even at (I’ll say it) 165 lbs, I still feel confident about my body. Moreover, this is not a merely personal experience–studies show that doing virtually any type of exercise, on a regular basis, helps people feel better about their bodies.

That said, despite the fact that exercise made and makes me feel better about my double-digit-sized behind, it doesn’t change that women with larger lower halves have fewer options than their thinner counterparts for exercise gear when it comes to their derriere. Simple, loose-fitting shorts or a skirt without a liner are not possible without race-rending thigh chafe. Losing more weight doesn’t solve the issue today, and may not solve the issue months from now, either, as inner-thigh rubbing has more to do with shape and running form than size– a point recently addressed in “Curvy Runner’s Dilemma” in the Runner’s World forums.


Let me say once and for all, that I. HATE. GEAR. I’m cheap, skeptical, and I despise paying good money on forty square inches of spandex that promise the moon and can’t deliver on long runs or race day. Until recently, I ran exclusively in a friend’s mother-in-law’s hand-me-down cotton-blend work-out shorts that still had the “IN SPORT” logo from the mid-1980s fading out on the bottom left leg.

Last October (2012), training for my second marathon and sick of muffin top and soggy shorts, I decided to splurge on myself. I spent a week researching women’s running bottoms, combing through Amazon reviews and Runner’s World recommendations. I found all of RW’s recommendations to be out of touch with all but the thinnest of thighs, and eventually landed on the pricey but promising CW-X Women’s Stabilyx Ventilator Compression Shorts. More recently, I also purchased the Moving Comfort Women’s 7.5″ Compression Short and the Women’s R-Gear High-Speed Compression 8″ Short.



The CW-X Stabilyx Ventilator Compression Shorts

The CW-X shorts, which offer medical grade compression at almost $75 a pop, have a nearly unanimous five-star rating on Amazon. They wick sweat easily, have one tiny key-sized pocket in the front, and offer powerful support to keep your stomach, butt, and thighs from jiggling all over the sidewalks and trails. Amazon reviews praise their powers over the C-section gut. CW-X compression is a mandatory part of my long run/race day arsensal, and these shorts have powered me through many runs I felt I was not prepared for. Almost one year later, their only sign of wear is that the reflective CW-X logo is flaking off. Runner’s World forumers report that CW-X replaces knickers and tights gratis if they tear or wear prematurely. OVERALL GRADE: A.


The Womens R-Gear High-Speed Compression 8″ Short


The Womens R-Gear High-Speed Compression short offers a modest 8 inches in length and comes in plum pop, midnight blue, charcoal, and black. They offer zero compression, but they do stay in place over long runs. If you’re willing to look like a tumor is growing out of your upper left hip, there’s a great, stretchy pocket in that area of the shorts that can fit three Gu’s and a Honey Stinger gummy pack. Downside– that zipper pocket takes two hands to close. I wore these shorts recently at the XTERRA Trail Run Hagg Lake Half Marathon on a cool but muggy day and found that the shorts get incredibly wet over a long run– 24 hours post-race, they still weren’t dry. Love the pocket, love the color, but I’m leaving these shorts for the 5 and 10ks. OVERALL GRADE: C+.

The Moving Comfort Women’s 7.5″ Compression Short

Moving Comfort

Finally, the Moving Comfort Women’s 7.5″ Compression Short. A little bit shorter and sexier than the R-Gear and CW-X shorts, and half the price of CW-X. Low-rise, muffin-free fit. Great iPhone-sized zipper pocket in the middle rear, exactly where a pocket should be so that you can camouflage your race day goodies with your lady lumps. With more compression than R-Gear but less than CW-X, these little black shorts have my non-runner boyfriend’s seal of approval for sidewalk hotness. On longer runs, they will get a bit wet, but instead of a sagging sensation (a nuisance of cheaper brands), they cinch in and become an unnoticeable part of your body. OVERALL GRADE: B/B+.

What about you? Are you a loud and proud big booty runner, Clydesdale or Athena? Tell us about your favorite shorts and shorts-based war stories in the comments.


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