/ Running in shorts

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Fredt on 14 Feb 2013
I left the house at 6am yesterday, the car thermometor showed an outside temp of -6 degrees C. A little down the road I saw a young lady running in a vest and shorts. Why?
She's not the only one, I see runners every day wearing shorts, and this country is not renowned for warm temperatures.

My physio has always told me that the knees are particularly susceptible to the cold, and damage can result if exerted when cold. The knee has no surrounding tissue and muscle to protect it from the cold, and the fluid in the joint is not insulated.
Professional athletes warm up gently, and keep the leggings on until the last minute to keep everything warm. A US cycling Team manager used to fine his cyclists if he ever cought them cycling with uncovered knees, unless it was above 70F.

My dad, despite (and probably because of) my nagging insisted on wearing shorts in all weathers when walking, even in a blizzard on Kinder. He needed new knees at age 65, and the surgeon said his shorts habit will have contributed.

I never wear shorts when running, I don't see the point, my Ronnies are the default kit, in any weather. They don't hinder or chafe, I even sometimes wear knee warmers as well (as well as the willie warmer).

So somebody enlighten me, why wear shorts, ever, and especially in sub-zero temperatures?
Trangia - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt:
> I left the house at 6am yesterday, the car thermometor showed an outside temp of -6 degrees C. A little down the road I saw a young lady running in a vest and shorts. Why?
>

Did she have nice legs? :)
Fredt on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Trangia:

If you like blue legs.
colinmcmanus on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt: Because it's a free world and we choose to.

Do you do everything in your life following the best advice of scientists and professionals and ensuring you minimise risk?

I doubt it.

Wear what you want when you run, nobody will criticise you unless it's a Batman costume.

Let those that choose to wear shorts wear them in peace.
Dr.S at work - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt:
do you actually have any evidence for this theory?
ThunderCat - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt:

I've only started running. I went out for the first time a few weeks ago when it was bloody freezing in a fleece and long tracksuit pants. After 5 minutes I was overheating - sweating like a ****** and way too hot.

I realise this may have been down to my rubbish fitness levels, but maybe it is because some people generate more heat than others and wearing long clothes. Don't know - be interesting to hear the comments of more seasoned runners (and those with a bit of physio knowledge).

I do bike a lot though, and I can't bear wearing long trousers due to the same overheating issue.
yorkshireman - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt:

Its still only February, there are a lot of New Years Resolution runners still going so she might not have base layer kit yet.

It was -12 this morning when I went for a run - I was wearing running tights, a buff, 2 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of gloves, base layer and outer running shell layer. I've long since learned not to be a hero.

I'm in London next week and am actually looking forward to running in shorts - I did when I was there a couple of weeks ago - if its above 4 or 5C then its fine, especially on a longer run. To me, the best argument of shorts is they take up less space in the washing machine. I seem to be washing running kit every few days in the winter (I run maybe 6 times a week).

Interesting about the knees though - I've got no idea about the science behind it but it might make sense, but it would be interesting to see some evidence.

I'll ask a physio friend of mine, although he once told me he always runs in shorts whatever the weather (in the UK southeast).
Liam M - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt: I run in tights or Ron Hills in the depth of winter on easy or club runs that may be a bit more stop start, but I really can't say I like them. The Ron Hills feel heavy and clumpy around the knees and ankles, and as soon as I put any sort of effort in I'll find my calves and quads sweltering and feeling prickly in them. I struggle with the feeling of compression on my calves that comes with tights, and they've left my legs feeling very unstable toward the end of long runs.

They can also be a complete arse if there is any wet around, so I would never use anything long on an off road race - they just collect the water and freeze to the skin, leaving me considerably colder than if I'd just gone out in shorts.

So for 90% of the year, and 100% of races to date I'll wear race shorts. They have better ventilation, feel much lighter and don't suffer anywhere near the issues of holding onto sweat or rain (or muddy water!) that anything longer would. I can't say I've ever had my legs feel cold as long as I keep moving, even when running through snow or semi-frozen streams (unlike my hands and forearms which turn to blocks of ice as soon as the thermometer hits single figures - I'll be in gloves and arm warmers for a lot more of the year).
Run_Ross_Run - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt:
>
>
> So somebody enlighten me, why wear shorts, ever, and especially in sub-zero temperatures?

To look aarrrrrrddddd!
Rampikino - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt:

I varied - sometimes wear something longer if it was particularly cold, but normally shorts because of overheating - even in the cold.
tony on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt:

I much prefer running in shorts to anything longer. It's a bit hard to say why, except that I prefer the feeling of freedom and lack of constriction. I'll run in running tights when it is really cold, but I'll always race in shorts. And there's nothing wrong with my knees.
JayPee630 - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt:

Are you for real?
freerangecat - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to ThunderCat:

> I do bike a lot though, and I can't bear wearing long trousers due to the same overheating issue.

My knees ache horribly if I cycle in the cold, even with trousers on (they generally start aching just after I stop, normally just as I get to the stairs to my office/flat!). I got some knee warmers in December after a really bad dose of knee pain then promptly got ill - I've neatly solved the problem by having been unable to cycle for 2 months, but don't really know if the knee warmers help!
ThunderCat - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to freerangecat:
> (In reply to ThunderCat)
>
> [...]
>
> My knees ache horribly if I cycle in the cold, even with trousers on (they generally start aching just after I stop, normally just as I get to the stairs to my office/flat!). I got some knee warmers in December after a really bad dose of knee pain then promptly got ill - I've neatly solved the problem by having been unable to cycle for 2 months, but don't really know if the knee warmers help!

On reaaaaally cold days I'm distracted by the numbing freezeing of my head and ears...I somehow always manage to have a really close haircut the night before a cold snap...



jamesc88 on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt: There is actually something to this. 3/4's are perfect for this reason, insulate your knees but expose enough to stop you over heating.

A good layering system is always the way though, when I run to work I'll start in gloves, hat, waterproof. About a mile in I've lost the hat and gloves, by mile 2 I'm in base layer and tights.

Put a layer on before your cold and take one off before your hot. Good advice from long distance cyclists.

Bring on the summer though, I look amazing in short shorts.
Nutkey on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt:
> I left the house at 6am yesterday, the car thermometor showed an outside temp of -6 degrees C. A little down the road I saw a young lady running in a vest and shorts. Why?

Because she's not you?

I hate running in leggings, partly because I have short legs and large thighs and it is a real struggle to find anything that fits. I have finally found a pair that aren't too bad, but they're certainly not be first choice. The crucial feature for me was ankle zips, so I can pull them off if I get too hot (I always wear shorts underneath).

> Professional athletes warm up gently, and keep the leggings on until the last minute to keep everything warm. A US cycling Team manager used to fine his cyclists if he ever cought them cycling with uncovered knees, unless it was above 70F.

Then I suggest you go down to our lido in a couple of months and chastise all the people who will be swimming in 60F water. It rarely gets to 70.

If I wore leggings at 50F, never mind mind 70, I'd be chafed to hell from all the sweat.

> My dad, despite (and probably because of) my nagging insisted on wearing shorts in all weathers when walking, even in a blizzard on Kinder. He needed new knees at age 65, and the surgeon said his shorts habit will have contributed.

What's walking in a blizzard got to do with running in what was presumably not a blizzard?

> I never wear shorts when running, I don't see the point, my Ronnies are the default kit, in any weather. They don't hinder or chafe, I even sometimes wear knee warmers as well (as well as the willie warmer).
>
> So somebody enlighten me, why wear shorts, ever, and especially in sub-zero temperatures?

Because we're not you.

Steff - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt:

I was under the impression that running ridiculously underdressed was a British tradition. As a foreigner who has run in winter in various countries and has always ever come across this phenomenon in the UK, I am also very keen on an explanation ;-)
Nutkey on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to jamesc88:
> (In reply to Fredt) There is actually something to this. 3/4's are perfect for this reason, insulate your knees but expose enough to stop you over heating.

I would deeply prefer a pair of 3/4s to full length - but have yet to find any that are actually 3/4 on me (29" leg).
Steff - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Steff:

Similarly I would like to enquiry about the dislike of tights, especially 3/4 length tights. These seem strangely unpopular in the UK ;-)
tony on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Steff:

At the Devil's Burdens race on Saturday, on the Lomond Hills in Fife, we had everything from vest and shorts (a very small minority) to full-body cover, hats and gloves and multiple baselayers. Not everyone goes for the skimpy option!
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IainRUK - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt: I was asked at a trail race last week what balm I used on my legs.. as I was the only one in shorts.. and typical short shorts..

I wear tights a lot but for harder runs in most weather always shorts..
The New NickB - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Steff:
> (In reply to Fredt)
>
> I was under the impression that running ridiculously underdressed was a British tradition. As a foreigner who has run in winter in various countries and has always ever come across this phenomenon in the UK, I am also very keen on an explanation ;-)

It is pretty simple, us Brits overheat, we would rather be cold than hot.
DancingOnRock - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt: I just prefer running in shorts. I don't feel the cold apart from my head and my fingers. So hat, gloves, long slaves top and shorts. I bought some long tracksuit bottoms when it drops below -3'C and I'm running 10miles. I have worn them 3 times this year out of 20odd runs.
Steff - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to tony:
> Not everyone goes for the skimpy option!

Yes, but in other place, nobody goes for the skimpy option ;-)

I did a 20k trail race last weekend where temperature dropped to a terrifying 11 degrees centigrade and I would estimate that half the field wore long tights. The other extreme so to speak. I wore short tights and t-shirt, instead of shorts and vest, as I would on a warmer day. It's just what you acclimatize to, I suppose.
tony on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Steff:

11 degrees! Boilin'! I definitely be in shorts for that, and probably a vest, if I was racing.

I don't recall ever having cold legs when I've been racing in shorts, and the only time I really remember being cold in a race was on the Run of the Mill race on the Ochils, one November, at the top of Ben Cleuch. There was a bitter wind and I was almost on the point of putting a jacket on when the route started going down and I speeded up.
Liam M - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Steff: I've seen locals in the Canaries running in tights, long sleeve tshirts with jackets over the top and hats in nigh on 30degree heat. I wilt just thinking about it!
jepotherepo - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt:

Id love to hear what your fathers orthopaedic surgeons + physios scientific rationale was for saying wearing shorts had anything to do with osteoarthritis!

Please find out and educate us and ill be straight down the shops to buy some knee muffs.

Until then ill carry on fell running in the snow in my shorts! ;)
Fredt on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt:

An interesting and varied, and sometimes constructive set of responses.

I am not saying it is wrong to run in shorts, my question was about what advantage it had (I can't see any) and some have talked about freedom, comfort and overheating. Fine.

I have no evidence, only what people have said to me and advised me.

Interesting the comments about other countries thinking we're mad in the UK running in shorts.

And being old, I also know that if any joint is cold, it hurts more than when it is warm. But I'm no expert.

I'm only asking for thoughts, not trying to bring in laws.

moffatross on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt:
>"So somebody enlighten me, why wear shorts, ever, and especially in sub-zero temperatures?"<
My regular run is up through grazing land then through the forest plantation glades on the lower slopes of Hart Fell above Moffat. It finishes with a mandatory wash in the burn at the end of the garden to clean the inevitable mud, grit and cow crap off of my legs and shoes. Legs clean up easily enough but have you ever tried to get any of that shit off Tracksters ? I can assure you that they really suck it up and don't let go of it. Regarding cold knees, most winter days, the upper reaches of the run @ about 1,500 ft asl have some snow in the forest glades and often e.g. this morning, there is snow throughout. It's not knees that suffer, it's feet.

In reply to colinmcmanus:
>"Wear what you want when you run, nobody will criticise you unless it's a Batman costume."<

How many Jimmy Savile costumes will we see @ this year's London Marathon ? Would they make it round alive ? :P
kathrync - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt:

>
> My physio has always told me that the knees are particularly susceptible to the cold, and damage can result if exerted when cold. The knee has no surrounding tissue and muscle to protect it from the cold, and the fluid in the joint is not insulated.

I agree joints can be vulnerable when they are cold. Once you have warmed up they should be ok though as long as you are working hard enough to keep them warm.

> Professional athletes warm up gently, and keep the leggings on until the last minute to keep everything warm.

How do you know she didn't? She might have warmed up in her home or a gym, or stashed jogging bottoms somewhere (I have been known to do the latter when it's cold). Also, professional athletes will remove their warm-up kit when they are actually doing their sport...I don't really see how this differs as long as she warmed up properly.

> I never wear shorts when running, I don't see the point, my Ronnies are the default kit, in any weather. They don't hinder or chafe, I even sometimes wear knee warmers as well (as well as the willie warmer).

I agree with most of the people above who said they are too hot (and get prickly when they are hot) and feel too heavy and restrictive. Nothing spoils a run like overheating. For what it's worth, I wear 3/4 tights when it's below about 10 and shorts when it's warmer. If it's really cold out, I'll warm up in the park in Powerstretch then remove it and stash it somewhere before running. I do find my knees (and ankles) twinge a bit when I am cold (note, me being cold is not the same as the weather being cold!). The solution to that is to run the first km or so slow until I am warm and then the twinging miraculously vanishes whatever I am wearing.
>
> So somebody enlighten me, why wear shorts, ever, and especially in sub-zero temperatures?

Because that's what works for her?

wbo - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt: I use 3/4's in the winter as well, unless it's below -8. Tights flap and drag, and Get wet.

I'd like to hear the reasoning for wearing ron's in the summer as it's got to be an utter drag in all ways. Norwegians always wear too much stuff, and white obviously suffer for it.

Cyclings irrelevant - much colder
wintertree - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt:

> So somebody enlighten me, why wear shorts, ever, and especially in sub-zero temperatures?

Because you're running fast enough that you are perfectly warm? I often see people jogging in long sleeved tops, leggings and wearing hats. I could ponder why, but I assume they're either not really trying or are lizard people...
Fredt on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to JayPee630:
> (In reply to Fredt)
>
> Are you for real?

Am I for real what?

Ale? Madrid?
Dauphin - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt:

tights or meggings are for mincers. short shorts or nowt.

D
HB1 - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt: you've caused a few folk to get hot under the collar about shorts, but 6am minus whatever degrees does sound foolhardy to me - but then I'm 65 and lucky to be running at all and do try to keep warm. 2 days ago it was cold, and I wore longjohns and Rons. Today I just wore Rons (cut off below the knee - I waS very pleased when I did that) and lighter tops. My problem/worry has always been - what happens if I have an accident somewhere remote? It doesn't take long to get VERY cold and so I have some backup kit when I go out
The New NickB - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt:

I have got to say I love running fast in the cold in shorts, vest and gloves. The gloves come off after a mile. Cold is rarely a problem, if you are moving fairly fast and generating a fair bit of heat -6 can feel very pleasant. Wind and rain can make +2 very unpleasant indeed.
The New NickB - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to HB1:

It really depends where you are running.
NeilMac - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt:

>>A US cycling Team manager used to fine his cyclists if he ever cought them cycling with uncovered knees, unless it was above 70F.

I read similar in a cycling fitness book which advised to keep knees covered if below 17C (about 62F) to prevent damage.
NeilMac - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Liam M:
> (In reply to Steff) I've seen locals in the Canaries running in tights, long sleeve tshirts with jackets over the top and hats in nigh on 30degree heat. I wilt just thinking about it!

Maybe to avoid skin cancer?

Orgsm on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt:

Because she didn't fancy running naked?
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DancingOnRock - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Steff:
> (In reply to tony)
> [...]
>
> Yes, but in other place, nobody goes for the skimpy option ;-)
>
> I did a 20k trail race last weekend where temperature dropped to a terrifying 11 degrees centigrade and I would estimate that half the field wore long tights. The other extreme so to speak. I wore short tights and t-shirt, instead of shorts and vest, as I would on a warmer day. It's just what you acclimatize to, I suppose.

Do you mean -11'C or are you being sarcastic?

11'C is definitely shorts an t-shirt. I'm yet to be converted to tights although everyone I know who has been against them now wouldn't go back. Apparently they're are still cool when you get hot. However, I still overheat in the cool long sleeve tops so I'm not convinced they're for me.
JdotP - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt:

I think it is important to wear shorts from the psychological point of view - especially for fell running. If you don't wear shorts then psychologically the outing just turns into a fast hillwalk rather than a run.
martinph78 on 14 Feb 2013

> I never wear shorts when running, I don't see the point, my Ronnies are the default kit, in any weather.

I honestly don't see thepoint in wearing Ronnies in any weather. Can I ask why you would in warm weather and not wear shorts?

If it was so bad to be in shorts and caused so much damage to knees I'm sure football clubs (to use one example) would insist on tights to protect the knees of their players.

I wear shorts 99% of the time. Only time I don't is when there's a bitterly cold wind. I run very hot.

As already said, she may have warmed-up at home. I do, saves taking layers/stripping off after 10mins etc.


Steff - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to DancingOnRock:
> (In reply to Steff)
> [...]
>
> Do you mean -11'C or are you being sarcastic?
>

No, I meant 11C above zero. It's as cold as it gets here, so if 9 months a year you have to race in really hot weather the body just adjusts and 11 is cold.
So yes, I was being a bit sarcastic, but was still surprised to see Brits running through the snow in shorts. I have yet to see this in similar temperatures in Germany for example, where I have also raced a fair bit. My question was obviously tongue in cheek, but based on a real observation.
DancingOnRock - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Steff:
> (In reply to DancingOnRock)
> [...]
>
> No, I meant 11C above zero. It's as cold as it gets here, so if 9 months a year you have to race in really hot weather the body just adjusts and 11 is cold.
> So yes, I was being a bit sarcastic, but was still surprised to see Brits running through the snow in shorts. I have yet to see this in similar temperatures in Germany for example, where I have also raced a fair bit. My question was obviously tongue in cheek, but based on a real observation.

I read it takes two weeks to acclimatise to temperature. My main problem is in the summer we don't get two weeks of constant temperature. I'm fine up to about 15'C but anything above that and I overheat too much. I did manage to train up to about 21'C last year when we had a month of hot weather but had to run in the early morning or late evening on the hot days.

We're all different, my brother can't run in the cold, he goes on holiday to hot countries whereas the colder the better for me and the UK is fine for my holidays.

malky_c - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt:
-I would overheat running in anything other than shorts (unless it is below about -5)
-My legs are the last things to get cold normally.
-Legs are easier to clean than leggings.

I like hillwalking in shorts too, providing the temperature isn't too far below freezing. The only times I have regretted it are when wading through knee-deep snow, and when there is a heavy shower of hailstones.
cbonner - on 15 Feb 2013
In reply to Steff:

> I did a 20k trail race last weekend where temperature dropped to a terrifying 11 degrees centigrade

Just shorts, nothing else - too hot!

Liam M - on 15 Feb 2013
In reply to thesaunter:
> (In reply to Fredt)
>
> [...]
> I often see people jogging in long sleeved tops... I could ponder why, but I assume they're either not really trying or are lizard people...

Before I discovered the brilliance that are arm warmers, I'd used long sleeve tops even when going hard. I find if I run easy my hands get cold. If I run hard, they get even colder. My legs, torso and head can be baking but my hands will be like blocks of ice.

Arm warmers and a vest is often a perfect spring or autumn race set up for me (though the image of me running with one arm warmer due to the strength of the wind on a coastal race is probably a particularly strange one!)
Steff - on 15 Feb 2013
In reply to DancingOnRock:

I can be way too warm at 20 degrees in the first warm race of the year in March and then be totally fine at 35 degrees in July, just by slowly getting acclimatised (obviously race times do slow down in summer, but the perception of comfort is ok.

It works the other way around. I can now run reasonable comfortable in 10 degrees, but once temperatures drop again in October, I may feel really cold at 15 degrees, due to not being used to it.
andybenham - on 15 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt: I've heard it all now!

Watched a vid of Killian Jornet running up a very snowy mountain wearing shorts and nothing else! If its ok for Killian its ok for me I reckon!
wbo - on 15 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt: To quote Percy Cerutty, coach of the worlds best runner ever (perhaps)

Wind and rain, hail or shine
Real men run and never whine.

And also from hid masterpiece 'How to become a champion' , inc. in a poem
If you're weak and just so-so,
Don't go running, no no no
Hera - on 18 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt: When I run long distance, I overheat and sweat a lot. If I have too much clothes on, they get wet (and of course dry much slowlier) and the chance to catch a cold is much higher than when you are dressed lighter. The places where I run are not very near where I live, so I always carry a small backpack with something to put on after the run.
Simon Caldwell - on 18 Feb 2013
In reply to Fredt:
I was out running yesterday. I wore tights, but although the ground was frozen my legs were too hot throughout, wished I'd gone for shorts instead.
sbrt on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Liam M:
> (In reply to Steff) I've seen locals in the Canaries running in tights, long sleeve tshirts with jackets over the top and hats in nigh on 30degree heat. I wilt just thinking about it!

Just proves no matter where we run, we are all fellow runners.

We smuggle budgies while they use canaries. No matter where you are, there is still an embarrassing bulge in the front of your tights.

andybenham - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to wbo:

> Wind and rain, hail or shine
> Real men run and never whine.

My new mantra ;) +1

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