Today is 6-mile Thursday. Most of this blistering Summer of 2011, I have managed to maintain a 6-mile long run each Thursday. I think it has become my most important run each week. Partly it is due to the solitude and time I have when running a long run. Partly it has been due to seeing if I can tolerate and adjust to whatever weather gets thrown at me each week. This Summer, that has been rather one-dimensional; heat, more heat, and even more heat. It’s a good thing I have a pair of tri-shorts to wear while running.
In May of this year, I went out to look for my first ever pair of tri-shorts. I had finally set the date for my first triathlon (which is next month), and I had been swimming for several months in an old (quite old) pair of swim shorts. It was time to take the plunge and get what I would need for swimming, riding, and running in a triathlon. I had looked several places to try (no pun intended) and locate a pair of tri-shorts, but to no avail. I had only one choice and that was to head to Dallas to my favorite running store, Luke’s Locker. I knew they carried tri gear.
The salesperson at Luke’s was very helpful in picking out shorts to try on. She gave me four good choices based on her recommendations. Two were Zoot brand shorts, one was a 2XU pair, and she gave me a pair of Craft Performance Shorts. Being a complete noob, I tried on all four. Three of them were of the same basic style, meaning they had a narrow waist band and a drawstring. The Craft pair struck me because it had a wide elastic band and no drawstring. I chose the Craft pair based on that feature alone. I really didn’t want to deal with drawstrings and the idea of a wider band on my Clydesdale frame had appeal.
I brought them home and began using them for swimming each week. In this category, they were a great improvement over regular swim shorts. There was less drag and much improved comfort as there weren’t any wet shorts holding up my knee and leg movement. I don’t have anything to base them against to compare with other tri-shorts. However, it is now August and they are holding up well to my (usually) twice weekly swims. There are no rips or snags going on in the fabric. The seams are still in great shape. Overall, for swimming they are doing well.
Sometime in June, I decided I needed to wear them a week or so to try out how they would do running and on the bike. Now, you do have to know that in tri-shorts, the chamois is much smaller than in regular bike shorts. However, the gel chamois used in the Craft Performance was as good as my usual Louis Garneau’s; probably only slightly less comfortable. The real difference I noticed quickly in both running and riding was the difference in temperature. The tri-shorts were much cooler than my regular attire for either task. Therefore, with this summer’s heat, the tri-shorts quickly became my favorite thing to wear for whatever I was doing.
If there is any complaint I have with the Craft Performance shorts, it’s with that wide elastic band. It hasn’t quite lived up to what I expected. The one feature I thought would be better hasn’t worked as well. It has proven quite difficult to keep the band from rolling instead of staying flat. I was able to improve that to a certain degree when I realized I was wearing them incorrectly. I guess it could be my age, but I was pulling the shorts too high. OK, before you conjure up images of Martin Short with an Alfafa hairdo and pants up to his navel—it’s not like that. I was trying to pull them up to my “normal” waist when they were meant to ride low on the hips. I’ve never worn a Speedo-style swimsuit (nor shall I ever), but I have a little idea now of what they wear like.
Now that I’ve worn tri-shorts for a few months, it makes me wonder why I didn’t wear them sooner. Oh, yeah…they are kind of pricey for shorts. Yet, at least this summer, they have definitely been the difference between getting my workouts in or not getting them in. It is important to choose carefully when you purchase the shorts and make sure they fit correctly. I would still buy the Craft Performance shorts again, but I might also opt for a pair with a drawstring. If the tops of your shorts are still likely to roll with a wide band, then it’s probably just as well to have the drawstring. Happy swim, bike, or run during the summer!