This is a story about a boy and his form fitting clothing. Spandex. Hugger of legs, supporter of muscles, 80s fashion staple.
I switched to racing running events in spandex from my trusty Saucony Inferno 3″ split shorts for the North Shore Turkey Trot last year. I did it with some degree of self loathing, but I was prepping for a 50K (which ended in my first DNF) and had decided, after much consultation with the world wide web, that I should run an ultramarathon in spandex. So I bought a pair of CW-X Ventilator shorts.
And they’re great. Supportive, make my butt look swell, and so forth. Except they always chafed me in one small spot right on my speedo line (you know, the nook between your thigh and groin). And as they wore out over the weeks and months, the small spot grew larger and larger. Throw as much lube on it as I want, it still chafes. But I do really like running in spandex (or as some call them, half tights). Time to peruse new options…
In a parallel storyline, earlier this year, an ex of mine bought a pair of spandex running shorts from Oiselle and more or less deemed them life changing. [In fact, so life changing that she has since joined the Oiselle Volee Team.] I had heard of this women’s running apparel company before since they brought 5K goddess Lauren Fleshman onboard in January. I’m pretty much twitter BFFs with Fleshman (her words, not mine! For real!) and read her wonderful blog, so when she joined Oiselle, I read all about it.
[Aside: I read it while in Antarctica and, as I just now opened the link to make sure it work, had a flashback to exactly where I was when I first read the post. The brain is weird.]
The company seemed pretty rad, but it was a women’s running company—made for women by women. I never really poked around too much, other than a casual internet stalk here and there of some Oiselle workers (one of them has an absolutely killer blog that I cannot recommend enough). But cool that they apparently make great clothes! Sadly, I’m a dude.
May 10th, 2013. An earth-shattering instagram post:
Now, Kevin has a habit of taking a lot of selfies (and texting them to me for some reason). Usually they involve multiple layers of v-necks. Sometimes a sweater. But casual wear? Never. This had to be important. If you look at the comments, you’ll see my interest piqued at the prospect of men’s clothing by Oiselle. Alas, Kevin was just wearing women’s clothing. Interest is still high…
[We’re skipping over the part when Tim and Kevin go to USATF Outdoor Nationals and end up being Oiselle models because, well, I’m jealous and hate them for this every day. Being at Nationals. Modeling. Everything.]
June 29, 2013. An earth-shattering tweet:
I’m a graduate student. Though I do make money, I don’t make much of it. Combine that with participating in a stupidly expensive sport (triathlon) and that minimal amount of money becomes, “hey let’s eat dry pasta for the rest of the week.” But the Oiselle Trials Hoodie is on sale. Ignore the fact that I live in a place where I absolutely never need to wear a hoodie. IT’S ON SALE. [I might mention still on sale.] And on Thursday, July 4th, the stars aligned when Oiselle tweeted out a rare coupon code. I caved.
By Monday, I was in heaven:
It was like cuddling with a sea otter. Or at least how cuddly I think a sea otter should be. It’s. So. Comfortable. Man, I hate being a follower, but I joined Kevin and Tim in the #brobird life.
If you skipped the last 600 words: I need to find a new brand of spandex and Oiselle makes kickass women’s clothes. Have our parallel story lines started upon a crash course?
That’s how long it took me to come to terms with the fact male-me had to try running in a pair of women’s shorts. The logic was obvious: women wear spandex more than men. If you want to find the best spandex, find the ones that women make. It’s the crushingly obvious logic that I missed in the world of razors, where I feel like I straight wasted three years of my life. Yet even after four weeks, I swore I was just getting them to try them on and I’d almost certainly send them right back. So much so that, when teammate, friend, and stupidly fast triathlete Jeff asked me if I wanted to order anything from Oiselle because he was placing an order, I said I’d do the ordering since it’d be easier for me to return my shorts.
Guess what guys. The logic was, ahem, logical. There’s really no need for me to harp on the things everyone else who has sought salvation and found it talks about (how soft they are, how they’re crazy flattering, blah blah blah it’s all true) because that wasn’t my issue with my original spandex. My issue was a spot that chafed. To that end, as a scientist, I devised an experiment. I had a two hour run to deal with on Saturday (tapering my ass). I would run somewhere I knew would be oppressively sunny and hot (aka anywhere east of my apartment) and wear my new Oiselle Stride Shorts dry. As in no lube. Zero. Zilch.
Runners love talking about lubing up before long runs (and non-runners love mocking us for this). We chafe everywhere, our nipples bleed, blisters small and large. The whole nine yards. Going out for a sweaty two hour run with no lubrication whatsoever is a death sentence, right? Apparently not. Cause I got home 115 minutes and 16 miles later fully unchafed (and horribly sweaty).
Can us boys pull off ladies spandex? I have four comments:
(1) They were half the price of my CW-X shorts. Half. Like 50%.
(2) I’m shameless in my love of short shorts (I’ve been known to run in a speedo), yet I found these 4″ spandex a bit awkward of a length for a guy at first. I shortly realized there was no real reason behind this other than I’ve only ever seen a guy wear half tights to the lower thigh. Once I got over that bump, the only difference was the thick yoga-pants style waistband, which is supremely comfortable.
(3) The shorts *did* bunch up a bit while running for me. I don’t think this was a sizing issue. I tried to take a picture of what the shorts looked like at the end of the run, but the outcome was borderline NSFW, so I decided to not sext the internet at-large with that one. You can see it a little bit in the above picture. So yeah, they did bunch. Did this affect any part of my run at all? Nope. [Ed Note: Possibly solved. A little birdy informed me my shorts are on backward. Glad the Internet exists to remind me that spandex have a backward and a forward. In other news, I’m still an idiot.]
(4) There’s a zip pocket. On spandex. Did you hear me??? A MOTHERFUCKING ZIP POCKET ON SPANDEX. Not a big pocket. But perfectly sized for a key and a $5 bill. Not big enough for gels or a credit card, but I’ve always just shoved gels in my waistband and I probably hate you if you think you have to carry a credit card on your run.
To recap: I now wear women’s spandex while running. And I think I might be proud of it. If you are a guy and are comfortable running in spandex, you should stop using shitty products made by people who don’t wear spandex and start using awesome products made by people who do wear spandex. That makes sense, right? Go to it.
[This is where I mention that while I just wrote 1300 words about how I discovered even though Oiselle only makes clothes for women, guys should wear it too, it was unprompted by the company itself. I am not sponsored by Oiselle nor have I ever received any free Oiselle products, which probably should have been obvious already as they only make female clothing so they only sponsor female athletes and I’m not of that gender.]