Not really. No one would ever want to eat my shorts. There is something about the interaction of nylon and sweat that produces an odour that I like to describe as rich and fragrant, although my wife prefers to use a different adjective. My feeling is that if you were a short-eater, you would be the kind of gourmand who enjoys those aged soft and stinky goat cheeses. Or the tins of fermented herrings that Swedes love eating but have to be opened outdoors because otherwise the smell can permanently infect a room. But I digress.
This blog is actually about running shorts. That most critical piece of running equipment, without which we would probably all be arrested for indecency. To be precise, it is about my running shorts, which are rapidly coming to the end of their long and very distinguished life. They are the first pair of running shorts I have ever owned even though I have been running for a long time. For many years I didn’t believe you could run in running shorts unless you were a serious runner, so I always ran in long cotton shorts (and took immense pleasure in overtaking anyone wearing running shorts [pretenders!]). But all that changed when I started training for Tassie’s Cradle Run and had to run for more than 40 minutes. It was then that my precious ‘boys’* discovered the perils of chafing. A short time after that I purchased a pair of New Balance running shorts.
Now there are many kinds of running shorts and I like what I like. For instance, I don’t like lycra shorts, which for some reason hold an irresistible attraction to two kinds of people: a, posers, and b, the middle-aged (although I prefer them on posers if given a choice). I particularly dislike lycra short shorts, but I don’t discriminate because I also dislike baggy short shorts, which can often be indecent. My New Balance shorts were great, they had those built-in jocks made from mesh, were produced in a soft fabric and had a little pocket for a key**, but they weren’t so short that the boys greeted the world when I was lolling around on the couch post-run or have a leg up for a bit of hammy stretch.
The New Balance shorts and I had a three month honeymoon. We were good for each other, I took them out on many long runs, we hung out with other shorts, including some very cute numbers circling the Tan. But it wasn’t to last. The worst thing was that right when I needed them most, the day of the Cradle, they let me down badly in the worst possible way.
Now I know you are all imagining my shorts falling down and me running sans shorts*** in a naturalistic Anton Krupicka-type of way (but balding and about as tanned as an Englishman), but that would be incorrect because the waist elastic didn’t go. No, it was the elastic on the internal jocks that died, leaving the boys to bounce around for 40kms or so. Showering after such an experience is an invigorating experience, the gentle interaction of hot water, soap and flayed skin is probably something that the CIA could utilise at Guantanamo.( In fact, I heard a rumour they broke Khalid Sheikh Mohammed by making him run on a treadmill wearing canvas underpants before subjecting him to a hot shower.)
Now because I am a tight arse I put up with the shitty loose jocks for a long time after the Cradle, but every time I ran for more than an hour there would be trouble. It took a surprisingly long time for me to do the obvious – cut those useless jocks out of the short and wear regular jocks. But the problems didn’t end there, it took a while to work out which jocks were the most comfortable for long runs, because let me tell you, there are good jocks for running and bad jocks for running and experience can be a brutal taskmaster.
Eventually, the shorts and I came to a truce – and so it has been for the last couple of years. But recently they have been slowly falling apart. I ran the Cradle for the first time in 2008, so they must be just over four years old and the years haven’t been kind. The waist cord is frayed, the bottoms of them are torn from thrashing through the bush in rogaines and the little pocket has a hole in it. Sad to say, my short arms might have to stretch into my deep pockets sometime soon and get a new pair. But a little bit of me is a little bit sad about it – all the runs we have done together, two Cradles, endless training runs, the sweatfests we have shared, the sunsets. But at the same time, there is a bigger part of me (some say massive, but I don’t like to brag), a particular tender region located further south that will be more than just a little bit happy to see the back of them.
– Ross ‘TF’ Taylor
* That’s a euphemism for balls in case you are a bit slow.
** They were essentially like every other pair of shorts on the market.
*** You pack of perverts.