5 Signs It’s Time to Throw Out That Pair of Old Running Shorts

I admit that I still run in shorts I bought in 2005. I will go even further and admit I should probably not go out in public in these shorts and that they’re more suited for the trash bin than the light of day. But I have a hard time with that. I wore one such pair for the Boston Marathon! I can’t throw those away! Another, younger, although equally noxious pair of shorts suited me quite well when 9 months pregnant. I will never need them for that again (*knocks vigorously on wood*), but they remind me fondly of all those waddly pregnant miles.

Ok. You’re right. I am a border-line hoarder (although, I prefer the term “sentimental pack rat.”) I think it’s time I wrote myself some rules to help me know when it’s time to part with a pair of shorts no matter how desperately in love with them I am.

Don’t tell me my pregnant shorts aren’t flattering from this angle! At least you can’t smell them…

1. The smell test no longer indicates whether they are clean or dirty. Put another way, the shorts are now what I like to call a “reverse dryer sheet.” After washing with a name brand high quality detergent and then put into the dryer, these shorts make every other garment in the dryer smell like a post-tempo-run-in-the-summertime arm pit (or worse).

2. Stacy and Clinton would reprise their popular TLC programย What Not to Wear if they witnessed you in them.

3. There is not enough Body Glide in the world to save you from the murderous chaffage these shorts inflict on you every single time you wear them. Shorts that used to be kind to your nethers when new may make mince of your crotch when old. When your shorts turn from friend to enemy, banish them to the trash bin or use them to scrub toilets, but do not wear them anymore!

4. The offending shorts leave you within one safety pin failure of indecent exposure. If you have shorts you love but the elastic has decomposed or there’s a split along a seam and you find yourself looking for the safety pins, you know what you need to do. Or if you’re a man I’m married to and the shorts no longer have a liner because it disintegrated several years ago (for the record he still wears them and they offend me when he puts his shoes on if you know what I’m saying) it’s time to say goodbye.

5. Mystery stains. Here’s some math for you.

(white shorts liner + frequent wear) * x years = garbage.

Do you sentimentally cling to a pair of running shorts that should be thrown out? Use the comments to eulogize them and then for the love of all things holy do the right thing!

Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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  1. While training for 26-two
    Only one pair of shorts would do
    They once were fantastic
    But now the elastic
    Is gone, and I fear that they’re through.

    1. Nicely done, Robyn!

      This post (and Robyn’s swell poem) was hysterical! I had a pair purchased in 2006 — I like to call them “the parachute shorts” because they were that awful cheap swishy material — that were my first item of athletic clothing purchased in adulthood, other than a bra. They were the most offensive shade of chartreuse and size XL. They were the only pair of real running shorts I owned for several years, hand washed every day and machine washed a couple times a week. Eventually as I lost three dress sizes I bought new shorts, but continued to wear them. I had to cinch the drawstring so tight they must have looked like a ridiculous green sack around my waist! In 2010 as I was training for my first marathon I put them on and the drawstring snapped, and the ugly XL-sized chartreuse parachute shorts fell off my M-sized butt and to the floor, never to be worn again.

      Although they sat in my dresser for another six months after the drawstring incident, I did throw them out. I am currently wearing a bra that has safety pins all up the back straps.

  2. I think I still occasionally run in the shorts that I ran my first mile in 15 years ago. Yet of all the spandex in my life that has turned to crumbled white fluff, these haven’t. I just can’t throw them out.

  3. I bought my first real running shorts at the local Running Room ten years ago as I was learning why you DON’T wear cotton anything for running. I wore them for my first 5K and had them for so long the elastic was totally fried (y’know where it crunches when you touch it?) They were blue, black with a now deceased slab of reflective tape on both sides. They’re at the bottom of the drawer. I can’t get rid of them!

  4. I have a few pairs of running shorts that I’m having trouble parting with…and I’m ashamed to admit that I have a few bras that I need to trash!