Running Fashion Police: Bun Huggers! Spankies! Racing Briefs!

A typical racing outfit for me.

Anyone who knows me knows how I like to race: in a sports bra and briefs. Briefs are those things that some women runners wear that look like bikini bottoms. I like to call them spankies! But you might also know them as “buns” or “bun huggers.” Whatever you call them, they’re what I like to race in.

Of course, this choice of apparel is not without controversy both in and out of the running universe. Today I want to tell you why I (and perhaps you might) like to wear them and give you some things to consider if you do.

Let’s do this Q & A style.

Q: Rocket, why do you run in your underwear? Are you trying to be sexy? 

The photo run by my local paper after I won the Akron Marathon. Let’s just say it inspired some strange reactions!

I am often asked why I run “naked.”  My choice of briefs is really NOT meant to be a fashion statement. I don’t wear them to be sexy. I mean, seriously! Being sexy is the last thing on my mind when I toe the line! Even so, I’ve overheard the comments. Things like, “Did you see that girl in a bikini, what the hell?”  When my picture was on the front cover of the news paper after I won the Akron Marathon there was some backlash. Here’s a sample comment about the photo:

When I looked at the front page of the paper this morning I thought my neighbors Playboy magazine had been delivered to my house by mistake. In a few years, they’ll be running with g-strings and nipple pads. There is obviously no longer such a thing as modesty or propriety in our sex-crazed American culture. 

Alrighty then. The answer is that no, I will not be moving to g-strings or nipple “pads” (does he mean pasties?) The reason I and many other women runners wear them to race in is because they are comfortable and feel fast! There is just something about the feeling of peeling off your bulky warm ups and being in a sleek uniform that finally says I am ready to go!

Q. Do you have to be fast to wear them? I mean, you don’t usually see buns in the back of the pack, if you know what I mean.

Most people assume to be in them means you have to be fast.  Well, more times than not the ladies choosing to adorn the smallest buns and singlets possible have some pretty fast legs and are usually in the top 5 percent of the race. Should this be a steadfast rule?  No! If you think spankies are the most comfortable option go for it!

But word to the weak of heart – if you don’t like being poked fun of, you won’t make it out there.  I don’t care if you are fast, I have heard some pretty snide remarks about my race attire beyond that I look like I want to be in Playboy (*snicker*). When you let a lot hang out, people can say mean things about it. I just roll with it, because to me their comfort and the fact that I feel fast in them makes it worth hearing the occasional snide remark.

Q. Ok, then you need to be super thin to wear them, right?

Well, no! Wear them if they make YOU happy. But remember, they show it all!  Every bump, every ounce of whatever you are.  So for people who don’t like the idea of others seeing that, I would recommend longer shorts. If it makes you feel self conscious, choose something more modest. Spankies are not for everyone, but there are certainly no restrictions on the size or shape of who can pull them off. Like most things, it’s all in the attitude and with what makes you comfortable.

Q. Say, I’m interested in trying out some bun huggers. What should I look for when shopping for a pair?

When looking for and choosing a good pair of spankies, there are a few things to take into account.  They all boil down to making sure they fit!

Fit rule #1: no wedgies! If they are too big, it will be wedgie city!! Since underwear are not typically worn under them, you know what that means… you will be mooning people all over an entire city! Nice decent people who don’t deserve it will see your butt!

Fit rule #2: no camel toeIf the waistband is too loose and they ride up, there’s your camel toe, end of story. Do not let this happen to you! No one wants to see that, and you won’t be buying the pictures of your newly-minted PR if this happens.

Fit rule #3: no muffin top! Make sure they are not too small.  If they are too small, they will give you a super cute muffin top, and make your toned, fit legs look like they are part of a string of sausages. So for a good fit, you want no extra material on your thighs and the leg holes to be just snug enough that they won’t move around.

The singlet and buns look – no flop!

Fit rule #4: no see-through! Finally make sure they are a color that is not see-through. Sometimes terrible things happen during races and you want to make sure that it isn’t the only thing people remember about your race! Also, what happens when white gets wet? Exactly! One other color to stay away from is heather gray.  About two seconds into the race when sweating starts, it looks like you have decided to forgo the the port-o-let, front and back! On race day, we want to feel sleek, poised and ready to go. Maybe try black for your first try with briefs; it’s definitely the safest color choice.

Q. What kind of top goes with them?

To finish off this race day look, I recommend a colorful and fun sports bra!  Something that makes you smile when you see those race photos.  Another good option is a long bra or fitted singlet.  It looks weird to have a loose singlet tucked in or flopping around, making you look like you don’t have any pants on.  So stay away from loose and floppy on the top when choosing what to wear with your spankies!

Have you ever raced in bun huggers? Do you love your spankies? Buns scare you? Tell us how you feel about the littlest running bottoms!

2 time Olympic Trials qualifier in the Marathon, looking to make that 5. I'm a talker, and I'm loud, if you get embarrassed easily...don't go into public with me. I laugh harder when trying to explain why I am laughing. A-Type, try to get things done before the microwave beeps sort of gal.

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  1. I am rolling my eyes dreadfully at the reactions you got from that photo. How ridiculous people can be. Yes it’s ‘skimpy’ but it’s totally decent!

    I will NEVER wear bun huggers – I have British thighs that chafe dreadfully if I don’t have nice amounts of shorts on. However I have started wearing just a sports bra to run in this summer. It feels incredibly risque and I feel so self-conscious but on hot days, I just don’t care – the air on my (slightly flabby post child) belly is just too good to resist.

    My friend wrote a great post recently on the fuss about bun huggers…thought you might like it. In the meantime…keep wearing your ‘bikini’ 😉 You look great in it. (And even if you didn’t look great in it…whatever, you won a race!)

  2. I had to be talked into boy shorts not that long ago and to run shirtless not that long before that! I eventually got very comfortable in the bra and boy shorts look, but then again I was in great shape. Even if I get back in that good of shape I’m not sure I’ll ever dare to go there and run in tiny buns. I also wonder if you aren’t super fast if you’d be even more criticized for wearing them. I feel like I haven’t quite run the race times to get away with it – I feel like I’d look like a poser. Maybe for a track race when I’m back in shape? They seem a little less “crazy” on the track. Maybe?

    1. Agreed Salty! They do seem more welcomed and less out there on the track! haha! I certainly think you should try them!!

    2. I know what Salty’s getting for Christmas this year!

      If you don’t want to wear ’em, don’t wear ’em. But if you look at them with envy…then maybe it’s time to try it out! Come on! You’re no poser, you’re Salty – who cares what anyone else thinks? And clearly, people think a lot of ridiculous things about bunz.

      I have to admit, now that my older shorts are a teench too big for me they keep bunching up until they look like baggy bunz, and I’m starting to get curious to try the real deal. My actual buns are a size 8 (and my tummy is a size 8.5), so I’m not sure how comfortable I’d be in them, but I’m gonna try some on next time I’m at the LRS.

  3. Such a timely post! I just wore buns this past weekend for the first time in a long time! My teammate had a spare pair of the Oiselle competition brief (which is, perhaps, the most conservative pair of buns out there) that she hadn’t worn and were my size so she offered them up to me. I was worried I was going to feel super self conscious or over exposed but oh my gosh were they ever fantastic! Unlike the boy shorts I often wear for racing these didn’t ride up or move around at all so I was never worried that I was showing a little too much cheek to the spectators. I can’t believe I am saying this but I felt very comfortable in them and I will definitely be racing in them again!

  4. I can’t believe people said that about your race photo – you look GREAT! Also congrats on the win in Akron. 🙂 I’m from Ohio too. I don’t think I’ll get into buns (worry about leg on leg chafe) but I’ve started wearing the short spandex shorts and I’m loving them. They don’t ride, make me feel fast, and are super comfy too. Gotta go with what works!

  5. Now I want to wear them just to annoy more of the haters out there. People really need to RELAX! I would have never thought there would be so much back lash about running attire. Maybe you just might see me sporting the bun huggers and sports bra look this summer!

  6. I’ve always raced in a bra and shorts in the heat. I’m not a fan of bun huggers because the printed tag chafes my tailbone. If people are worried about what I’m wearing while running, clearly they have too much time on their hands. And they don’t watch college and elite level races, ’cause that’s the current uniform.

  7. I’m honestly SO shocked that there would be any backlash at all regarding your running attire! You are a super fast, talented runner wearing attire that supports that. All of the female elite runners dress that way and it’s to support performance.The “sexy” parts of the female physique are pretty compressed, so I highly doubt Playboy will be knocking on Runner’s World’s door. That dude’s comments are so ignorant and sexist, and I’m sorry you were subjected to that kind of abuse. Guys run in their performance supporting tiny shorts without shirts and no one blinks an eye! I admire your confidence and your commitment to running how you want despite the rude, hurtful things people may say. The truth is they are all just jealous that they can’t rock running attire like you do, and even more jealous that they can’t run nearly as fast as you do. You are beautiful, talented, and set such a great example of the amazing things that one can do with a solid sense of self.
    Keep representing for the ladies and inspiring us all to not be afraid to be who we are…and to kick butt along the way!!! 😀

    1. Word! Rocket has one of the best attitudes around and the way she so confidently rocks her bunz-bra look inspires many of us ladies to be more confident ourselves. So thanks, Rocket 🙂

  8. IMO bun huggers are the coolest running gear ever invented. Way more comfortable than shorts, more feminine and professional looking, no way would I want to run in shorts. Luckily our athletics director mandates buns for both T&F and XC.

  9. They give the best look and feel for running. As a middle aged skinny guy into recreative running, I dare skimpy bottoms for training on appropriate places like tracks or fitness trails. Unlike ancient Olympics where athletes ran naked, there is not much difference with some male triathletes racing in speedos.

  10. Thanks for the kind comments! I love being a runner and I love my spankies!! Words from someone who doesn’t understand won’t stop me! I cant wait to race along side Salty in them soon!!

  11. You are hilarious. Finally someone who understands the importance of bunners. I have two phrases that I keep to make sure that bunners are appropriate.

    Keep the buns in the bunners.
    Ass out class out.

    Other then that anything goes.

  12. This is great and more power to you!

    I started jogging this summer and decided after my second day of jogging that wearing a shirt was to cumbersome.

    So now I jog shirtless. Mind you I have a hairy chest, shoulders and back. I do not care. Lol.

    My wife has started to join me on my runs and she is slowly edging to the sports bra and bunners. I say more power to her!

  13. I remember some discussion a few years back on the local running message board about these “bunhugger” shorts, and I remember a girl (who I knew at the time) saying that her boyfriend would buy her a pair of them if she would wear them. I don’t know if she ever took him up on the offer. (A local running store carried them at the time, but I never saw a local runner wearing them.)

  14. I know you might not respond to this, but I just wore a pair of buns this morning and loved them! I want more but have no idea how to find them. Google search gives me all kinds of **other** results. Where do you buy yours? I just happened upon mine(Brooks) at TJ Maxx for $2.