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There are many different types of running shorts, which are available in an abundance of styles, lengths, and colors. There are shorts designed to be form-fitting and others made to provide a looser fit, some of which have pockets and some of which don't. The best type and style is generally a matter of personal preference.
Running shorts are available in varying lengths, indicated by the inseam measurement, which typically ranges from 1 inch (2.5 cm) to 7 inches (17.8 cm) long. Shorter styles may be good for sprints, while longer shorts may be beneficial during long distance, slower-paced runs. Length is a generally personal preference, however, and some body types may be better suited to certain lengths.
V-notch shorts are the most commonly sold type for running. A pair features an outside seam that runs most of the length of the leg. Once the seam reaches near the bottom, it is notched in an upside-down, v-shaped formation.
Split-leg running shorts are a bit different. They aren't sewn down the length of the leg, but designed so that the front panel overlaps the back. This is said to offer a high level of flexibility.
Shorts designed for running are sold in men's, women's, and unisex styles. As men and women are shaped differently, many people find that choosing a pair of shorts cut specifically for their gender is essential. A quality pair of shorts will be designed to fit the waist, thighs, and hips of the gender for which they are made. Unisex shorts are designed to be worn by either sex, but many people find that they just don't provide a comfortable enough fit.
These shorts can be made from many different fabrics, but most running experts recommend that individuals look for shorts that are made of a fabric that is soft, breathable, and absorbent. For the runner's comfort, he or she might want to avoid cotton and nylon since these fabrics may chafe or hold moisture.
When choosing running shorts for men, support is a very important issue. They should have a liner built in, making a jock strap unnecessary. Liners made of a lightweight material are good for offering decent support. Whether a runner is male or female, he or she should look for shorts lined with material that allows for good airflow and maximum absorbency. Choosing shorts with a soft fabric liner is also a good idea to prevent chafing in the groin area.
In regards to the pockets: most streamlined shorts won't have pockets. Try to find a pair that has a small one on the reverse as it can make a huge difference having a pouch to store energy gels/i-Pod when you compete in a race.
For first-time runners: the shorter the better!
As cringe-worthy as wearing short shorts can be, it is possibly the best way to avoid chafing and discomfort when you start running for longer than 30 minutes at a time.
As the article notes so explicitly: liner. Without a decent liner (and I prefer the solid type rather than the netted type) it can make long distance running almost unbearable.
Ronhill, Saucony and New Balance offer (in my opinion) the best shorts for the serious runner. Nike and Adidas sometimes are guilty of a little too much style over substance.