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Sound the klaxon – summer is here.
So, you’re on the hunt for a pair of running shorts that don’t ride up, chafe, or smell like your old school P.E. kit in a matter of weeks?
As a health editor, I sweat test workout gear for a living and have bought you guides to the best gym leggings, best sports bras, best running trainers for women, and more. Next up? Shorts that’ll help you go the long run, specifically designed with the female form in mind.
I’ve sweat-tested every pair of shorts in this roundup and can personally guarantee that I enjoyed running in them. As a woman with a sizeable bum and thighs, I know how hard it can be to find shorts that both support and flatter, so trust me when I say: the below do just that.
Need more persuasion to lace up and get outside? Our round-up of the many benefits of running might help. In the meantime – happy shopping (and don’t miss our edit of the best women’s cycling shorts, while you’re here).
Running shorts that don’t ride up: Shop our health editor’s top 17 picks now
What should you look for when searching the web (or store) for a good pair of workout shorts? Good question, which we’ve covered below.
They may seem minor now, but when you’re 10km into a 20km run and realise your card has bounced out of your pocket because you’ve got no zip, you’ll wish you’d trusted us. Thank us later…
Best running shorts for a marathon
Fast and Free Short 6″ – now £39, was £58 | Lululemon
A higher price point but worth every penny, these shorts from Lululemon are sweat-wicking, supportive, and have three separate pockets for your phone, gels, and other essentials. I wore them to run the London Marathon 2021 and they didn’t disappoint.
Flex Essential 2-in-1 Training Shorts – £32.99 | Nike
When I tried these Nike shorts, I found the 2-in-1 short – complete with supportive cycling short underneath – supportive and flattering. Plus, sweat-wicking technology kept me dry, up to the 20 mile distance I tested them over.
Best running shorts with pocket
Impact Run Fitted Short – now £25.20, was £38 | New Balance
Offering not one, not two, but three – yes, three! – pockets (one on each leg and one at the lower back), these cycling-style shorts from New Balance are great. I’ve tried them on many a training run and they always dry quickly. They’re more affordable than other options but do note, though – they’re mid-rise, offering less stomach support than high-rise options, and so slightly less flattering.
Chaser 5″ Short – now £35, was £50 | Brooks
Not too short but not too long, I found the Chaser 5″ shorts from Brooks are airy, supportive, and long-standing, too (I’ve had a mine a few years now). The brand also offers a 90-day test run period, so if you don’t love your shorts after a few months, you can return them for free.
Best 2-in-1 running shorts
Fast Primeblue two-in-one shorts – now £32.30, was £38 | Adidas
They’re one of the brand’s best-selling styles for a reason and I find them soft and breathable, too. They offer maximum support thanks to the underlayer, too – no chafing or moving around over here.
GOODMOVE Woven Layered Gym Shorts – £22.50 | M&S
A great bargain option are the shorts from the M&S GOODMOVE range. I found that these 2-in-1 shorts are particularly worth your money thanks to their mid-rise drawstring waist and zip-up pocket (just don’t expect them to last for years and years).
Best cycling-style running shorts
Power 9″ Cycling Shorts – £60.00 | Sweaty Betty
With over 1,000 reviews and a 4.8* average, you can see why I was keen to try these SB cycling shorts. I found them perfect for running, gym sessions, Pilates, and more – a real all-rounder with what they call “bum-sculpting technology”, too. *Adds to basket*
Epic Luxe Women’s Trail Running shorts – £49.95 | Nike
Trail runners, listen up – you’ll be hard-pressed to find shorts with more pockets than the Epic Luxe. They have seven (yes, seven!) and are a flattering fit, too – I wore them for my Ultra training last year and carried gels, keys, cards, and my phone in them.
Best split running shorts
Find Your Pace High-Rise Short 3″ – £58 | Lululemon
When I tested the Find Your Pace shorts, while I didn’t find them the most supportive style (don’t buy if you like shorts that have a firm hold while you’re moving), I did find them light, airy, and a joy to run in if you’re a fan of the split-style on the leg. Plus, I found that they had plenty of room for movement.
Race Shorts – £70 | ON
Fun fact: the design team at ON collaborated with elite athletes to design this short, specifically crafted with race day in mind. They’re for the speedsters among you – perforated to accelerate airflow and with clever ventilation to boost every step. I liked running in them as they felt light as a feather.
Best cheap running shorts
Women’s UA Fly-By Elite 3” Shorts, £30 | Under Armour
I was a little apprehensive these shorts would be see-through but I was wrong. They’re the perfect low price point shorts IMO – basic but supportive, comfortable but sweat-wicking. Plus, the design includes super-breathable mesh panels (to stop you from getting too hot) and a built-in brief. What’s not to love?
Women’s Running Shorts – £7.99 | Decathlon
With 1,356 reviews and at just £7.99, you can’t go far wrong with these Decathlon shorts. I found that, while they didn’t last for yonks, they supported me through shorter runs once or twice a week, plus, are made with stretch fabric and wide waistband for ultimate comfort. Zip pocket included.
Favourite Woven 3″ Women’s Running Shorts – £20 | Puma
Not for those of you who like more coverage, but I was pleasantly surprised by these Puma running shorts. They sweat-wicked well and didn’t chafe, despite being a slightly stiffer material. Plus, while the waistband wasn’t super high, I found it high enough to support my stomach during an eleven mile trail run.
Plus size running shorts
Sportswear Essential Women’s Mid-Rise Bike Shorts (Plus Size) – £27.95 | Nike
Light, breathable and, according to one reviewer, with no restricting seams, these cycling shorts can be worn for working out or to coffee, too. Do note: they’re mid, not high-rise design, but offer a supportive waistband, too.
Best gym shorts
Ultimate Crop Shorts in Midnight Blue – £32.99 | Adanola
If you’re someone who runs occasionally but gyms regularly, I *love* the Adanola kit. Not only is it soft as anything, but I found that it’s flattering, supportive, and doesn’t ride up or down, too. Go, go, go.
Timeless 5-inch shorts in Tourmaline – £38 | SEFI
From personal trainer Stef Williams comes SEFI, a stripped-back gym wear brand that offers a seriously supportive yet stylish kit. I’ve found that while these shorts aren’t best suited for long runs, they are great for shorter runs, deadlifts or days popping to the coffee shop.
Studio Pocket Short – £65 | Vuori
A cult-favourite brand in the US rumoured to be one of Harry Styles’ fav brands, I liked these Vuori shorts for how soft they feel, how flattering they are, and how functional they were for both short runs and gym sessions.
Running shorts for women: what to look out for
1. In-built pant
Fun fact: the pants built into running shorts are normally always made from special moisture-wicking fabric, designed for workouts and to keep you both cool and dry mid-sweat session. Basically, they’re kinder to your skin, and = less washing, too.
2. Supportive style
What you find “supportive” will vary from individual to individual. Some will love cycling shorts, some will like more traditional loose-fit shorts, and others will prefer the double whammy of 2-in-1 cycling shorts layered under a more floaty outer.
Top tip: Not sure what’ll suit your body shape best? Trial and error is the way here. Don’t be afraid to spend ages in the changing room, is my advice – and remember to jump around a lot. Your legs will face far more movement mid-run.
3. Key pocket
Likely not the most important thing that springs to mind when gym kit shopping, but trust me on this one – an absolute essential if you’re a regular runner or even someone who heads to the gym a lot but doesn’t want to take a bag.
Having a pocket on the back of the shorts that zips shut for your keys, phone and card is a game-changer. Take note.
I’m not sure I’m confident enough to wear running shorts – help!
Know this: you’re not alone. While stats on the matter are few and far between, I know from chatting to female friends that the thought of wearing shorts often fills many with dread.
That’s largely because the numbers of women being harassed while running seem to be at an all-time high, with one study from St. Mary’s University finding that 84% of female runners have experienced street harassment in London.
Further, many of us don’t wear shorts due to fears about:
a. lack of support and
b. showing more skin.
I used to be the same, but can’t tell you how liberating and freeing running in shorts can be, if you embrace self-love. Not sure where to start? Our guide to self-care ideas might just help.