Running Shorts: One Runner's (Almost) Butt-Naked Discovery

Do you want to feel naked when you run? Maybe it's time to take a closer look at your running shorts.

First, I’ll tell you a story.

Since 2014, I have been running in the Oiselle Roga shorts. Morgantown Running introduced me to the brand, made by women athletes for women athletes. 

Prior to Oiselle, I ran in:

  • Patagonia Nine Trails, Strider Pro and models they no longer make
  • North Face
  • Nike 
  • Marmot
  • Reebok
  • And in my teens, any cotton short under $10

None of these I particularly loved enough to recommend.

But I loved the Rogas, especially the super stretchiness and snug yet unrestrictive fit.

Oiselle Roga Shorts


The Roga shorts carried me through runs and races from single digits to ultramarathons.

My Oiselle Roga collection: The top three are the Long Roga, which I wore during pregnancy and now for hiking; The middle four are the classic Roga; the bottom left in blue is the Toolbelt Roga; and the bottom right in green is the Feathweight Roga.

Then I trained through the hotter-than-usual 2020 southwestern Pennsylvania drought for a 50K trail race, and the Rogas began to lose their appeal.

The race was at the end of September, so my big miles fell in late July, August and early September, when temperatures were in the 80s and sometimes 90s and humidity was at its highest.

Without fail, on a long, hot run, by mile 16, no matter if I wore the original Roga, the Toolbelt Roga or even the Feathweight Roga, they were soaking wet, barely wicking moisture.

Even worse, by mile 16, I would begin to feel the subtle burn of chafing forming as high up the inner leg as possible, as near as my lady parts as possible, where one would place a tape measure if measuring for inseam, where the inner liner of the shorts sat. 

On both legs, hot spots about one inch long and a quarter inch wide resulted. Though miniscule, they were painful enough to hurt, thankfully not until post-run. 

I would step into a warm shower. 

The water would hit that part of my leg. 

And I would hold my breath and tense in agony. 

Or, I would go white water kayaking after a long run. A bikini bottom was out of the question because of the hot spots. And when the river water hit, I would balk and squeal in pain. 

Sometimes it even altered the way I walked. 

This had to stop.


I could have changed the time of day when I was doing long runs, but I didn’t want to, because I love running in the broad daylight under the bright sunshine.

No, I was not willing to forfeit my cherished time with the sun and begin running at 5 a.m. to avoid heat and sweat to prevent chafing.

A better solution was needed. 

I tried some stretchy, spandex shorts, thinking that perhaps without the liner, it would be OK, but I prefer the breeziness of the classic running short with a built-in liner. 

No, I was not willing to forfeit my favorite style of short, either.

Finally, when the September 50K came around, I chose the Featherweight Roga Shorts, in hopes that they would wick moisture better than the others. Fortunately, the race began at 7:30 a.m., earlier than my preferred running time, and race day temperatures were mid-70s. I came out of it chafe-free.

The running shorts I never new existed


Then, after summer was gone, training was over, my longest runs were only 13 miles, temperatures were back down and chafing a non-issue, I heard an advertisement on my favorite podcast

The hosts were talking about Janji, a running apparel company that gives two percent of proceeds from every purchase to support clean water projects in countries that need it.

One of the hosts was describing his experience running in the Janji AFO Shorts.

He said something like, “I feel naked in them!”

Sold.

Janji AFO Middle Shorts


I looked them up and found the Women’s 3” AFO Middle Short.

Keywords that hooked me: 

  • Ultra-light 
  • Barely-there-feeling
  • Moisture-wicking liner
  • Anti-chafe
  • Fast dry time
  • High breathability
  • Excellent sweat wicking

Sold, sold, sold.

I purchased one pair.

After trying them on a 20-mile trail run, I purchased two more.

My Women’s Janji 3” AFO Middle Shorts collection, all in size small. You’ll notice that the pairs on the right and left do not have an external drawcord. The newer version (pictured in the middle) has the drawcord on the outside. I prefer the internal drawcord, but it is less of a deal breaker than anti-chafing, high dry time and the like.

What it's like to run (almost) butt naked...


Now, as I write this, it is not mid-summer, only late spring.

Nonetheless, I have put them to some pretty good tests. 

The best trial of their fast dry-time feature, which is the one I needed most to prevent chafing, happened during the North Fork Mountain Trail Fastest Known Time.

It was 46 degrees and raining before I even started, and it continued to rain for the entire 23.79-mile exposed, ridgeline trail run.

By mile five, I was so wet it felt as if I had leapt into a river.

By the middle of the run, the rain softened just enough. 

I’m not sure if it was the wind created by running, or the light wind itself, but even after hours of running in a downpour, and as it still sprinkled, the Janji 3” AFO Middle Shorts actually dried out.

Indeed, I felt naked. 

Then the rain picked up again, and nothing stood a chance of remaining dry. 

Still, I finished that run with zero chafing, not even the tiniest hint of it, after running on a mountaintop sopping wet for five hours. 

Now, I am left with hope.

Hope that this summer, when I will be drenched in sweat rather than rain, armed with the Janjis, I will have already won the chafing battle. 

In addition to the North Fork FKT, I have run the following distances in the Janjis in the two months that I have owned them:

  • Two 20-milers
  • One 11.2 miler
  • Several eight to seven milers
  • A few five to six milers
  • Countless single digit runs

Plus, they are my short of choice for the upcoming Laurel Highlands Ultra 50K trail race in June.

Author wearing the Janji 3” AFO Middle Shorts in size small. (Photo/Eric Harder)

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the Rogas. And in their defense, they do not claim to be anti-chafe or extremely moisture wicking. But these days, I reach for the Janjis as often as possible and leave the Rogas for non-rainy runs that are less than 10 miles and under 70 degrees.

If you have suffered from that awful way-up-the-inner leg chafing or want a running short made of breezy cool fabric, I highly recommend trying the Janji 3” AFO Middle Shorts. 

Because who doesn’t want to feel naked while running?


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Comments

Marci McGuinness Nice! Keep running in the sunshine!

Brynn Cunningham Will do!

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