Look closely at the picture above. Do you see anything strange? I didn’t either three years ago when my fitness improved to a point where my longest runs were between 15 and 20 kilometres. Those were the good days. Against all biological odds stacked against me, (my flat arched feet, the extra fat I’ve carried my whole life, weak lungs, bad knees, etc) I managed to become a decent runner. Decent runners need decent gear so I went gear shopping. I bought a decent pair of Nike running shoes, a lime sports vest and what I then thought were the dopest running shorts I’ve ever seen. They were very comfortable and I swear I ran faster whenever I wore them. I bought them in 2012. In early 2014 while I was out running, someone quickly ran past me. A way better runner than me. This didn’t bother me much, I haven’t improved as a runner since 2012 when I peaked. I haven’t gotten better at running, I’ve gotten progressively worse in the last three years. I only run begrudgingly to help manage my depression and hypertension as per my doctor’s orders. When I go running, I expect someone to swiftly run past me, I have gotten that slow but this time it really bothered me when a better runner ran past me.
She had tied her braids in a pony-tail and they would swivel left to right in unison with each stride she took. Her stride looked like that of someone who had been running professionally for years. It didn’t bother me that a woman, a far better runner than I would ever be, had ran passed me. What bothered me was that when I took a quick glance at her butt (I do this with every runner in front of me, it’s a habit that I can’t seem to understand), I noticed that she was wearing similar shorts to mine. Almost Identical. I watched her until I could no longer see her and I became convinced that she was wearing the same shorts as mine.
About a month later while I was shopping for gym gloves, I passed by the women’s section of the store and it was confirmed, for the past two years I’ve been wearing women’s short when I went running. A few times after that, whenever I wore those shorts for my runs, it felt uncomfortable. I started feeling like people were staring at me. The paranoia got so bad that sometime last year I stopped wearing them altogether. This is strange because I know that gender is a performance. I know that gendered products are stupid and nefarious way that is used by these brands to push more units (his & hers motherfcker!) and blah blah blah. Plus, I was never really that much invested in masculinity to begin with, I was never that good at the performance and yet, the fact that I owned a pair of women’s shorts bothered me. The two running shorts that I have bought since haven’t been as comfortable and don’t look as good on me as those shorts, yet still, I can’t bring myself to put them on.
I have recently decided to give running another try. To follow a training program and not run sporadically whenever I feel guilty about the number of beers I’ve guzzled over the weekend. I’ve also been eating well and doing lunges and squats. My thighs look really good and the world deserves to see them. I should look for those pair of running shorts that happen to be “for” women. They’re very comfortable and are the only ones that can show the world my thighs.