What Are the Different Types of Track Shorts?

Page Coleman

Track shorts, also called running shorts, come in styles and colors to fit the needs of any athlete or track team. The chosen style may affect the runner’s freedom of movement or may help prevent chafing. Pockets and liners can offer convenience and comfort. Other running apparel and alternative types of shorts can add to the athlete’s comfort and may be included in track uniforms.

Running shorts, also called track shorts, are available in a variety of lengths.
Running shorts, also called track shorts, are available in a variety of lengths.

The split side running short offers the greatest freedom of movement for the runner. These tend to be quite short. The front panel of the garment overlaps the back panel and the sides are not sewn down the entire length of the outside leg. Though freedom of movement makes them fast shorts, some runners report chafing if their thighs rub and others feel uncomfortable with such a short pair of shorts.

Some track shorts have pockets for convenience.
Some track shorts have pockets for convenience.

V-notch shorts usually provide more coverage but less freedom of movement. The outside legs of this style are stitched almost the entire length except for a small notch at the leg opening. These shorts come in a range of inseam lengths. Runners whose thighs rub may prefer shorts with longer inseams to help prevent chafing. The longer length can make modest runners feel more comfortable.

Cross country shorts are a type of v-notch. These shorts are longer than split side shorts, and they also may alleviate chafing. They are often used for longer or training runs.

Other features in track shorts include small pockets and liners. The pockets are usually only large enough to hold a car or house key. Attached liners may substitute for underwear. Men may find that liners provide support that enhances comfort during runs.

Some runners may not prefer traditional track shorts. Compression shorts are used by some athletes who believe compression can increase endurance and prevent muscle soreness. These shorts might also be worn by triathletes because they can be used for swimming and biking as well as for running clothing.

Women may find running skirts a fun addition to their track clothing wardrobe. Running skirts may feel more feminine and attractive. Depending on the design, the skirt may be made of two layers of fabric, which can increase the garment warmth.

Along with track shorts, other pieces of clothing in track uniforms include running tops. Running tops are often sleeveless to allow greater arm movement. One piece speed suits are another track uniform option. Other track apparel, such as jackets and pants, provide warmth before and after a run, and are often part of a uniform.

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