You know when you decide to treat yourself to a new dress? Sometimes all the stars align and you find exactly what you’re looking for – right style, right colour, maybe it’s on sale at TK Maxx and is therefore so cheap it’s practically in minus figures.
You try it on and it looks even better on you than it did on the hanger. You smooth the skirt down and…
…holy mother of flip. The holy grail. It’s got pockets.
Contrary to the beliefs of whoever the people are who decide what fashion is, girls need to carry stuff. This applies whether we’re wearing work clothes, going out clothes, ball gowns, onesies and definitely, 100% applies to running kit.
For the last few years while I’ve been training at quite long distances typically I need to take with me my phone, bank card, Oyster card, several gels, sometimes tissues and always water. I’d got into a routine of using a small Camelbak for my water and stashing my phone and cards in there too (little tip-ette, put stuff in the pocket before you put the bladder in the backpack…or you’ll be there for days shoogling things about to make them fit). Everything else went into a gel belt, which because of my weird proportions I wear around my waist, not my hips (I can’t do it, don’t @ me, they move about all over the shop on my hips regardless of brand, size or fastening method. Yes, even Flipbelts.) and even then I tend to need a couple of large safety pins to make them small enough.
This is not a humblebrag. I cannot possibly be the only female distance runner who has this issue, I know I’m not large but neither am I especially small within the context of marathon runners. I’m also convinced gel belts give me stitch, or at any rate don’t help me get rid of it.
Anyway, the purpose of all this whingeing is to let you know that I have spent the summer running in the holy grail of running shorts – ones with proper gel pockets built in! They are Nike Eclipse 2-in-1 running shorts, mine are in ‘Gunsmoke’ grey (ooh, fancy!) and they have a long open topped pocket which runs the length of the undershorts, one on each side.
This is me wearing them at Newark so you can see the length and at the Richmond marathon so you can see how much stuff I had stashed in the pockets. I can fit up to 6 gels in these things, 3 per leg. The side pockets are also great for carrying your phone (I discovered this on my 20 miler in Aberdeen, alas I forgot a gel had leaked into the pocket before I slipped my iPhone in there – don’t do that, it’s a sticky business), and there’s a pocket on the back of the waistband which is fairly small, but waterproof and big enough for your keys and cards.
Even better, they are comfy and light and they don’t ride up much (I actually think having stuff in the pockets helps with this!).
I picked these shorts up on a whim in Niketown for about £38 and they were the best running kit investment I’ve made in ages. I love them and will be running in this style for as long as Nike continue to make them.
That’s not the end of it though. This weekend I made another cracking find in the world of how to carry all your crap around when running.
It’s getting colder already, and it will soon be time to mothball the shorts for a few months. I started having a look for full length tights with similar side pockets. What I found was this amazing invention – Formbelt tights.
Believe it or not there are 4 SiS gels in the front of this waistband!
These things are genius; really nice, comfortable and flattering tights in a range of either plain or mad colour options, and the waistband has three openings on the top (two at the front for ease of access and one at the back so you can push things to the far end that you wish to keep extra safe). The entire waistband is therefore a running belt.
I tested them out at parkrun on Saturday – in these pictures the waistband is full of my phone, keys, cards, a gel (just for trial purposes, not to sustain me around parkrun!) and a few tissues for good measure. Not only did nothing move, I genuinely didn’t even notice anything was there. There’s a sturdy drawstring which keeps the waistband in place and the waistband is lovely and thick. I liked these so much I ordered a couple more pairs as soon as I got in!
I got mine via Amazon, prices vary based on size and colour but at the time of writing the styles I looked at were priced between £12 and £35.
I am very excited to have liberated myself from the shackles of uncomfortable gel belts for future long runs and races and I very much recommend both of these bits of kit if you would like to do the same.
Although on the downside I suppose I’ll have to think of a different excuse now the next time I get stitch…!