Okay okay… Get your mind out of the gutter. I am of course referring to the Better Than Naked line of apparel from The North Face. Specifically in this case, to their running shorts.
I should start by saying that in my opinion one of the greatest things about running is it’s simplicity. There is strong anthropological evidence suggesting that we have been distance runners (or “persistence hunters”) for most of our evolutionary history. Today, there are a small number of tribes in the world that still practice this (Dr. Tim Noakes touches on this in his excellent “Waterlogged” to be reviewed soon). These tribes, or even the children playing in parks and back yards all around the world, don’t need the latest in motion-control footwear or wicking light-weight fabrics to run. They just run. In fact as a side note I strongly encourage you to watch a group of children run; it’s remarkable. They instinctively have great form, and run with no fear, but rather complete joy. Afterward compare and contrast with the adults at your local running park. Scary stuff indeed!
Where was I? Oh right… So while all one really needs to run is a pair of shoes and a path, for the diabetic runner this becomes slightly more complicated. At the very least many of us need to carry a pump. For anything longer than a few miles I often carry a CGMS with me and for a really long run I’ll also pack a meter and strips to double check. Add to that the need to carry carbohydrates – remember, for someone with a functional pancreas carbs may be required for optimal performance; for a diabetic they’re required to prevent a visit to the emergency room and soon you’re looking around for a Sherpa to help out. Anyway the point here is that while in my mind going out for a run is an exercise in minimalist simplicity the reality of the matter is I have to carry stuff. For long stuff I usually rely on my trusty Spi-Belt, but for my more run of the mill stuff I’d rather not wear it. So with that in mind a year or so ago I was cruising the REI outlet website (which I L-O-V-E!) and I saw the Better Than Naked shorts on sale for a price that was hard to pass up, so I bought a pair. My expectation was that they would be reasonably well constructed, lightweight, and comfortable. I’m please to report high marks to the shorts in all three. What I didn’t expect was how perfect these are for the diabetic runner.
Really, it’s all about the pockets:
See that? That’s my pump fitting perfectly into one of the side pockets. There’s an identical pocket on the opposite side perfect for a CGMS receiver (at least for my Dexcom 7+):
Finally in the back there is a third, larger pocket that holds enough nutrition for a decently long run (note: there appear to be two versions – one has a zipper pocket in the back while the other has an open top stretch pocked similar in construction to the side pocket. I have not yet had anything fall out of either). All of these pockets are cleverly integrated in such a way that provided I’ve tied the shorts drawstring tightly enough I get nearly zero bounce. I’ve now used them in everything from a fast(ish) 5k to marathons and they’ve held up flawlessly.
Final word: after initially purchasing just one pair, I have since purchased about half a dozen more and run in nothing else. Highly recommended!