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6 best women's running shorts

Whether you’re a seasoned racer or a jogging newbie, invest in some kit for your training

Go the extra mile with our top pick of women's running shorts ( Shutterstock / Matthew Ennis )

Shorts are the sartorial underdog in women’s fitness. While leggings prevail as the staple choice for yoga and pilates, runners have a different set of needs entirely.

While not everyone is eager to reach for a shorter hem as we descend into autumnal climes, shorts offer a whole host of benefits in terms of mobility and practicality that make them the preferred choice for runners, come rain or shine.

Choosing the right pair is key. Ideally, running shorts should foster free movement via lightweight, non-restrictive fabrics that are as breathable as possible. 

However, the most important factor when investing in a pair of new shorts is checking for chafing protection.

Some shorts are designed with built-in underwear to avoid this very problem, it is a helpful and fundamental addition.

Pockets, while typically rather small, can be useful too, giving you somewhere to store your keys/credit card/miscellaneous micro-sized valuables while you’re on the move.

We tried a variety of different options from leading activewear brands to see which shorts reigned supreme in terms of comfort, style and anti-chafing.

Lululemon Speed Short: £48, Lululemon 

The Canadian athleisure label has become somewhat of a cult-favourite among yoga-loving, green juice-sipping stereotypes.

But Lululemon knows a thing or two about women’s sportswear and their expertise in terms of fit, style and comfort often warrants the higher price tag.

The waistband in their shorts is stretchy enough to give you security without feeling too restricted in terms of movement.

They may be a tad shorter than other options listed but unlike some, these shorts do not ride up, or down for that matter. They will stay fairly fixed for the duration of your run, however long the distance may be.

Plus, they come complete with a convenient back pocket. It’s not big enough to hold a smartphone but it could snugly handle your keys and bank card.

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Adidas M10 shorts: £24.95, Adidas

leading light in the sportswear world, Adidas’ offering was never going to disappoint.  

These were stylish and fairly flattering thanks to the slightly flared style. With briefs built underneath, the shorts were great in terms of chafing prevention.

However, the waistband was a little loose and kept loosening even after we tightened it with the drawstring mechanism provided inside, which suggests that they wouldn’t survive too many long distance runs – hence the lower price.

Overall, these shorts are an easy ride if you’re just looking for something to wear on your next 5km.

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Lorna Jane Optimum Run short: £42, Lorna Jane

Australian activewear brand Lorna Jane might be more renowned for its trendy sports bras than its running shorts, but its offering is no less pleasing in terms of quality and aesthetic.

Complete with built-in underwear to prevent chafing, this pair is made from a lightweight, stretchy fabric and come in a two-layer style that is flattering on the legs.

They also helpfully comes with a small zip pocket on the back, perfect for storing your keys.

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New Balance 3 inch Jacquard Impact shorts: £45, New Balance

The colour might not be the most aesthetically pleasing, but New Balance’s Impact shorts do what they say on the tin.

Complete with a streamlined design and a comfortable built-in brief, they are very easy to move in and stay firmly fixed on your body while you run.

They also boast two hidden waistband pockets, which ranks them superior in terms of storage options.

A good fit that may not be pretty, but will go the distance in terms of practicality.

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Sweaty Betty Time Trial Run Shorts: £50, Sweaty Betty

Simple, stylish and effective: these shorts don’t have the bells and whistles of layers or multiple pockets, but they do the job just fine.

A flared fit makes for a flattering look on the leg and the sweat-wicking woven fabric means you won’t overheat if you take your shorts abroad for a run in the sun.

The higher waist makes them the perfect garment to pair with a sports bra and a cropped training top, which is optimum for free movement over a baggy T-shirt.

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Nike Run Division Shorts: £47.95, Nike

True to size but with a slightly longer length, Nike’s shorts are good for the more modest runner who wants to maximise movement without compromising on showing too much skin.

They come in two colours, grey and black, and also come complete with two side pockets – though it’s not certain what you could safely store in there while on the move.

The dry-fit technology fabric is unique and certainly not for everyone – it gives this pair a football short aesthetic.

But like with most Nike garments, these shorts are a reliable and fairly affordable choice.

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Verdict: 6 Best Women's Running Shorts

Overall it’s Lululemon’s combination of a flattering appearance and a comfortable fit that takes the biscuit.

They might not be the cheapest option, but the quality and durability of the material suggest they will stand the test of time and not succumb to fabric fading or loosening.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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