Saying Yes to the Shorts Tan

I think most of us can agree that July has already turned out to be pretty spectacular in the Pacific Northwest. The sun has been shining amply, and the heat has stuck to a reasonable, summery level.

Sorry, rest of the country…

In all the years I’ve spent in the area, I can’t really remember there being a more beautiful summer – and I’m trying to do everything I can to take advantage of it.

In running terms, you can’t get much better than June-August. Sure, I personally prefer winter/fall running, but the freedom to run without rain (mostly) and with so much extra daylight is hard to beat. The heat makes us stronger too, and really, who doesn’t love a good sweat-soaked run?

However, there is one part of summer running that has haunted me for years, and which sticks around much longer than the lemonade stands and barbecue smells:

Shorts tans

Oh that beautiful ombre fade, we meet again. I’m pretty certain that through all my years of playing sports and being a runner, I’ve never fully gotten rid of the discoloration between the top and bottom of my quads. No matter the sunscreen or the time that passes, I seem to have a chronic and noticeable shorts tan for all months of the year. And it all stems from the summer months, when the passing of time is shown through the darkening of my lower thighs, and subsequent whitening of my upper thighs.

Now, ordinarily, I’ve sort of bemoaned the shorts tan. Not that anyone consistently sees the full effects, but it’s still a little embarrassing to wear a swimsuit and look like you’re wearing a pair of white shorts.

But not this year.

After probably 15 years of fighting a losing battle with the shorts tan, I’m not only waving my white flag – I’m switching camps. This year, I’m embracing the shorts tan as a stamp of summer; a “running tattoo” that will remind me of all the time I got to spend outdoors, enjoying both the weather and the run. It’s kind of silly that it’s taken me this long to really embrace it, especially considering I wear a swimsuit less than 10 times a year, but I suppose it just required a change in perspective.

And don’t worry, I’m all about sun safety, but we all know that no matter the precaution, summer running comes with some inevitable UVs. And given that somehow my quads tend to soak up more sun than any other part of my body, I seem to have no choice but to give into it. Also, when you only really wear the same style of shorts (Rogas), the ability to really fortify a specific line between white and tan is really heightened.

Bring on the tan lines, because it’s time to rename the farmer’s tan. The runner’s tan is where it’s at this summer, and personally I’m going to take advantage of every opportunity to show my devotion to this endeavor.

Maybe if you’re lucky I’ll share the final product come the end of summer, but I’m guessing not too many people want to see that…

And not to brag you guys, but it’s already something truly special.

So long live the shorts tan! May it be forever a sign of embracing the outdoors, embracing the run, and embracing all the potential our bodies give us.

Who’s with me??

5 thoughts on “Saying Yes to the Shorts Tan

  1. Lauren

    LOL…I was just noticing this morning how I have a sweet shorts tan line along with a racerback tank top one to go with it! I’m outside FAR more in my running clothes than bikini so I’m totally ok with that ;). I’m sure we’ll be adding more definition to said “runners tans” at Ragnar…can’t wait!

    1. la rira

      OMG, I was noticing last night how heinous both my tan line & racerback line. It’s only going to get worse…

  2. Annie

    My personal favorite is the combination sock and Birkenstock tan I’ve got going. This is the first summer I’ve been running since high school, and while the sock, short, and tee-shirt tan bothered me when I was 17, I’m pretty proud of what it means now. I’m happy to be spending so much time outside in the beautiful Seattle summer!


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