When I first started running four years ago, I didn’t think about dedicated running clothes. I’d previously been a die-hard hot yoga person, so I ran in clothing meant for low-impact exercise. I quickly learned that that attire gave me no support, no compression, and almost no breathability—especially on longer runs. Pants that once supported me through a vinyasa class sagged during a run and my well-loved tanks left me overheated.
As someone who is under five feet tall and also fairly petite, I’m not exactly a stranger to wearing clothes that, well, just don’t fit properly. Pants tend to be too long, shirts are always oversized, and business clothes sometimes make me feel like a child playing dress up. My latest foray into running proved to be no different. Though my discomfort grew, so did my interest in what other short runners in my running club were wearing. To blend in with the crowd, I went with my usual clothing habit of purchasing athletic apparel from the children’s section. But I quickly learned that the almost-tailored fit I sometimes found in children’s winter coats did not translate to running jackets and tops: the sleeves were too short and the chest area was much too tight.
The Best Running Gear for Short Runners
After much trial and error (and continuing to fixate on what worked for fellow running shorties), I finally found my running holy grails. Read on for the best running gear for short runners under five feet tall, from coveted activewear brands like Brooks, Tracksmith, Girlfriend Collective, and more.
Running Leggings and Tights
What’s better than leggings with pockets? Leggings with short inseams! The Girlfriend Collective Compressive Pocket Leggings come with a rare 23 3/4-inch inseam that hit perfectly right at my ankles. The fabric is slightly thicker than other leggings that I’ve tried, which makes them ideal for colder winter runs.
The Lululemon Fast and Free High-Rise Tights are designed specifically for running. Its inseam is slightly longer, but it’s still short enough so it won’t bunch up at your ankle. The fabric is thin and breezy which allows for extra movement on speed days, but still keeps you warm in the colder months.
Best of all, the pockets on both of these running tights are fairly deep and can fit your phone, keys, and fuel perfectly, so you don’t have to worry about wearing a running belt.
Finding running shorts that aren’t too long has been a difficult task—especially if I’m looking to wear bike shorts or compressive running shorts. These Girlfriend Collective High-Rise Run Shorts are my holy grail. They’re shorter than your typical compression bike shorts, which means they hit perfectly mid-thigh instead of grazing the tops of my knees.
For a more classic style, Tracksmith Twilight Split Shorts are the varsity shorts of my dreams. Similar to the crop tank (which I mention below), the best thing about this collection is the fabric: All of the pieces are light, airy, and moisture-wicking, so these items are perfect for those hot and humid days. The shorts are super slick and breezy, so they move well whether you’re doing quick track workouts or easy recovery runs.
Initially, I wore regular low-cut socks—not knowing the wonders of specialty running socks. All of that changed when I noticed the fun, vibrant colors of Bombas socks peeking out from a friend’s shoe. I snagged a three-pack of ankle socks and I’ve never looked back. They’re soft, snug, and fit down to a shoe size four.
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