Running in Leggings vs. Shorts: What is Better?

Both leggings and shorts have their pros and cons, and the decision is mostly up to personal preference. Within this article, you’ll find out what is good about leggings and shorts, and in which situations the one may be better than the other.

The decision will ultimately be yours, however, as the final verdict is subjective based on your own comfort and needs. So in this guide of “running in leggings vs shorts: what is better?”, we will take a look at which is best as a general statement.

Leggings Vs. Shorts

When it comes to leggings and shorts, you’ll have to consider the nature of your running.

If you’re going to be running cross-country, or any other kind of long-distance running, leggings might not be the choice for you. That being said, using shorts may not be suitable for short distances through areas with lots of brush or sand that could sting against your running legs.

The reasons can be boiled down into roughly three sections: Comfort, Performance, and simple Convenience.


Leggings can be incredibly comfortable for running, especially based on location or season. They keep your legs warm on colder days and protect you from the elements, making sure you’re cozy when you go for a run.

So as a choice based on weather conditions or the climate of your area, leggings can be not only a viable but a preferable option. The comfort and protection they provide in inclement weather are far superior to what a pair of shorts can provide.

However, shorts have their pros too, and when it comes to a warmer climate, they are far better suited. Loose-fitting shorts means you can catch a breeze much easier, and you won’t overheat from exercising.

To summarize the above, leggings means more protection from the elements and cold weather, but when in warmer weather, you’ll be hotter than necessary and ultimately far more uncomfortable than what it’s worth.


Your attire can affect your performance when it comes to running, and this is based on a few factors within itself. Many prefer loose-fitting clothing to give them more room and to be more mobile, while some argue that tight-fitting leggings do the same thing and are more comfortable.

So as you can imagine, the effect that leggings and shorts have on you and your performance is entirely subjective and depends on the person.

Leggings do have some annoying tendencies to grip onto your legs and thighs in uncomfortable ways, while shorts often ride up and bunch in awkward places. However, the clinging of leggings is what allows you to be mobile and flexible as you run, and the loose-fitting nature of shorts is also what lets you move freely and stay cooler during runs.

You will have to decide for yourself what you’re looking for out of your leggings or shorts, and the best way of doing so will be trying out what works for you. Just remember as a rule of thumb: leggings equal warm but clingy; shorts equal cool but bunching.


Going for a run means you’ll likely be bringing along some essentials, such as some house keys, a cell phone, perhaps even a bottle of water. When out on your run, you’ll want to take as little baggage as possible so that you don’t have any unnecessary weight with you.

Shorts are best for this, as nowadays, they are designed with large, deep pockets that have zippers or velcro. These are perfect for safe storage while out on the run, so that you don’t have to worry about bringing along an additional backpack.

Unfortunately, leggings and tights do not have this luxury design. The clinging nature of their design means there is no room for pockets of any size, let alone small ones.

This means shorts are infinitely more convenient for this reason. They offer a much better utility with their extra pockets and are thus the choice to go with if you want the convenience of extra pockets. However, there is a third option.

Leggings AND Shorts

That’s right, the argument of Leggings vs Shorts can be rendered moot by this simple solution. Many choose to wear leggings or tights beneath shorts so that you gain the cumulative benefits of both.

However, just as you gain the benefits of both, you also gain the negatives of both, which means there are some strong cons you’ll have to deal with. To begin, let’s look at some of the benefits.

Based on the three categories above, which give reasons why one might be better than the other, we can also see why the two together can work wonders to overcome the weaknesses of the other. For example, the lack of convenient pockets on leggings can be overcome by having pocketed shorts worn over them.

Another balance comes from the protection granted by leggings. Wearing shorts means you are vulnerable to the cold and elements, and running in windy conditions can sting thanks to gravel or sand, but tights under your shorts prevent this.

However, the main downside is that you will also suffer double the negatives. The main issue comes from comfort. Wearing double layers means you get hot very quickly, and you also suffer from double the bunching.

Final Thoughts

So to conclude, the pros and cons end up breaking pretty even. You’ll have to decide for yourself which option is best and most comfortable for you.

Nicho Mauricio

Running wasn't always my favorite sport. I was a CrossFit athlete and I loved every bit of it. But since the pandemic began, I was forced to stay away from the gym and train at home instead. Things got boring. That's when I decided to trail run with my friends. I instantly got hooked. So I started training and researching all things running. As a beginner, I want to buy only the best running gear and do only the best practices. This blog is where I share what I've learned in my journey and my experiences as a runner.

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