Can You Run in Cycling Shorts? (What they don’t tell you)

Cycling shorts are for cycling, running shorts are for running. But every now and then, there’s a need to run in cycling shorts. I have tried it myself, and you probably wonder how it was.

You can run shorter distances in cycling shorts. For longer distances, it is advisable to use running shorts or a triathlon suit, which are more suitable for running. The padding on cycling shorts starts to chafe the inner thigh after a while, especially if it is wet from the previous swim.

If you were running in cycling shorts, you certainly wouldn’t be the first to do it. However, depending on the run’s distance, it makes sense to consider a different type of shorts. Below I will outline all the possible alternatives.

Looking for shorts that you can cycle and run in? You can find them here.

Are cycling shorts suitable for running?

If you’re training for your first triathlon or just want to start running but don’t have the right equipment, you might have thought about wearing cycling shorts for your run.

That’s not a bad idea, as cycling shorts share many characteristics with running shorts, making them a sensible choice:

  • Aerodynamics. The elastic material ensures that the shorts are as tight as possible and consequently reduces wind resistance.
  • Moisture wicking. The material wicks moisture away from the body and keeps the skin dry, reducing chafing.

Unfortunately, cycling shorts have one major drawback when it comes to running, which is why many people avoid them.

Cycling shorts have padding, which is indispensable and very welcome on a bike, but a huge nuisance when running. The padding is useless when running, and the edge causes much chafing on the inner thigh.

The thicker the padding, the more uncomfortable the run.

Chafing is not a problem at shorter distances as the run is over before it becomes painful. However, after a certain distance, the problem starts to increase exponentially. The irritated skin becomes increasingly sensitive, and if the run is not completed in time, the padding can also cause bloody abrasions.

Vaseline or baby cream can reduce chafing to some degree and increase the time of a comfortable run, but even this is only a temporary solution. Over time, the cream will soak into the skin or the padding and chafing will start.

Problems caused by cycling shorts when running

If you will use cycling shorts for running, then be prepared to deal with some problems.


Chafing is the biggest threat when running in cycling shorts. It’s almost inevitable over longer distances (8 miles or more), as the edge of the padding rubs the same area over and over again, which eventually becomes sore.

Even a slight chafe can cause uncomfortable itching during running. And when the abrasion becomes bloody, the running becomes even harder.

A bloody abrasion starts to burn strongly when it comes into contact with sweat, and at the same time, it can become infected, leaving you with consequences for several days to come. The wound also develops a scab over time, which you’ll rub off every time you go cycling or running.

Slower running

One of the aspects that many people overlook when they decide to run in cycling shorts is that they will be slower.

If you have ever walked in uncomfortable trousers, you probably know you have changed your walking technique to increase comfort.

The same applies to running.

You will change your running technique if you’re running in cycling shorts. In the first few miles, maybe not yet, but as time passes, as the chafing increase, you will run wider, trying to move the thighs away from the shorts.

The changed technique will slow you down, and in the long run, it will also make you more tired. You’ll activate the untrained muscles, which tire quicker, resulting in a slower pace and a loss of valuable time.

Strange appearance

I’m more of a cyclist than a runner, so I know I care about how I look when I cycle. I don’t know if runners also care about their appearance, but I know I want to look at least decent when I go for a run.

Let’s be clear about something. When you run in cycling shorts, you don’t look good.

The large padding on your bottom is visible from miles away. You look (and feel, I might add) like you are running with a diaper on. If you don’t care what others think, good for you. Run in cycling shorts. And if you do care, consider investing in running shorts or a triathlete’s suit. It simply looks better.

Inflammation of the intimate parts

Inflammation of the private parts is a real threat, especially during triathlon events. These start with swimming, during which the padding of the cycling shorts becomes soaked. Due to its thickness (up to 13 mm), it dries for a very long time, practically for the whole cycling part and possibly the whole running part.

When the water in the pad starts to mix with sweat, bacteria start to develop. I wrote more about this in a blog you might want to read. Prolonged contact with the pad, especially for girls, can lead to bacterial infections of the private parts.

Alternatives to cycling shorts for running

Cycling shorts are not the optimal choice for running. Now and then, you have to compromise and cycle in running shorts or run in cycling shorts. Especially for running, there are much better alternatives than cycling shorts.

Running shorts

It’s no surprise that running shorts are the best choice for running. Well done Luka, you really are a genius.

Let me explain why I suggest running shorts.

If you have to cycle and run in the same training or race, I suggest you choose running shorts rather than cycling shorts.

If you are used to cycling, your butt is stiffened to the extent that you will be able to cycle 20 to 30 miles without padding. Even if your butt hurts a bit at the end of the cycling, that won’t be a problem when running. You will still lose less time this way than running with cycling shorts on.

So, if you choose running shorts, you will run much faster and more comfortably than in cycling shorts. You will also be quite tired when you start your run, so a little thing like a comfortable pair of shorts can give you some much-needed motivation.

Running shorts are quite affordable. You can find them on Amazon for less than 30 dollars. Invest in one!

Tri suit

The best choice for anyone who has to switch between cycling and running is a triathlon suit.

The triathlon bib has sewn-in padding that is much thinner and smaller than in cycling shorts. This makes it slightly less effective on the bike but all the more comfortable when running.

The triathlon suit offers the ideal compromise for anyone considering cycling and running. It is quite affordable on Amazon if you are not prepared to spend too much on it.

Cycling shorts with removable padding

A clever solution many cycling clothing manufacturers have not yet recognized is cycling shorts with removable padding.

It’s exactly what it sounds like.

The tight-fitting stretch shorts have thin padding on the outside, attached by a strap, over the entire area between the legs. At the end of your bike ride, the padding comes off, and you wear your normal running shorts for a smooth run.

Unfortunately, most of these shorts are currently only available for women.

Luka Stular

Hi, my name is Luka. I fell in love with cycling back in 2014 when I broke my leg in the summer. The peak of my day was watching Tour de France, and soon I was hooked. Later I bought my first road bike, and now we're here.

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