Monday, 30 April 2012

Only in Your Underwear

It's about this time in my running programme that my thoughts normally turn to that most tricky of subjects. Yes, pants.

If you're of a nervous disposition around conversations relating to underwear, you may wish to bow out now. Go on, off you go, I'm sure there's some football on.

Football underwear! Would you look at that...

Right, pants. Now pants aren't something I normally give a huge amount of thought. They're either there, or they're not. (You'll be happy to hear that mostly they are.) But when you get to a certain stage in your running, your choice of pant becomes quite important.

The ideal is to try to find a longer legged trunk, as this provides a protective barrier between your fat thighs, thereby stopping them rubbing together like fleshy sandpaper. Trouble is, however long the picture on the packet makes the legs look, they never actually come down beyond 80's Speedo length. This poses a problem when starting to run for any significant amount of time, as I have just begun to do this week. If you dare to be even slightly deficient in the pant-leg department, there's a whole wonderful world of pain and embarrassment which awaits.

Nope, these still won't be long enough.

The problem first announces itself with a tiny sting in the inner thigh area, about 15 minutes into your hour's run, and it's at this point you realise that you're going to end up on the sex offenders' register before too long. The thing is, you see, that one of those lovely "legs" on the trunks which are supposedly protecting you from chafing horror, will invariably start to ride up and roll itself into a little sausage-shaped bundle of cotton in your running shorts. A fabric chipolata, if you will. A fabrolata.

The bigger your fabrolata, the more it rubs on your most intimate areas as you run along and the more it flipping well hurts. Easily as much as being stabbed in the eye. Therefore it's clearly not an option just to let it be - but what's the best way to resolve this problem? In my experience, there are three options for the poor runner who finds himself in the pant-leg-sausage predicament.

1. The Pocket Manoeuvre

This move is the most subtle, involving simply trying to pull down the leg of the trunks through the pocket of your shorts. You can disguise it to a certain extent by pretending to be fiddling with an imaginary or real iPod in your pocket, although unfortunately it takes quite a while to achieve with any great success and there's therefore more of a chance that someone will spot you and notice that you're spending rather a lot of time with your hand fiddling about in your pocket. That and looking really rather pleased with yourself once you're done. Not my preferred option.

Here we see James Bond attempt the double pocket manoeuvre
 in suitably suave fashion. See how stoic he looks in the face
 of horrific chafing trauma. 

2. The "Up and Under"

This move represents the middle way in both ease of execution and efficiency of results, as it involves reaching up the leg of your shorts to pull down your trunks from the inside. It's good in that in order to achieve this move you have no choice but to bend over slightly, which can help to mask what it is that you're doing. I think it's fair to say that you do look a bit of a tit bent double whilst trying to maintain your speed, though.

Probably the preferred method if possible, although it's best if there's no-one running directly behind you - nobody attempting the "Up and Under" wants to cast a sneaky glance back through their legs and spy a horrified looking lady reaching for her mobile to dial the police.

I couldn't find any pictures of anyone with their hand up their shorts.
 Instead we have the logo of "Up and Under Asset Management",
who will no doubt be extremely pleased to be associated with this blog.

3. The "No, I don't give a shit anymore, this is REALLY hurting now."

Sometimes, dear reader, you've tried all of the above, and nothing is quite hitting the spot. There is nothing for it at this point but to go right in there and sort it out with some direct action, and by that I mean sticking your hand down the front of your shorts and just fixing it once and for all. Yes, there's nothing quite as satisfying as your hand down your pants... and nothing so hard to achieve subtly.

It's one thing when you're out running in the open air, as there's bound to be some point along the way when you're not that close to any unsuspecting members of the public. Avoiding school chucking-out time for lengthy runs is also, for this reason, heartily recommended. Unfortunately, if you've decided to make this particular training session a gym-based one, there really is no good time to carry out this manoeuvre.

Look how happy she looks about her workout. I'm guessing her smile
 would fade upon seeing you rooting around in your boxers.

Equally unfortunately, there is sometimes no option. It's therefore important to position yourself carefully when choosing your treadmill - the ones right in the middle face the door so everyone is going to see your every move, and believe me, there's no way to make this not look dodgy from any angle. Off to the side, then, and if you can manage to position yourself between two big sweaty blokes then so much the better as they're less likely to look at you to start with, and even less so if you start delving into your nether regions. (There are male codes.) Besides, it's likely they've been through the same thing themselves and would just give you a knowing / approving nod if they caught you in the act.

This was the background to my last workout (yes, there was a point to this whole thing...). As much as it makes me feel like a real man, there's only so much rain running I can do, so I had to resort to the gym yesterday afternoon. I carefully chose my treadmill using the rules above and was quite happily moving into the second half of my 70-minute workout when I felt that unmistakable twinge in the trunk vicinity and knew I was in trouble. The guys who'd been working out either side of me as planned had moved a few minutes previously, to be replaced by two very proper-looking ladies who, to make matters worse, were friends and were intent on carrying on a conversation across me whilst running.

20 minutes remaining of my workout, and, options 1 and 2 already exhausted several times over, I found myself with no option but to move onto option 3. Luckily by this point, the ladies had tired of their chat and were very much 'In the zone', which afforded me the opportunity to perform a swift number 3 on my right leg. Looking shiftily from side to side, and seeing the lady on my right still engrossed in 'The Voice' whilst sprinting towards some imaginary finish line, I felt rather smug at the thought of getting away with it in style.

It was at this point that I realised that I was in that most tricky of situations, the 'Double Fabrolata'. Yes, my left pant also needed attention, so I had no option but to get right on with it and get it unrolled as soon as possible. Sneaking a quick glance to my left, I was pleased to realise that lady number two was also caught up in the exploits of old satsuma face Tom Jones, so decided to go for the swift 'in and out' action, all the while looking furtively leftwards to make sure I didn't get caught.

I bet he's never stuck his hand down his...
nah, what am I saying?

Now, the difference between my left and right arms is that one is usually wearing a watch. And the thing about a big chunky training watch is that it makes a swift mission into one's goolies more of a long, drawn out affair. Not that I'd thought of this, hence finding myself frantically trying to pull my hand out of my pants, as the watch got stuck in the waistband of my shorts, and my neighbour turned to say something to her friend. Finding myself looking shiftily into her eyes as I desperately tried to free my hand from my special place, I had no choice but to raise my eyebrows and smile, defeatedly, as if to say, "Yep, that just happened." 

I've often been compared to Mr. Bean, but never have I felt so much like people had a point. Oddly enough, the two ladies left shortly after this incident, though I'm sure there was no connection. I finished my run without further incident but feel like some kind of line may have been crossed with the good people of Nuffield Health Surbiton and suspect that however much it rains, I'll be doing the next few runs outside...

Why not help rehabilitate my reputation in the community with a few quid's donation to the Cure Parkinson's Trust?

Music for Pant Rummaging:

- The Housemartins - I Smell Winter
- iio - Rapture
- The Walker Brothers - Nite Flights (Simian Mobile Disco Mix)
- Camera Obscura - French Navy
- Mansun - I Can Only Disappoint U [sic]
- Rilo Kiley - Portions for Foxes
- Guillemots - Kriss Kross
- Moby -
- New Order - Round and Round '94
- The Killers - When You Were Young
- Lightning Seeds - Life's Too Short
- Faithless - I Want More
- Genesis - Match of the Day
- Saint Etienne - We're in the City
- Simian Mobile Disco - 10000 Horses Can't Be Wrong

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