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Best Women’s Running Shorts for Marathon

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When training for a marathon, the right pair of shorts are almost as important as the right running shoes! There are lots of fits, fabrics and features (not to mention colors!) to choose from when it comes to running shorts. But, when training for or running a marathon (or just long runs), there are very specific things I look for in a pair of shorts that can go the (26.2.) distance. Today, I’m sharing the best women’s running shorts for a marathon.

Best Women’s Running Shorts For Marathon

My must-haves for marathon shorts:
  • Fitted to prevent chafing – I find chafing is almost non-existent with fitted shorts, especially if they have a longer inseam. However, this is a relatively new must-have since I wasn’t comfortable in fitted shorts for years. Previously I ran races in loose shorts, so I included the styles I ran in before I became a fitted short convert. You may find that some shorts in this style are called bike shorts. I find that generally, they’re the same. However, make sure they are not dedicated biking shorts with padding.
  • Ample storage for gels – I never use gels provided at a race, so I have to carry my own. I like side pockets for these for easy access without needing to unzip a pocket.
  • A zipper pocket to hold my hotel key and credit cards. Sometimes I travel to races solo and I need to make sure my keys don’t fall out.
  • Not too tight on the waist – I don’t want anything digging into my waist. I find stretchy, flat waistbands more comfortable than the style of elastic waistbands that scrunch. But there are a few pairs of that style that I’ve found comfortable that you’ll see below.
  • Not too high rise – While I love high rise jeans, I hate anything too high when I’m running. I go for something right around my belly button, which is usually mid-rise or high-rise but not super high rise (which is an option with some brands).
  • Back pocket for iPhone – I don’t always race with my phone but if you do, make sure you have a pair with a pocket that holds your phone without bouncing.
  • Moisture Wicking Fabric – So important when you’re sweating a lot and for all warm weather running.

Alright, let’s get into some of my picks for running shorts for women!

Best Overall: Lululemon Fast & Free Shorts

The Lululemon Fast & Free 6″ shorts check every must-have box for me. I first got hooked on the Fast & Free leggings when training for the 2018 and 2019 Boston Marathon, so when they rolled out the shorts, I snatched up a pair. They’re, naturally, like short tights style shorts with the perfect range of motion, but keep me cooler for warmer days or longer runs. (Keeping your core warm is the most important thing for even cold running, so you’ll see me in this vest when it’s 35-45 degrees.) And they’re perfect for chafe free running.

Similar to the leggings, the shorts have lots of storage for gels and a pocket to hold my phone without bouncing. The wide, flat waistband never digs in. I like the 6″ inseam best since it really protects against chafing without being too long or too short. I also love that these are high waisted and super high quality.

Just a heads up that these will feel VERY tight when you first pull them on, but they do fit true to size with my usual Lululemon bottoms size (I wear a 4). The main thing is to make sure the waistband isn’t sagging or digging in. It should be comfortable. These have not stretched over over time, at all, and I’ve had multiple pair and run hundreds of miles in each so I wouldn’t size down either!

These shorts feature everything I need:


  • Cost: $68
  • Very lightweight
  • Quick-drying, sweat-wicking and breathable
  • Two side drop-in pockets fit your gels, hotel key, and/or car key
  • Five waistband pockets, including one to hold your phone without bouncing
  • The tighter waistband and continuous drawcord help keep your leggings in place so you don’t have to pull them up mid-run
  • Reflective detailing on the back is great for running in the dark.
  • Multiple inseam options:

Oiselle makes a similar pair, the Pocket Jogger Shorts (more on those below). In short, the fabric is much thicker and can get quite hot if you’re running in the warmer months. They also don’t stay as dry as the Lululemon Fast & Free shorts. (I did, however, much prefer the Oiselle Pocket Jogger Shorts while running during pregnancy since the waistband has more give to it!)

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Outfit linked here

Best Budget Pick: Senita Rio Shorts

I wore this pair of shorts for the 2019 Boston Marathon. They’re very similar to the Lululemon Fast & Free shorts in terms of features, but the material is slightly heavier and doesn’t have a zip pocket, which is why it is my second pick.

Details on this pair

  • Cost: Only $22!
  • Side pockets to stash your phone, keys, or snacks
  • Multiple inseam options: 3.75″ (what I’m wearing below), 5″ and 7″

Senita Rio Shorts | Best Womens Running Shorts For Marathon

Best Non-Fitted Pair: Lululemon Track That Short 5″

I wore these shorts for the 2018 Boston Marathon in the the longer 5″ inseam to prevent chafing in a torrential rainstorm. But, I don’t love where the pockets are placed (closer to the front), so I still had to carry my gels in a Spibelt, which is cumbersome to mess with mid-run. I wish instead they had a back waistband pocket. Remember those Nike Tempo shorts everyone had for years? These are like the grown up version.

Details on this pair

  • Cost: $58
  • Mid Rise, 5″ Length
  • Soft built-in liner is quick-drying and sweat-wicking
  • Continuous drawcord won’t get lost in the wash
  • Side zippered pocket
  • Multiple inseam options:

Lululemon Track That Short 5" | Best Womens Running Shorts For Marathon

Oiselle OG Distance Shorts 

The OG Distance Shorts from Oiselle are similar to the Lululemon Track That short. They both have wide elasticated waistbands, but I like the Lululemon Track That shorts a bit more for the 5″ inseam.

Details on this pair

  • Cost: $54
  • Infinity drawcord
  • Built-in technical liner
  • Side zip pocket
  • Rear zip pocket
  • 3.25 inch inseam (all sizes)

Honorable Mention: Athleta Mesh Racer Run Short

I discovered this pair last summer and fell in love with them. I like them better than the Lululemon pair below, and ended up getting a few more pairs once I tried them on. They’re a great 4″ length, and they do have zip pockets. But I don’t love where the pockets are placed, so that’s the only downside. I haven’t run long races in these, but I’d imagine they’re great since I wear them for daily runs every week. They’re a blend of recycled polyester and spandex. I typically wear a 4 in Lululemon shorts, and I wear an XS in these for reference.

Details on this pair

  • Cost: $49
  • Zippered size pocket
  • Hidden car or house key envelope pocket (great for gel storage)
  • Continuous drawcord
  • Built-in liner offers extra coverage
  • Inseam: 4″

marathon shorts for women

Outfit details here

Honorable Mention: Lululemon Speed Up Short 

These shorts are classic for a reason! They’re lightweight, flattering and come in multiple inseams and rises. The downside is that they don’t have much storage for GUs without side pockets. But if you use gels provided on the course, it may not be a big deal for you.

Details on this pair

  • Cost: $58
  • Zippered back pocket
  • Connected gel pockets on the waistband gives you flexible storage options
  • Continuous drawcord
  • Built-in liner offers extra coverage
  • Inseam: available in 2.5″ and 4″
  • Also available in high rise, if you prefer that

running Shorts review

Honorable Mention: Oiselle Rogas

These shorts are really great and similar to the Lululemon Speed Up Short. They come in a variety of lengths, styles and patterns.

Details on this pair

  • Cost: $58
  • Interior drawcord
  • Built-in technical liner
  • Rear zip waist pocket
  • Four way stretch for full motion
  • 4″ inseam is my pick, but they do have longer and shorter options. My mom loves the Long Roga Short with a 6″ inseam and some of my friends love the Mac Roga, which has a 1.75″ inseam.

They also have a Toolbelt Roga option which I think would probably be a GREAT option for marathons with lots of storage. I haven’t tried them so I can’t personally vouch for them!

Oiselle Rogas shorts

Honorable Mention: Oiselle pocket Joggers

I love these as well, but they are heavier than the Lululemon Fast & Free and stretch out more overtime. They are compression shorts, but don’t feel nearly as tight as the Fast & Free. I wore these a lot during my first trimester of pregnancy running since they had more give in the waistband than the Fast & Free shorts. I can wear both a size 2 and a size 4 in the pocket joggers so if you like a slightly looser fit, size up.

Details on this pair

  • Cost: $62
  • Interior drawcord
  • Rear side mesh pockets
  • Rear zip waist pocket
  • 2 leg pockets that fit phone
  • Wide waistband
  • 4.75″ inseam is my go-to but they have other lengths

pregnancy running outfit

Do you have a favorite pair of running shorts for races or marathons specifically?

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    One response to “Best Women’s Running Shorts for Marathon”

    1. Thank you for these recommendations. Just a heads up, most of the Lululemon prices have gone up about 20% (almost all of its shorts now start at $68).

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