Syracuse Online


Dr. J. on Running

Dress Code

Runner in Tight Spot

Published Jul 23, 2001 in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

The room was still dark when I packed my gym bag. A clear sky and a bright sunrise ushered a glorious day for running. I drove east to spend a day at the research laboratory. At noon, the road called me. I broke from work and headed towards the lockers. I changed into a T-shirt and proceeded to put on my shorts. Alas, they stopped at my knees.

I took them off and checked the label. They were two sizes too small for me. I must have accidentally packed my daughter's shorts. I sat on the locker room bench and contemplated my options. I could return to work without a run. I could indulge in a big lunch. The road called again. I had to run. I stared at the tiny shorts in search of an answer.

I knew I could swallow my gut if I could pull the shorts up to my waist. Heroically, I pulled them past the knees, but only to get stuck at the thighs. A generous smothering of sunscreen lotion allowed me to move them another foot. As I invoked visions of Tootsie, certain anatomical properties prevented further progress. The shorts were firmly glued in place well south of my navel.

A noontime run would still be possible if I could move my legs. As officers and enlisted men alike gave me looks, I proceeded cautiously out of the gym towards the road. Ignoring car horns and pedestrian stares, I went about the business of running. Unable to breathe from the stomach, I quickly learned to breathe through my lungs.

A running buddy appeared out of nowhere and joined me for a few steps. Noticing my predicament and battling laughter to keep his balance, he quickly took leave of my company and headed for the trails, on the excuse of getting out of the sun. Or was it the moon that he was evading?

Forty minutes later, I returned to the gym. My unnatural gait created blisters in both feet. With a final burst of energy, I peeled off the tiny shorts. I felt my guts expand rapidly back to their resting state. I took a deep breath to rearrange my interiors, and headed for the showers. A co-worker commented on my patriotic red and blue around-the-hip tattoo.

As the day ended without further incident, and normal blood circulation returned to my lower body, I donned large pajamas for cover. I thought it wise to pack my gym bag in broad daylight from then on. I neatly folded my T-shirt and towel, picked matching socks and headband, inserted my orthotics into my shoes, and carefully noted the number of X's on the shorts' label.

Kamal Jabbour is none the worse from his ordeal. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at

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