Lululemon’s Speed (Up) Shorts, Explained

Back in 2018, lululemon did a silly thing and retired the beloved Speed Short for a newer, slightly tweaked design, the Speed Up Short. When my workout routine consisted of far more CrossFit WODs and far less long distance mileage, I amassed a decent sized pile of shorts over a few years.

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From L-R: Run Times Short, Speed Up Short *Long Updated Fit, Speed Short, Speed Short *Hi-Rise, Speed Up Short

Seeing that I had plenty, I didn’t race to buy a pair of Speed Ups as they dropped, so my first encounter was with the 2018 Seawheeze Special Edition Runner Shorts. Unimpressed by 2016 & 2017’s designs, last year was the first of my 3 wheezin’ years that I’d actually detagged the shorts and put them into the rotation.

Doing a spiderman stretch at CrossFit on the first day I wore them, I couldn’t help but feel a little embarrassed for the person behind me as I felt my rear end less covered than it (kind of) was in an older pair of Speeds. The leg holes felt far more… OPEN in the Speed Up Shorts than they had in the older version.

Despite the ‘freedom’, and that I needed new shorts like I needed a hole in the head, I really wanted to get my hands on a classic red. So, I ordered the Speed Ups when flamenco red uploaded last summer.

Spoiler Alert: the Speed Up Short did NOT work for me as much as I’d hoped. My lululemon running shorts purchasing came to a screeching halt.

With the release of the Speed Up Short Long 4″ Updated Fit last week, I felt like I had to give the longer length a try… and figure out how in the world they were different enough from all the other shorts to justify keeping them. So, without further ado, it’s time for a side by side by side by side by side of some of lululemon’s most popular running shorts:

NOTE: I’m 5’9″ and wearing a TTS 10 in every pair of shorts pictured in this post.


HEAD ON

The Updated Speed Ups look a bit more old school speedy from the front. Some people didn’t like how the Speed Short seemed to flare out to the side, so that was tweaked for the new design.

Otherwise, it’s pretty status quo from the front. A very clean look that remains seam-free in the Speed variety, yet shows a little in the Run Times.


THE RISE

The Updated Fit features a ‘higher’ rise, but does not qualify as an officially high rise like the jet stream pair (below, middle).

Laid one on top of the other with the hip seams all at the same level, the Updated Speed Ups split the difference between regular and high rise almost exactly down the middle.


REAR VIEW

Speeds & Speed Ups are rounded, the Run Times have more of a square look to them.


FROM THE SIDE

The Updated Fit is slightly reminiscent of Speeds when you start to move around. I feel too much of a breeze whenever I take a step forward or squat in the Speed Up.


INSEAM

The Updated Speed Ups and the Run Times both feature a 4″ inseam, the other three options have a 2.5″ inseam. I get chub rub therefore don’t actually RUN in my short lululemon shorts.

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Top: Speed Up Short / Bottom: Speed Up Short *Long Updated Fit

Given the weather and no real patience for trying something new while training for my next half marathon, I have done little more than a jog across the living room in the Run Times and Updated Fit to see if they will ride up. I’ll give them both a mailbox jog as soon as the weather dries out and warms up for more than 12 minutes. At this rate, it will be August. Currently 39 degrees and rainy on May 13th.


SPEED UP LONG/UPDATED VS RUN TIMES II

If you’re looking for a more conservative short with more length, the most noticeable difference between the Updated and the Run Times when wearing them is the rise. The Run Times Short II only rises up as far as the traditional Speed Up & Speed Short fit.

The leg hole on the Speed Up Long/Updated is a bit more accommodating than the Run Times II. If you think of yourself as a Quadzilla, the Speed Updated may be your best bet.


SPEED UP SHORT – DOUBLE VS SINGLE LAYER

I feel the need to include these photos, because I really didn’t dislike the Speed Ups when I received the Seawheeze pair last spring. It was only when I got the flamenco red ones last summer that I realized the new cut worked well with a heavier fabric, but fluffed up and looked silly when a lighter fabric was in play.

The fabric puffs out from the waistband, making the hips look boxier than the old school Speed Shorts did, which I simply couldn’t get over. I’ve not worn the flamenco red Speed Ups since August, and TBH now that I have the Updated version, they are about to find a home in my Poshmark closet until it finds its new home.


SPEED UP vs SPEED UP LONG/UPDATED

You’re getting more shorts in all aspects of the design, except for the hip width. Stay with your usual Speed (Up) size if you’re going to give the longer updated version a go. They come down a little farther, rise a little higher, but they’re still going to fit the same throughout the hip.


LONG STORY SHORT ON THE SHORTS

So after spending Sunday morning prancing around the house in SIX different pairs of shorts…

  • I picked up the Run Times II for the longer inseam, but I still would have loved a slightly higher rise due to my height. The Speed Up Short *Long/Updated fixes this problem.
  • I still like how the Hi-Rise Speed Short feels the best, but if I wear them to CrossFit the waistband risks interfering with my weight belt, so the Updated Fit wins a point for being a happy medium once again.
  • The Speed Ups as they are right now provide a bit too much freedom for my tastes, and will likely only be worn around the house or very hot CrossFit days when I won’t be running or bending over a ton.
  • I miss the Speed Shorts in their OG incarnation.
  • HOWEVER, I can see myself adding another pair of Speed Up *Long/Updated to my collection real f*cking quick. They will make amazing hiking shorts. 😁

This post is meant to be a fine piece of educational, hard-hitting journalism (ha!) so if there are any questions you may have that I didn’t cover in this post, drop them in the comments below!

11:16p and I’m still wide awake. DAMN YOU, 3:46PM STARBUCKS AMERICANO.


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17 comments

  1. I tried on the speed up longs in the updated fit this weekend. They were certainly MUCH better than their 2.5” inseam counterpart, but I still love my OG speeds the best. I left them at the store (even though I had the option of taking them home for FREE – I picked a swift SS instead) since they only had basic black in stock and I will just wear my trusty black speeds instead. Lulu should just listen to the comments and bring back the old speeds. They are simply more flattering than the speed ups. At least this saves me money!

    • I wish I could say the switch to Speed Ups has saved me money. I’m certainly buying less shorts than I used to, but instead I’ve become a convert to the Fast & Free Crops which are TWICE the cost of a single pair of shorts. Lululemon still wins 😂

  2. I used to rely on the Run Times shorts for crossfit; I felt more covered up. I would go with the old Speeds from time to time though when I was feeling particularly fit. 🙂 The Speed Ups on the other hand- no go. I was in the best shape of my life last summer, competing in long distance trail racing and crossfit, and they just felt like I was wearing swim bottoms. Excited to try the Speed Ups Long Updated, but I’m a shortie so I wonder how the higher rise will go over. Thanks for the review! Ordering now…!

    • Hopefully they work out for you! Same same on the Speed Ups, I’ve only worn them to CrossFit when I’m having a skinny day and it’s 90+ degrees out. I just don’t feel as covered up as I did in the Speeds. Freedom of movement yeah ok but also freedom of feeling like I might as well be working out in Boogie Shorts.

  3. Great post and good info to have for those unsure by the changes made to these shorts. I don’t think LLL should have changed the fit of these two shorts but they seem determined to either discontinue or revamp original iconic product, i.e. Dance Studio Pants & Street To Studios!!! I absolutely love my original Run Times, they have been my go to running shorts since they first came out after the Groovy Run Short was discontinued. The newer version Run Times ll are a total bust for me and I won’t buy them so thank goodness I have a good supply of the originals. I haven’t tried on the Speed Up Long shorts but in your pictures they look longer than the Run Times ll which have the same 4″ inseam. When I tried on the Run Times ll they did look shorter in length than my originals but because I didn’t take them home I wasn’t able to compare them. Just lifting and bending my leg I could feel the leg hole was narrower and the fabric bunched and rode up and I knew immediately I wouldn’t want to run in these shorts. I also thought the fabric was thinner, did you notice this? I am so disappointed in LLL these days because they can’t seem to design anything new that would stack up against original designs so they just mess with what doesn’t need messing with!

    • I didn’t notice any difference in the Run Times vs Speed Up Fabric, but I did feel the same that the leg hole on the RT is certainly narrower than the updated Speeds. It will be interesting to see how they move around to accommodate running, jumping and squatting as I mix my workouts up after my next race.

      Unfortunately I think that lulu is often making updates using the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” method of addressing feedback. If anyone buys a product they’re dissatisfied with, any product page has a review section which is open season for unhappy shoppers. I generally don’t think twice about running to let the internet know when I’m reasonably satisfied with something. I have to think that there are people out there who were lobbying for the Speed Up changes… except now to shut them up lululemon has awoken the beasts inside us OG Speed Short lovers who were quietly happy for VERY MANY YEARS.

      Now that we’ve had over a year with the new design I’m curious to see how Speed Up sales compare to how Speeds used to sell.

    • I’m quite the Body Glide and Foot Glide lover for running now, I’m still unsure if I am willing to sacrifice compression for a feeling of FREEDOOOMMMM when I run. Will have to give it a go once it warms up outside!

  4. This is the best post I’ve ever seen on the different shorts! Very helpful and easy to see some of the differences/similarities. I tried the Updated Speed Up Longs this weekend and I found that I was able to size down in them, as compared to my usual Run Times size. I think it was because of the leg opening differences that you mentioned. I did like them, but they didn’t have the print I was looking for. I do plan to buy some soon though!

    • Thanks Stacy! I do agree that the Speed Up Longs felt slightly more accommodating than the Run Times II, but not enough to warrant a size down for me.

      I’m excited for this new fit and would like to buy more, so I’m hoping they become a mainstay (as opposed to the Hi-Rise Speed flash in the pan). This way, I can start working more shorts back into my workout wardrobe over the summer!

  5. I have had the issue of a lot of the shorts riding up while hiking or doing intense exercise. Have you had this issue? Any suggestions?

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