I didn’t mean it to turn out this way. What I wanted to show was a picture of three different pieces of sports kit that can be used for “supporting” your breasts but when I looked again at the image I took last night, it became apparent that they looked more like inverted spiders (just go with me). Maybe it’s because Halloween is on my mind and all the Haribo-shaped ‘horror’ jelly sweets have blinkered my once so stylish sight. My failure, however, to take a decent pic of these sports bras (with socks stuffed up them to puff them up) should not distract from the real reason of this post. Yes, I wanted to talk to you about running and boobs.
Big, small, flat or perky, when it comes to those little sacks containing the mammary glands there’s one thing we ladies all need – a decent bra. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that for years I wore the wrong size bra. My experience as a rather well-developed teenager whose bra kept on coming unhooked at the back while I was walking along the corridors of school still plays on my mind. Let’s just say after making a constant effort to get myself measured every so often, I pretty much know the range of my bra sizes. My bra size depends on a number of factors, including whether I’m in training, what time of year it is, the time of the month, you know the drill.
So what has this got to do with sports bras? Well, up until the last few years I have been seriously neglecting my booby needs in the sporting field. It was not until I really started taking running more seriously that I realised the necessity for the right underarmour. I always thought that it was perfectly acceptable to pack my little handfuls away in a crop-style bra top (like the bottom one in the photo of spider bras above). I was wrong.
According to an article I found on Runner’s World, my boobs move up and down, side to side– around 33 percent in each direction, when I WALK. Turn this into a jog or run and this movement increases to 51 percent up and down, 22 percent side to side and 27 percent in and out . You don’t have to be a mathematician to work out that running equals a whole lot more jiggling. My little crop top could not stop them bouncing, let alone protect them from the mad figure of eight created by upping the pace.
While my bouncing boobs in my crop top was not uncomfortable (they’re only small handfuls remember), this constant up and down, side to side and in and out action was causing those fragile ligaments around my breasts to stretch permanently. And once they’ve stretched to capacity. I would have, yes you guessed it, saggy boobs for life. Now I’m not THAT vain (honest(. I rarely wear make-up to work and I’d rather get a run in than stand there preening myself in the gym mirror (not that there’s anything wrong in that – it’s just how I manage my time). But if through my own stupidity I have caused my boobs to touch my knees in later life, I would be pretty upset. Cue my mantra to always wear a sports bra when working out.
Once I started reading around the subject, I discovered that, just like the conditioner I put in my hair to keep it manageable and the moisturiser I use on my face to stop my skin from drying out, I would have to invest in some new pieces of kit – cue a sudden influx of sports bras in my wardrobe five years ago.
Charlie, over at The Runners Beans, has put together an awesome guide to sports bras, which you can read here. Rather than repeat her info, I’m just going to say that the two brands I and my puppies swear by are Shock Absorber and Freya Active. Here’s why:
With a thick back strap and racerback fastening, Shock Absorber’s Run Bra (second bra in my rather unfortunate photo above) really holds you in place. The Shock Absorber Run prevents bounce (and movement of any kind including the crazy figure of eight created by running). Made from a breathable fabric, it helps keep you cool. If, like me, you like to split your runs up, the Shock Absorber does dry relatively quickly so no more having to get into a soggy bra for that evening plod home. Priced at around £36.99, they don’t come cheap but it’s worth keeping an eye out on Sports Pursuit as they often have deals on Shock Absorber so you can stock up. In terms of sizing, it starts at 30A and goes up to 36F but as with everything, it’s worth trying them on first to ensure they feel comfortable and firmly in place. And as for lifespan, well, I guess it depends on how often you wear them. If, like me, you’re a running junkie, you’ll be lucky for one to last longer than six months. You can get them in all sorts of fancy colours depending on the season, including a rather fetching pink/purple at the mo.
A great alternative to Shock Absorber is the Freya Active Moulded Sports Bra. I was cynical at first, mainly because I’m not a huge fan of moulded cups (it feels too 70s Wonder Woman to me). That said, once I tried one on and bounced up and down in the changing room a few times, I really liked the fact that each of my breasts had its own cup to sit in. Again the fabric is completely breathable and you have the option to wear it as a racerback or bra. (I prefer the racerback as it feels extremely secure). In fact, I was so impressed by the feel of the Freya Active Moulded Sports Bra that I bought two! Now you don’t hear me say that very often. The black one did, however, see me through the Royal Parks Foundation Ultra (that’s 50K) without chafing or digging in. It was so comfortable that I didn’t have to worry about what I was wearing on that epic adventure. It’s still early days with the Freya Active bras, so I don’t know how long they’ll last but they are available in up to an H cup. One word of advice though: make sure you try on a Freya bra before you buy as you may discover that you have to go down a back size and up a cup or two to find the perfect fit.
How about you? What sports bras do you recommend? How are you helping to prevent the dreaded droop?