(nasty remarks are not welcome here.)
Being a female runner comes with a very special (embarrassing. uncomfortable.) set of experiences. We have to account for kids, work, husbands, school, dishes, our period, our moods, and yes…boobs. (get it? set?…har har).
Before we get into the sports bra section, let’s talk about periods and babies. Yes, you can run while menstruating; if you wear a pad, a snug set of bike shorts under your shorts, skirt, or pants will make you nice and comfy. If you use tampons, there are super-duper ones that are specifically made for athletes. For pregnancy, the hard and fast rule is always ask your doctor. I couldn’t run while I was pregnant because all three of my kids tried to be born way too early. Doc said that shaking my uterus around like a Heinz ketchup bottle was a bad idea. However, if you are athletic before you get pregnant, there’s a great chance your doctor will clear you to run. You pay your OB good money; follow his/her advice.
Because breasts consist of a lot of fat and tiny mammary glands they are, by nature, soft. This means they are pliable. This means you need to provide a safe, secure place for them to live. A good sports bra will provide the habitat required to keep your girls snug and will make the difference in whether or not you hate or love to run. Be advised: if you hate your sports bra you will hate to run.
There are different bras for different sports and activities. If you’re going to do yoga, you will not require the same support (or price tag) as a bra required for high impact sports like running. Pay attention to the bras’ tags as you shop, as most will indicate the sports or impact level they are designed for.
Sports bras come in all shapes, sizes, colors, textures, and prices. Cheap does not mean bad, but it probably means it won’t last very long. When you go shopping for your new favorite running buddies, allot at least 2 hours. Try on at least three: one that says it’s your size, one size smaller, and one size bigger. Also, the time of the month will make a difference in fit. If you can, make a trip to the store twice during your cycle; breasts are famous (ugh! ouch!) for changing size from week to week.
When you go shopping for your bra, don’t immediately head to your nearest running store. Try Macy’s or JCPenney’s, too. They have (female) staff in their departments that are trained to measure properly, will be patient with you, and help you to feel special and comfortable while you try on their products. You’d be surprised at the selection Dillard’s lingerie department contains; last time I was there, they had four whole racks of nothing but sports bras. (he he…I said racks…) If you find yourself in a store, department or running, where the staff are impatient or rude for any reason, please leave. Please let them know why you’re leaving. Some men (and women, for that matter) who work in running stores can be down-right ridiculous. If they want your money (and your friends’ money), they should be nice to you.
You can order your bras online, but I recommend purchasing at least one from a brick and mortar store near you first. This way, you can wear it a couple of times and be sure it’s a good match for you. After you’ve found one that you love, then you can begin to hunt online for deals and you’ll have a much better idea of what it is you’re looking for. For obvious reasons, there are no returns on bras for most cases. (Title 9 has a return policy that’s nice, though.)
If you think your boobs are just too big for you to find a sports bra that fits, you are wrong, shipmate. I have a friend who wears a 44DDD or F. Girlfriend…if SHE can find a bra, you’ve got zero excuses. (this same friend is training for a half marathon with me. she’s taking her girls with her for 13.1 miles. you can get off your butt and take your girls out for a mile or two.) She found a bra from Enelle that fits her (size 5 on their charts) and she loves it. She says it makes her feel comfortable and confident. …I really don’t know of anything more you could hope to want from your sports bra.)
You will end up spending as much or more on your bra as you will on your shoes, initially. However, as running shoes require replacement after about 350 road miles, your bra will last you thousands of miles if you treat it properly. Wash them in cold water, gently cycle, NO DRYER. There are several really good brands of washing liquid meant for sports’ clothing, but I just use my home made stuff and it works great (probably because of the amount of baking soda). Love your bra, and it will love you. …but not in a creepy “Sleeping with the Enemy” sort of way…
The point of all this is to say that you should never let being a woman get in the way of the fact that you are an athlete. Embrace your femininity (I can never say that out loud…feminininity. femnininiin… oh, forget it.) and know that when you step out the door to exercise, you are making yourself stronger, more beautiful, more womanly than if you were just sitting on the couch or even fixing your hair. A strong woman is a beautiful woman. Women have curves, we have soft spots, we have a toughness that only the animals understand.
We are Woman. Hear us roar.