Running with Boobs: A Tale of Challenge and Triumph

Sometimes it can feel like I am wearing a boob scarf. Enter finding the RIGHT sports bra.

Sometimes it can feel like I am wearing a boob scarf. Enter finding the RIGHT sports bra.

Boobs, they're everywhere. No, really, they're everywhere when I am running if I am not wearing the right sports bra. Usually I wouldn't take on such a "provocative" topic, but it is a topic that I am all too familiar with. After a couple of terrible runs in inadequate bras, I realized that I would need to pony up the dough in order to support the girls. What makes it even harder is that most sports apparel companies cater to the smaller-chested set, making it even more discouraging to find the right bra without breaking the bank. Learn from my mistakes and find the best bra for you!

The worst run I ever had was an eight mile run last Summer when I was training for the Portland Marathon. I took a chance on wearing a Nike Pro Women’s Sports Bra. My one bra wasn’t clean and I decided to just go for it and get my run in. I cannot even accurately explain what a big mistake that was. I ended up with chafing that made my most hardened runner friends flinch in pain and disgust. The top of my stomach was completely raw and exposed – no skin, it was about an eight inch long area where the skin just ceased to exist. There was also nipple chafing and other “hot spots” of rawness. The worst part? I didn’t really fully know how bad it was until I hopped into my post-run shower. YOWCH.

A winner for many, not so much for me.

A winner for many, not so much for me.

After I took care of my wounds I decided to get serious about finding the right bra for me. I did not want to get into the marathon without the exact right gear. I started out with a Moving Comfort Juno bra and found that I had to change sizes once over. I again, even with 2toms Sport Shield (my most favorite anti-chafing gel, ever), found that I was experiencing some chafing due to the heavy duty seams of this bra. It is a great structured bra that made me feel “in there” but I had to keep looking.

It was time to bring out the big guns and get myself down to a vendor that understood boobs. I headed down to Title Nine in the Pearl District at the suggestion of a friend. I was nervous to ask for help and almost felt embarrassed. I don’t look like the picture of a running woman that I have in my head and that I see in magazines, so I always fear that I will go into a store like that and they’ll be like “you run???”.

But, as we all know, that thought process is totally bunk and the staff at Title Nine get that. They welcomed me in, were extremely friendly, and really wanted to help me find the perfect bra. What was even cooler was the staff there were women of all shapes and sizes that were into all kinds of physical activity. They test their own products out, so they’re also extremely knowledgeable beyond price points and colors. They know how the products feel.

I tried several bras from them and ended up in the Unshockingly Shocking bra from New Balance. This bra

We have a winner! The Shockingly Unshocking Bra from New Balance.

We have a winner! The Shockingly Unshocking Bra from New Balance.

came in colors (fun colors are hard to find when you’re large breasted) and had a great price point of $47.99. They reassured me that if it didn’t work out that I could bring it back and get something else or get a refund, sold.

I have been wearing this same bra for my workouts ever since and have had no chafing and the bra is unstructured enough that it feels like a “normal bra” that anyone would wear. The straps are adjustable  and the fabric is extremely breathable. Winner!

I see a lot of posts on message boards about the woes of large chested women runners and I hate the thought that boobs are keeping anyone from running like the wind. Stop into a specialty shop like Title Nine, The Pencil Test, or Just Like a Woman and let them help you find the perfect bra. .

Here’s to minimized racks and no chafing! Cheers!

2 Comments on Running with Boobs: A Tale of Challenge and Triumph

  1. As a Larger Chested woman myself, I also recommend shopping around. Moving Comfort Junos work great for me, but it is body shape dependant. It’s why there are so many great shoes- but the shape of a person’s feet might have one person loving one over another. Our chest and bodies are shaped differently to so different bras may work awesome for one person and not another. Definitely shop at a place that has a customer guarentee after use. You may pay $50, but isn’t that security worth it? And this piece is just as important as shoes! (BTW I don’t believe Nike KNOWS how to make Bras for larger women (C+)- they didn’t work for me either)

  2. Moving Comfort Maia for me, and I’ve never had a chafing issue, ever.

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