Starting from scratch in an elite fitness-blog-world full of expensive gear, and Personal Records she couldn't beat with a car.

Monday, December 3, 2012

We must, we must...

I've been wondering for months, what is with all the padded running bras?

I think I may have finally found my answer.

When I started running all I had in the way of sports bras were a fairly well aged three pack of Hane's cotton sports bras. These were pretty functional for yoga and belly dance practice, but as you can probably imagine not too awesome for running. The elastic had seen better days and the cotton held on to sweat like someone was gonna sell it on the black market afterward.

I replaced those early on with a pair of bras from Old Navy (this style in the colour shown and in a light purple with salmon accents) which I have been using regularly. I also bought a pair of bra core active tanks (this style but in black and grey - respectively) but for a couple of reasons I have not found them terribly useful up until, well actually today.

All of the Old Navy items came standard equipped with removable bust pads - which I promptly removed and shoved in the back of a drawer along with all of the pads I'd removed from my swimwear over the years.

I've always been on the *ahm* petite side. Think J-Lo-esque... without the firming benefits of all the personal trainers and professional dance background and oodles of money and stylists.  While I admit I haven't always been utterly thrilled by that fact, eventually I stopped being a self conscious teenager and embraced the positive aspects of my figure. Either way I've never seen much point in artificially altering it. The American over the shoulder boulder holder industry apparently thinks we are all yearning to let loose our inner Christina Hendricks, but a) variety is the spice of life and b) I REALLY LIKE that I can wear slinky backless dresses without resorting to uncomfortable and expensive hidden scaffolding.

I got what I got and if you don't like it feel free to look elsewhere. Nyah.

That goes double for workout clothing. I try not to look too much like a schlump in any context, but by the same token amorous interest is just about the last thing I want to deal with while working out in the gym or on the street. I'm there for MY benefit so I don't see the point of advertising, much less false advertising. In truth the Old Navy stuff has about as much "padding" as the average tee shirt bra so given the compression the effect is pretty neutral, but still the idea of it bothered me. Anyway running is sweaty work, why add extra layers between me and the air?

A couple of weeks ago I found out that I had won a giveaway from For The Love Of The Run and part of the giveaway was a bra from a company called Handful. I chose their adjustable style bra in purple size XS (I typically wear a 30 or 32 band size) and received it by mail a few days later. It came with a lovely matching mesh washing bag and... matching removable bust pads! In this case the internal pockets do make a great deal of sense as they are approved as mastectomy bras but I opted to yank out the pads as with my other bras. The pads are slightly thicker than the Old Navy ones but again with the compression effects of the fabric the sum effect on my figure is pretty much nil.

I ran with the new bra last Sunday and didn't notice anything in particular about it, except that it's cut a bit lower than the Old Navy ones so in warmer settings I'll probably layer it with higher cut tank tops in the interest of modesty. I'm so swaddled in layers for outside runs at this point I can't say one way or another how good the sweat wicking and drying properties are until I get a chance to try it out at the gym. The colour is however LOVELY.

I did notice a funny thing earlier this week. I did my first run at the gym Tuesday wearing one of my Old Navy bras and I don't know if the bra has sprung, if I've lost that much weight, or if I was just feeling self-conscious enough to notice for the first time; but either way I'm glad those bras have a lot of coverage because the effects were positively... seismic. I can't say as I've ever cared about what my boobs were doing while I run, but I was AWFULLY aware of it then.

It occurred to me that the only way to salvage the situation without buying more bras may actually be to put all of the padding back in and hope it provides a bit more structure to keep things in place!

Structure overkill? source:
I've experimented with running padding-in for the last two runs, but to be honest I think running outside is too distracting (and swaddled) to compare properly so I think my next treadmill run will tell me more of what I need to know.

What about you?
Do you care one way or another about padding in your sport specific structure garments?
If you have a favorite sports bra brand; is it padded and do you think the padding adds to the function of the bra? 

Saturday's run - 5k to 10k wk1 d2 -street run
2 miles over 23 minutes at an average pace of 11:33

5 minutes warm up/cool down
10 minutes of running at an "easy conversational pace"
3 minutes "tempo" run (challenging but not exhausting pace)
10 minutes of running at an "easy conversational pace"

I aimed for 12:00 as the easy pace and 10:00 for the challenging pace and pretty much hit it, though I was keeping closer to 11:30 for the second set of 10 minutes. I think I could have even pushed that 10:00 a bit more but I'm not going to sweat it for now.

The run overall felt pretty good, however I did have to do a very sudden stop to avoid a car that apparently wasn't terribly interested in stopping at a stop sign, and that torqued my outer right shin a bit. It was fairly tight throughout the run but calmed down shortly after I finished.

Sunday's run - 5k to 10k wk1 d3 -street run
2.48 miles over 30 minutes at an average pace of 12:75 minutes warm up/cool down
30 minutes of running at an "easy conversational pace"

Again I aimed for 12:00 and did not have ANY trouble keeping my pace that slow since my right calf was still pissed from the hard stop I made Saturday. By the time the endorphins had kicked in enough to ignore the discomfort in the muscle I was already kind of gassed out and it was dark enough for me to full on collide with the end of a large invisible tree branch sticking out of a refuse pile. Based on the initial impact marks I expect a spectacular bruise by morning.

I think this might have actually been my first time running two days back to back. I'll have to check back through my past runs.

Interesting side note: my boyfriend decided to take a walk at the same time as I was running but due to the lateness of the hour (running was a very last minute decision) he ended up pretty much keeping up with me the whole way to make sure I was safe. He doesn't normally run so he was wearing his usual dark wash jeans, dark jacket, black gloves, and black stocking cap.

Apparently no one in my neighborhood thinks anything of a small woman out in fluorescent orange running gear being followed at about 20 to 50 feet by a man in all black, so that's good to know!


  1. The only thing I can think of for having padding is for modesty and to reduce friction. Let us know how it goes!

  2. I prefer the padding as long as it isn't wonderbra-esque as I feel it gives me more support for my large "C"/small "D" boobs PLUS my headlights seem to always be "on" when I run so that helps a lot in the summer when it is just a bra and tanktop or thin tshirt on.

    1. Yeah, I've been kind of ignoring the "headlight" issue since when I'm outside in the summer I'm not staying in one place for long and in the winter I'm all covered... now that's another thing to be aware of at the gym. :p

  3. I use champion compression sports bras from target. zero padding. I'm a size 36B, so also on the small size, not much real support required.

    1. I actually find I end up with a lot of Champion stuff, surprising quality for the money.