Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Booby Traps: Running Bras in Review

Before we get started I want to share that it's been pretty much decided that this blog will start going by a new name: Run Write Mom, and can be found at http://runwritemom.com, if you have the site bookmarked, you can go ahead and change your bookmark to that. Otherwise, you don't need to do anything, except tell all your friends to visit runwritemom.com.

Here's a review those male led running blogs can't help you with. Today, I'm talking about sports bras. Too many times I see women running and think about shouting at them that they need a better bra, okay not really, but really. If you're worried I might be talking about you, don't worry, if it's you I'm sure you know it. I'm here to help ladies!

 As a woman who started getting serious about running when her second child was just 2 months old and still breastfeeding, made it back to pre-pregnancy weight, and then ran until I was 37 weeks pregnant with my third, I've been through a wide range of sizes. I've also learned what works and what doesn't, what I like and what I hate. A good running bra is second only to shoes when it comes to essential running gear, actually it might be more important than shoes. Hopefully my experience can help you determine what running bra is right for you without too much of a struggle.

Speaking of struggle, let's talk about how hard it is to get and over-the-head type bra off after you've soaked it with sweat and you're exhausted. That's a whole 'nother workout right there! I've felt like I'm about to dislocate my shoulder several times. However, I finally discovered that with some of these over-the-head styles, specifically ones where the straps are two separate pieces (even if they cross, as long as they aren't attached to each other), that I can take them off by pulling them down instead of up over my head. If that sounds confusing, imagine you're taking off a one-piece swimsuit, you take it off your shoulders first, and then down over your hips; it's like that. Now, if you're a bigger runner, this probably won't work since you'll have a hard time getting the band that's normally under your boobs to fit over your hips.

Anyway, let's get to it. These are the bras in my current rotation. For reference, my current regular bra (DKNY brand, which runs a little larger than VS) size is 32DD.

I'm going to start with the one I like the least and work toward the one I currently like the most. To be clear, I like all of these bras, if I don't like one I don't buy it or I return it, and you should too. RunningWarehouse.com will let you return a bra you've ran in for store credit if you find out it just doesn't work for you.

1. Moving Comfort (now Brooks) Fiona (30B-40DD)
I've had two of these bras and it was my first real running bra. It's a pretty average running bra at a decent price and gets the job done. Hook and eye back closure. My size experience: 34D and 30DD
Velcro straps! The straps velcro in the front so they can be easily adjusted. While this is mainly for fit purposes, I found it super handy for breastfeeding, in fact that's why I chose this bra to begin with. It breathes pretty well even though it doesn't seem like it would. Great support during pregnancy and breastfeeding. This bra holds up great over time, like I said, one of these (not the one pictured, but a larger size) was my first real running bra and it was the only one I had for quite some time, getting used and washed a lot.
No cute patterns, and just okay color choices. I've had dark purple and pink. (I take that back, as I check online right now, there are some good patterns they've come out with but most of them are sold out.) The bottom band can be a bit uncomfortable as it doesn't have any give to it. While the velcro straps are mostly a pro, if the end of the strap happens to hit at your collar bone it's not only annoying but a chaffing issue.

2. Lululemon Ta Ta Tamer II (32C-36DD, 38C-D)
This is probably the bra I have the most experience with, I've had several. It's a bit pricier than most but I think it's worth it. Previously listed as high impact, but now they call it medium. I would still call it high. Hook and eye back closure. My size experience: 32DD, 34DD, 38D
So many cute colors and sometimes patterns. Removable cup inserts provide some modesty, though I keep them out now as I find it breathes better without them. Mesh area between the boobs provides nice breath-ability. Adjustable straps.
The other one was worse
Higher price point, aren't we just paying for the name? Straps are not the most comfortable, and I've even found the hook and eye piece to become irritating after a while. If you aren't sized right in this one you'll really notice a lack of support. I've had 4 or 5 of these and two of them have had the hooks start to rust, that's only 2 out of 5, but at $60 it's worth noting. I've also had a couple of the lighter colored ones fade. Supposedly you can unhook the straps and cross them for a cross-back style but I've never had success with this. Maybe if you had help putting it on you could do it.

3. Moving Comfort (Brooks) Urban X-Over (XS-XL, A/B or C/D)
The Urban X-Over is one of the newest bras in my rotation and I debated getting it for a while. I bought it and the New Balance one coming up at the same time with the intention of only keeping one, but I liked them both. Molded cups. Hook and eye back closure with cross-back. My size experience: Small A/B.
Photo doesn't do this cute bra justice

The cuteness! This is one of the cutest running bras I've ever seen. I has a great, feminine look (but how can a bra not be feminine?). I love the cross-back for wearing under racer back tanks, and that it comes in great color combos. It's also easy to find this one on sale for less than $30. Surprisingly comfortable for an adjustable bra.
The sizing on this bra is super confusing depending on where you're shopping for it. It comes in A/B and C/D, then XS-XL in each of those cup groupings. RunningWarehouse only sells it in A/B and I wasn't aware of the sizing deal until after I ordered it. I'm probably an XS C/D, but I have a S in the A/B and it works, though the cups are very full. Yes, I could have returned it, but this color wasn't available in the other size. Plus, I figure I'm almost done with my breastfeeding journey and would rather it be a little snug now than have to buy a new one when it's too big in a month or two. The padding in this bra is not removable, and that's the main reason I considered returning it. The combination of cross-back and hook and eye closure makes this one a little difficult to put on. I have to fasten the hooks then put it over my head, and I'm pretty flexible. It does make it easier to take off though. I really wish this bra had a key pocket, with the above bras I can put my key between the girls and feel like it's going to stay there, this one makes me a little nervous.

4. Lululemon Energy Bra (2-12)
Lululemon seems to keep going back and forth between calling this a medium support bra and a high support bra. It's really targeted more to yoga, but a lot of runners have found it works great for us as well. If you're on the smaller side (size 8 and under) it can definitely work for running, if not you probably want to find something more supportive. Over-the-head, strappy cross-back. My size
experience: 4.
Like most Lululemon gear, this bra comes in awesome colors and patterns. It's stretchy but not too stretchy, and super comfortable. The cross-back is strappy which is really cute, especially if you're one of those super-secure-in-your-body-image women who goes without a shirt when she runs. Removable pads, but, let's face it, they're impossible to get back in right once you take them out. No closures, moving parts, or other adjusting devices means less places to irritate and chafe.
While the fabric is soft and stretches just the right way, I've found it to absorb sweat, leaving me soaked at the end of a run. 

Lululemon All Sport Bra (2-12)
This was my favorite bra when I first got it, due to the cons below I don't own one right now, so it's not pictured. They list it as medium support but it definitely works for running. Over-the-head, cross-back. My size experience: 8.
I could sleep in this bra, it's that comfortable. It has the place for removable cup padding but doesn't usually come with the actual pads. Straps and band are smooth and I've never experienced chafing, even on 10+ mile runs. Cute colors and patterns, though I wish they released them more often.
There is an adjustable version of this bra that is just plain terrible, it's on sale now so maybe they're phasing it out. I'm not the only one who things it's terrible either, just read the reviews. For a while they seemed to be focusing on releasing colors for the adjustable version and left the standard one behind, I hope this is changing. This is one that I take off by pulling it down as it's difficult to pull off over your head after a run. Just like the Energy Bra, this one tends to absorb sweat and get heavy and soaked.

5. Lululemon Stuff Your Bra (2-12)
In my opinion the Stuff You Bra is nearly identical to the All Sport Bra, except it has pockets on the front. Over-the-head, cross-back. My size experience: 6.
Three pockets, stuff 'em
Again, very comfortable, cute patterns and colors. This one has pockets which puts it ahead of the All Sport. I can put my key in the center pocket and not worry about it.
Just like the Energy and All Sport, we have the sweat absorption issue here too. Another con here is that where the pocket layer is sewn to the straps a little seam is created that might rub your collar bone.

6. New Balance Shapely Shaper (XS-L)
Another new to me bra, and my current favorite. This is also the only racer back on this list. Supposedly this is for A/B cups, but as a small band D-DD, who prefers a sports bra to be on the snug side, it works for me. Note that I have not worn this on a long run yet. Over-the-head, racer back.My size experience: Small.
Pop! Goes the color
Another one with a major cute factor here. What first drew me to this bra was the back, which is very flattering on as well. This one has a perfect key pocket on the inside front. Removable cup padding. Best of all, it breathes and doesn't get soaked! If you're running in hot, humid weather, this is a must. You can get a less cute color of this bra for as low as $15 on Amazon right now, making it the most affordable bra on my list.
The racer back style is one of the most difficult to get off since my pulling down method doesn't work. Limited size range, at least make an XL New Balance! I haven't tried this bra on a long run yet, but I could see some of the strap edges or band creating a possible chafing issue.

So, there you have it. What is your favorite or least favorite sports bra? Have you tried any of these?

(I have not been paid or compensated in any way to write this post, I bought these bras with my own money and decided to write this unbiased review all on my own. This post does contain affiliate links.)



  1. This was sure informative for runners. I definitely agree there are runners which need to read this...they need a better bra! It often pains me to see some gals running.

    1. I know, right? They have to feel that, maybe they think it's not noticeable. I always jump and and down or jog in place in front of a mirror when first trying on a new bra.


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