What is the best running bra for marathon training? (Post 3: Essential running gear)

running_bras_are_importantGuys, stop here.  Ladies, let’s have some girl talk.  This morning a very smiley (oddly, given what I’m about to tell you) woman bounced past my sister and I on the running trail.  We watched in horror.  Well actually, we cringed.  It wasn’t her smile (that was fine).  It was her chest.  Or rather the bouncing blur that was her chest.  She had no bra on whatsoever!  Ouch! Perhaps you feel a kinship with our free styling jogger lady.  However, I beg of you, not to “hang loose” when you run.  Here’s why…

Why a running bra is important:

Studies have found that breasts move vertically and somewhat horizontally and laterally during exercise, regardless of size.  Lovely!  Apparently our chests get quite the work out.  What’s worse, unsupported breasts strain the breast tissue.  Thus, it’s no surprise that 50% of women claim to experience breast discomfort while exercising.  Not to mention, lack of support can contribute to sagging breasts and other fun stuff.  Oh boy!

running_bra_marathonLuckily, research indicates that 80% of breast pain from exercise can be eliminated by wearing running bras.  But you don’t want to wear just any running bra, and don’t expect to get away with a flimsy bra, just because you’re not a DD cup.  Dr. Joanna Scurr’s research found that regardless of breast size (she studied cup sizes A to JJ!), running bras that supported each individual breast (encapsulation) were most effective at reducing movement.  One more thing – a well-fitting running bra can help minimize chest and nipple chafing.  Big or small chested, an industrial grade sports bra for running is well worth the investment!


  • Compression (not recommended) or Encapsulation (individual breasts supported)
  • Pull over or clasped (eye hook)
  • Soft or underwire individual cup support
  • Colors

 What to look for: 

  • Wicking material
  • Anti-microbial material (bras get stinky!)
  • High front (not attractive, but holds ‘em in)
  • Snug/customizable fit (eye hook closures, adjustable straps, etc.)
  • Wide elastic band (minimizes chafing)


  • Get measured before you purchase your sport bra.  Your bra size can change from year to year, and you want this one to fit!
  • If you are on a budget, invest in one nice running bra for long and medium runs, and wash it twice a week.  Use lots of anti-chafing balm with your existing sport bras on your short runs.

Gals, did you find this information helpful?  Do me a favor and tweet it out to your fellow running buddies and friends.  Also, be on the lookout for part four of our series about running shorts!

Resources referenced in this post:

University of Portsmouth (2007, September 15). Bouncing Breasts Spark New Bra Challenge. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 15, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2007/09/070915124901.htm

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2 Responses to “What is the best running bra for marathon training? (Post 3: Essential running gear)”

  1. Jason June 2, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

    Admittedly, as a guy, this post is not for me. But I did forward it to my female running friends. Great stuff! I especially like your “illustration”. Perhaps a similar post for guys running underwear???

    • Katy June 14, 2012 at 1:17 am #

      Thanks for forwarding the post, and for the feedback, Jason! Sorry we left out the guys this time…but I love your suggestion of adding a “guys only” gear post. I don’t recommend that marathoners wear undies (more fabric=more opportunity for chafing), but I have another idea for the guys and will post it soon. Thanks again!

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