The backstory is that while I had three sports bras that worked well, they were all the same style and when I was running so much from January through April, wearing a bra that hit me in the exact same place for every run caused some chafed areas that wouldn't heal. I usually applied either Body Glide or 2Toms Sport Shield around the band area, but I would chafe in the back, on both sides where the bra hooked. It got so bad that I'd wear bandaids to try and keep the chafing from getting worse, but because I continued to run so much and wear the same bra style, it never healed.
I had this in mind when I was at the Cap10K expo in Austin in April; honestly, I figured that since we were in a bigger city, after the expo I'd head over to Nordstrom and try on sports bras there. But at the expo, I came across the Shefit sports bra booth, and remembered that I'd been interested in this bra when I saw it profiled on Shark Tank over a year ago. The ladies in the booth couldn't have been nicer, and helped me find the right fit. I tried a couple sizes on and was really pleased - this bra is a zip front, with a smooth back, so I figured I could alternate with my other sports bras and not end up with that chafing issue that stemmed from wearing the same style over and over.
The straps on the Shefit sports bra are adjustable, to either a cross back or like a regular bra. The neatest thing I liked about the bra was the band itself - it's adjustable! So if you lose or gain a little weight, the bra will still fit (or if you're pregnant and your size is changing, this would be a great option; I texted Cary to tell her about it, and she ended up buying one). Here's how you work the Shefit sports bra:
image taken from the Shefit website.
I ended up buying two of the Shefit sports bras at the expo - they had special expo pricing and while the bras were expensive at $50 each, they weren't as expensive as the Wacoal sports bras that I'd been wearing. Aside from that, this is what I do - run - and I need the proper equipment, so I really didn't stress too much about the price.
I was so excited to have a new sports bra and get through a run without chafing my back that I decided to wear it the following day for the Cap10K race. I know, I know - the cardinal rule is nothing new on race day, but I reasoned that I'd have to wear it on a run at some point, so why not for this one? Well. That was a mistake. I didn't chafe on my back, but after just a couple of miles, I was feeling a stinging pain in the front, just under the zippered area. We ended up stopping for a potty break around the 2.5 mile mark and were in line long enough for me to discreetly check out what was happening. It wasn't pretty - it looked like I had been cut in a couple areas! The zipper itself was still covered by the fabric flap cover, but the band was cutting into me. I tried loosening it up, but the damage was done. I felt like a dunce, really - I wore this without washing it first, and for a 6.2 miles run!
It took a couple weeks for the chafing cuts to heal; during that time I wore my old sports bras, now with bandages on my back and on my front. I washed the Shefit bra to soften it up, and decided to give it another try, on a 5 mile run. This time, I liberally applied Body Glide in the area where the band had chafed me previously. Well. We weren't too far into that run when I felt the familiar stinging pain, and when we finished, I'd chafed just below the other newly-healed spots! Sighhhhh.
A couple more weeks of healing on the new chafed areas later, I wore my Shefit sports bra for a 2 mile run around our neighborhood...and was sliced again.
Obviously this wasn't the bra for me. And I was pretty disappointed about that, because I think that it's a great concept. Having a sports bra that is size adjustable would be fantastic - not only for fluctuating and/or changing sizes, but also having the option to loosen it up means that you could use it for less high impact activity as well - generally if I have a sports bra that works for something high impact like running, there's no way I'd wear it for yoga or bike riding - I'd want something more comfortable. I think the issue with the Shefit sports bra is the band itself - it's very wide, and the fabric is just a little too firm for the delicate skin around my ribcage. If they made some changes to the band, I would give this sports bra another try, because I do think they are onto something with this design.
I have to give Shefit kudos for their return policy - because I was beyond the 30-day return date thanks to my having to heal and retry the bra and heal and retry the bra again, I had to email the company to ask to return the one bra that I hadn't worn, and I explained my reasons for the return. They allowed me to return both bras, which was more than I'd hoped for! That kind of customer service says a lot to me, and even if they had only allowed me to return the one unused bra, I'd still be interested in future redesigns of this bra, but now, I'm extra happy to keep up with their products.
I was back at square one with my sports bra issues, only at least by this time, Diane had run her marathon so I wasn't running as many miles. The chafing areas all healed up, but knowing that all too soon I'll be back to running more, I needed to get a different style sports bra. I started looking around and found a zip front bra from Wacoal, so I tried one out:
Not me, obviously.
This sports bra has been working well, although I went up a size in the band from what I normally wear with their back-closure sports bras. It's comfortable and I've had no chafing issues, thank goodness, although the longest run I've worn it for was 3.5 miles. It's the off-season, what can I say? I like the racerback; it feels cooler to me, which is nice this time of year. I paid full price for my first Wacoal zip-front sports bra because I ordered it from Nordstrom knowing that their liberal return policy would serve me well if I needed to return this after wearing it, but once I knew that I loved this bra, I shopped around online and found it for quite a bit less - $43 vs $72 (and see, that's why the $50 price tag on the Shefit bra didn't bother me).
So there you have it - my sports bra story. While I loved the Shefit sports bra in theory, my reality was that the Wacoal sports bra worked better for me. At least now I'm set for another year with this essential part of my running wardrobe!