Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Product Week - Sports Bras

As I have absolutely nothing noteworthy to say about running right now, I wanted to tell you about my recent quest for a new sports bra.  Here's what I'd hoped to love, didn't end up loving, and what I eventually bought.

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.

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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!

13 comments:

  1. IMO sports and regular bra shopping/buying/wearing can be tormenting so it's always nice to find something that works. The fact that you're wearing that new style in the current TX heat and humidity and not chafing says a lot.

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    1. Bra shopping is always a challenge, but sports bras bring it to another level, that's for dang sure!

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  2. I have 2 sports bras that I love and NO chafing--one is from Champion--not the C9 brand from Target, but the real company. It's neoprene and buckles in the back. It is really comfortable. The other one is from Moving Comfort. If I had to pick my favorite tho, it's the Champion bra. I just love it. Neither of them were inexpensive, but I think you get what you pay for when it comes to sports bras.

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    1. I tried on one from Target that sounds similar to what you are describing - unfortunately it just wasn't big enough in the cup size for me. But it was so soft! Lucky you to be able to wear it. :)

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  3. I definitely prefer sports bras that have some sort of opening or closure ( not the slip over the head kind) but I have been skeptical of the ones that have zippers! Yay on getting a bargain!

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    1. I will say, I'm VERRRRY careful when I zip up the bra!

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  4. The front zip is such a great design. I mean if you could see me contorting out of my sweaty pullovers after a run. I swear, I'm going to dislocate my shoulder! Thankfully, no chafing for me. I use a variety of Reebok, Nike, Old Navy. (But I also don't have very much in the boobage area.)

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  5. I could talk about sports bras all day long... mostly because I'm struggling to find a brand I like! For years I've been devoted to moving comfort's Fiona bra. But they are now owned by brooks and, while they look the same, the new bras do not control the bounce. I didn't realize how bad it was until my husband recorded my daughter and I crossing a finish line. I looked like I was going to do serious damage or at least hit myself in the face! Since then I've tried several different brands and styles, but can't find anything that works as well as the old moving comfort's did. But I refuse to wear a front zip bra. I had a horrible experience of not realizing it was unzipping during a class at the y until it popped open. I went to the back wall and tried to discreetly zip it back up, but the room was mirrors on all four walls. Everyone saw.

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    1. OMG it UNZIPPED?! That would be a nightmare - eek! And now you know I'm going to be checking the zipper every time I run!

      I agree with you on the Moving Comfort bras - they used to be my go-to, but something changed after Brooks bought them. :(

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  6. That's the one great thing about biking. I don't have to worry about bounce control so much LOL! I like the idea of the Wacoal and front zip.

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  7. I have one that I love - Handful and it's expensive but I don't have much in that dept and don't need any support.

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  8. I've got too many sports bras to count, but I find that the ones that rub, but still give me support? I wear a tank top underneath first, then the sports bra (and then another shirt!) I know that's ridiculous, but it works! Hoping this comment sticks, they haven't been lately :(

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  9. I just love it. Neither of them were inexpensive, but I think you get what you pay for when it comes to sports bras. thanks for sharing!

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