Keep me covered
May 12, 2011 8:33 AM   Subscribe

I'm in the UK, I've just started Couch to 5k, and I'm having trouble getting suitable running gear. Particularly a sports bra. Help!

Basically, I need to get two things:

- a decent sports bra. I'm wearing a Shock Absorber encapsulation-type bra in a 38G. This was the size they fitted me into in Jan 2010. I actually wear a 36FF day to day. I don't feel I'm getting a lot of support from it and it doesn't feel comfortable to run in, so I tried ordering a Freya in my regular size and, while everything went in, there were weird fatty bulges by each arm which looked ridiculous. And when I jumped up and down there was still movement! Argh. So what kind of bra do I want for running and where should I go? Freya and Shock Absorber seem the main brands in department stores here, and running specialists online don't acknowledge cup sizes bigger than a D.

I thought about posting on Runner's World after Googling earlier today, but I tire so easily of people posting '36ff, that's impressive' or 'need jpgz plz' on all the bra threads and besides, they might run me out of there with a Nordic walking pole for not being a 'proper' runner.

- pants. Sounds simple, but I have a 33" inside leg and I really, really don't like artificial fibres. I just want something I can run in that's breathable and long enough not to look daft, which my current old high-street chain pants do. I don't want shorts or those odd running tights, or velour because the texture of it is too distracting. So where to find this?
posted by mippy to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Can you get to a Bravissimo store? They would be my best suggestion for finding a bra that will work.
posted by plonkee at 8:36 AM on May 12, 2011

For pants, I love Old Navy's cotton yoga pants, which come in tall sizes.
posted by decathecting at 8:39 AM on May 12, 2011

This article is relevant. You may want to try layering a compression-style sports bra over your encapsulation-type sports bra.
posted by almostmanda at 8:39 AM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm commenting here as a bloke but my wife had excellent service (and results) when she used the bra fitting service in John Lewis, and looking online, they do Nike and Cassall sports bras as well as the ones you mentioned.

I hope my wife doesn't now look at my recent browsing history.
posted by dowcrag at 8:59 AM on May 12, 2011

Finding non-tight running pants in a natural fiber will be a challenge, because tights and synthetics are just better suited to running. Cotton is heavy and will hold on to sweat. I don't mind a very lightweight cotton shirt for running, but I'd advise against cotton pants. If it's just the feel of synthetics you don't like, there are synthetics that feel very similar to cotton, but are lighter and wick better. You may be able to find something in a lightweight merino wool, but wool can be pricey.

And I actually really like tights because they're slippery and don't have extra fabric to flap around and get stuck between your legs, so they're easier and more comfortable to run in. If you find a style with a drawstring and go up a couple sizes, you'll still get the slipperiness without the skin-tightness.

I prefer capri-length pants for running; unless it's really cold out you won't need the full length, and you don't have to worry about finding the right inseam or getting your hems dirty.

For your specific needs, I'd recommend looking at knit pajama pants. They're often very lightweight, more likely to be in a natural fiber, and solid colors don't look pajama-y. Though I prefer tights now, I started out running in gray pajama pants and they were fine.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:20 AM on May 12, 2011

I got some cotton/spandex loose yoga-type pants that I regularly use for running from Primark. I know, you'd think super cheap-o, but they have actually held up to a lot of wearing and washing, and are really comfortable. They also have a drawstring waist, so no slipping down. I'm short, but they're really long on me, so they could work for a 33" inseam.
posted by aiglet at 9:27 AM on May 12, 2011

Once you get above a certain bra size, it's almost guaranteed that there will be some movement. I wear a D and I've only found one bra that essentially stopped all movement, but it was so tight I literally could not breathe. Can you purchase Enell bras in the UK? That's the only brand I know of that acknowledges that large-breasted women run, too. I hate to tell you to not expect something that looks attractive, but really you just have to focus on what's comfortable and what's runnable. You might need to try several bras before you find something that works for you, although I know how expensive that can be. Also, if you start doing a lot of mileage you might find it beneficial to buy some sports lube like Body Glide and apply it under the bottom band (under the boobs) before a long run to avoid chaffing.
posted by shornco at 9:28 AM on May 12, 2011

Response by poster: We don't have Old Navy here, sadly. I hear good things about them.

Capri length looks ridiculous on me. I don't care about looking particularly good but they make me feel uncomfortable and I domn't wan tto be put off running by these things.

I tried tights. They didn't fit properly - too short and not accommodating for my hips. (I have a 10in waist-hip difference which doesn't matter for underwear tights but seemed to here..) As a beginner I'm less worried about performance than something I'll feel comfortable (in both senses) wearing. What synthetics woulkd you recommend? I am mainly thinking of the nylon-type tracksuit bottoms that are popular for fashionwear. I am generally very texture-sensitive and fabrics like polyester, fleece and velour are very uncomfortable for me.
posted by mippy at 9:29 AM on May 12, 2011

The Glamorise sport plus-size bra (known as the Hallelujah Bra at Title 9 Sports) is the all-time best bra I've ever found for running. NO BOUNCING. That is all.
posted by mynameisluka at 9:38 AM on May 12, 2011

Apparently, Victoria's Secret has the same pants, in four different inseam lengths, and they ship to the UK.
posted by decathecting at 9:49 AM on May 12, 2011

The UK has some awesome running shop chains. Sweatshop for example. The staff are usually very helpful, especially for beginners.

Out of interest.. which Runners World forum did you visit? I have found the Runners World UK forum to be very beginner friendly. I don't normally frequent the US based one, so can't testify to how friendly the people are - but they will undoubtedly have a beginner forum there too.

The running community are generally very supportive, I would be surprised if you get harassed by asking this question there.
posted by TheOtherGuy at 9:58 AM on May 12, 2011

I bought from these folks when I was in the UK with great success. Not at home, so can't remember which one, but I also have an Enell from Title 9 and that thing doesn't allow for any motion whatsoever.
posted by marmot at 10:00 AM on May 12, 2011

I have an Enell bra and I wear an F cup, and there is no way I could imagine less movement without actually removing my breasts.

Besides the Enell, I know other women who have had luck wearing a pushup bra with a compression style bra on top of it.
posted by crankylex at 10:03 AM on May 12, 2011

For pants would you consider wearing tights (underwear-type, even) with shorts over top? I find it next to impossible to keep non-tight running pants on while I run, but I have the opposite body type from you (almost no difference between my waist and hips), so if you've got hips to hang your pants on, you might have better luck than me. As everyone up above has said, look for a drawstring.

For fibers, I don't know... I think I've bought all my running pants at Marshalls or T.J. Maxx and I just look for something synthetic and fitted/tight at least to the knee. They're polyester, sometimes a "performance" type of polyester like Coolmax, sometimes not. I wouldn't wear my running clothes around the house - I don't find them comfortable that way. But I like the way they feel when I'm sweaty and gross.
posted by mskyle at 10:56 AM on May 12, 2011

Sports bras in the UK are a bunch of shite. I am in the UK and on the larger-busted side and I swear by Australian bras, specifically this one.
posted by corvine at 11:42 AM on May 12, 2011

Could you wear regular cheap leggings underneath shorts? I'm fairly sure I've seen ladies wearing this ensemble running around London.
posted by MadamM at 12:11 PM on May 12, 2011

Response by poster: I have bizarre problems getting pants to fit. One size gapes at the waist and constantly falls down off my hips. The next size down won't fasten. Although something elasticated like the jogging pants I have now may help...

I have just been out for a run (week 2, yay me!) and noticed there's a good inch gap between the top of my trainers and the hem of the pants. Given I am wearing euro size 44 running shoes, I look like a peculiar duck.
posted by mippy at 12:29 PM on May 12, 2011

I have problems with stuff falling off my hips when I run, though I have the opposite build. Drawstrings help immensely, especially in conjunction with elastic at the waist.

Track-style pants could work, but look for ones specifically made for running, instead of "fashion" track pants. They'll be lighter, breathe more easily, and usually have a little bit of stretch. Major brands like Nike and Adidas often have styles that are meant for casual wear, and trying to run in them isn't always fun.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:09 PM on May 12, 2011

For pants--look at mens' gear. Drawstrings keep stuff from falling off me.

Sports bras in the UK are a joke. I'm smaller chested than you and also can't find anything large enough. I wear tight sports tops that have the bra built in, which will flatten you out unattractively but it stops the pain. (You can get these anywhere--last one I got was just from SportsDirect.)
posted by Polychrome at 4:43 AM on May 13, 2011

Response by poster: I tried one of these at Sports Direct. The built in shelf didn't come down past my nipples. I thought it would be great for extra support, but there just wasn't enough space there to make it at all comfortable.

Maybe I should write to Bravissimo and get them to design such things...sigh.
posted by mippy at 6:55 AM on May 13, 2011

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