Running gear: 12 key features of the best sports bras for runners

Real lady runners may not be picky about fitness fashions, or they may be. But females who fly across the miles, using their own two feet, will likely be choosy about two things: sneakers and sports bras. Volumes of sports shoe selection strategies abound. But what really counts, when it comes to sports bras?

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Smart women runners look high and low for these 12 key features in suitable sports bras.

  1. Support. Save the compression fabrics for shorts, sleeves, and tops. Compression sports bras really only work for the slimmest of women with few or no upper curves. Besides, the uniboob look is out.
  2. Sizing and Fit. The most functional running bras feature actual sizes – not just small, medium, and large. Look for numbers and even cup sizes, if possible.
  3. Comfort. A smart shopper would never buy an everyday bra without trying it on first for comfort. A sports bra needs to feel good and stay in place when a women bends, stretches, and runs.
  4. Sturdiness. Too many sports bras have removable cup pads, which twist and slip out in the wash. The best styles contain sewn-in cups.
  5. Moisture wicking. Cotton is super for everyday wear, but modern-day technical fabrics are better for running and working out.
  6. Breathability. Cheap polyester is no bargain, when it comes to a sports bra. Who wants to risk chafing and rashes?
  7. Adjustable straps. These are hard to find among sports bras, but well worth the search.
  8. Closure. Over-the-head sports bras are difficult to put on and take off, especially after sweating. Pick one that opens and closes in front or in back, just like a regular bra, and the difference will amaze you.
  9. No inner seams or labels. This is a pet peeve among lady runners. Well-constructed sports bras may have seams stitched to the outside, so the inside remains smooth to prevent itching, rubbing, or chafing.
  10. Coverage. Modesty matters, especially during runs or other rigorous physical activity. On the hottest days, lady runners may run without tanks or tees over their sports bras. That pretty much rules out skimpy ones.
  11. X-straps or Racer-back Styling. Strap slippage can be a constant annoyance on a run. If a sports bra has traditional shoulder straps, they may need to be tied or clipped together.
  12. Price. The right sports bra counts for plenty to a serious female runner, so it may be worth the investment. Also, favorite sports bra brand names may count with many lady runners. But even the top brands can often be found at discounted prices, if a woman is willing to shop around online or in stores. Here’s a tip: A savvy runner will scoop up more than one sports bra at a time, if she finds the ideal style at a super price.

Careful readers will notice that aesthetic details, such as color and styling, did not make the list of 12 key features of the best sports bras for runners. Sure, personal style counts for plenty, especially when a lady runner’s warm weather ensemble leaves her sports bra partially or fully visible. Still, aesthetics tend to come into play after the practical considerations listed above.

A woman runner might skimp on apparel. She could win races in cheap tees and hand-me-down shorts. But a smart sports bra is a worthy purchase – the foundation of any female runner’s ensemble.

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