Thursday, June 6, 2013

Padding the truth.

Running's always made me like my body. 

Most fast runners tend to be on the shorter side, and my stubby legs, though a deficit in horse riding, give me an efficient stride with a high turnover.  I have solid thighs that do a great job of stabilizing and propelling.  Ditto for my rear.  And though some people try to claim that "real women have curves," I know that my "boyish figure" with its narrow hips is girlish too.  Fast and girlish.

And then there's my chest.  

In middle school, I waited for the a-cups to blossom.  They never did.  And that was sad.  But years later, when I heard repeatedly about other runners' struggles with back pain and bounce and their quests for wired and strapped contraptions, I realized I had been spared.

I'm just aerodynamic.  And structurally sound.  No need for external support. 

So I was happy.  Running offered all sorts of clothes like stretchy tops and sports bras and split shorts, all of which fit me and were comfortable and functional, and came in plain colors or simple geometric designs (with a lot of black).  I'm a simple dresser (and I really like black).  Heck, the underwear was even included in the shorts, so you didn't have to wear it separately.  Brilliant!


People run dressed like this?
But then, there was a shift in running culture.  First came the fancy pricy clothes - stuff with all sorts of extra straps and flowers and sparkles that I really didn't get the need for.   And the running skirts - crazy things with waves of silly fabric that added resistance.

I'm not into this stuff, and don't get it.  But I'm fascinated by the phenomenon, and the people who buy this stuff.  Plus I like expo shopping.  And that was how I ended up browsing the "Running Skirts" booth at a race expo last fall. 

I drifted over, full of humor tinged with a slight bit of scorn, and saw, behind the brand reps (all coordinated like dolls) the sports bras.  Padded sports bras.  Supposedly for "modesty" (seriously, there's nothing "modest" about this much padding).  Amplifying that which I was so happy to be without.

I bought two of them. 

In case you're wondering what they look like. 
(I bought a third later)
By way of explanation/justification/excuse, I really liked the pattern on both of them.  And I tried them on, and they were an absolutely perfect fit.  And the price was right.  So I swallowed my own hypocrisy and let the mannequin in matching skirt, top, long socks, and armwarmers swipe my card.


Gloves, inhaler, and
two gels in this bra.
I wore one of the bras a few days later. just didn't feel quite right.  Like I had changed the nose of my aircraft.  It was comfortable, and yet not. 

And padding meant less space to store stuff in the sports bra, which is really the true purpose of that item of apparel.

The bras drifted to the back of my drawer.  Until last week, when I wore one on my easy Saturday run (I really need to do laundry).  I was running around DC, and stopped by the local track to do drills, only find the normal entrance completely blocked by construction.

I asked one of the workers how I could get onto the track.  He started to tell me that I needed to walk around the other side.  And then looked up.  And told me I could just step through the construction site and duck around that gate.  He even cleared some stuff out of my way.  Yay.  Easy.

I didn't make the connection.

Post drills, I was jogging down 9th St.  I came upon another construction site blocking the sidewalk, and started to mentally map out how I'd dodge the various workers.  When suddenly, they looked up, and parted, allowing me to pass.  With smiles.

I made the connection.  And I grinned.  And I decided I'd move these bras to the top of my drawer, for easy runs.

You see, while I may feel a bit silly wearing the things, I've also come to realize that in this world, a woman's ample chest (or _relatively_ ample, in my case - these things aren't THAT padded) is still the equivalent of a skeleton key.

I may brag that I made my way in the corporate world based on my skills and merits (and my chest proves it so), but I'm not adverse to using other tools in certain situations.  Especially when my pleasant easy run is a bit more pleasant and easy on a beautiful Saturday morning.

I'm practical, you see.  (And the bras do fit really well, and I do like the patterns).

Do I feel a bit dishonest?  Well, sure.  In a way, it's deceptive advertising.

But that's why I've ordered this shirt, as a disclaimer.

I'll wear it come fall.  Promise.


  1. I wear padded sports bras (1) to help with the wiggle/jiggle and (2) I'm *ahem* prone to changes in temperature if you catch my drift. But my padding doesn't add much volume.

    Are those Moving Comfort, btw? I love their bras. The Vixen is my go-to sports bra.

    1. The black one is the Moving Comfort Alexis, the other two are Running Skirts brand.

      I guess we just come from different places. I have no wiggle/jiggle whatsoever. The padding does conceal when the girls go on alert, but it's also at least 50% of the volume of my b00bs, so pretty distorting.

  2. I love the idea of padded bras because I too am a visible temperature thermometer. I sometimes sew pockets in the bras to hold stuff. I had boobs when i was nursing and it made for uncomfortable running.

    1. Y'know, I could remove the pads and use the sleeves for the pads as pockets!

  3. As one of the, uh, better endowed, I'll just say that the idea of being able to choose your boobabge level sounds BRILLIANT.

  4. I have always been happy that I could wear basically any sports bra that fit and not have to worry about support level! But when it comes to sports bra storage space, I am obsessed with this one that I just purchased:

  5. OMG! That long sleeve shirt is hysterical. This post made me smile. Nice body diagram!

    You and I are exact opposites in that department- I only buy sports bras from Europe where they understand how to properly support someone with a large cup without making the bra 100 lbs. Likewise, my bras are too full of boob to ever stuff anything in them! Maybe in another 5 years you will discover the joy of the running skirt. ;-)

  6. I like this post...but did you know the Running Skirts ladies are FAST!? Like, they win races fast? So, whatever floats your boat, right? ;)

  7. I'm just catching up on your posts today, and I want to say I loved this post! I can really relate--I'm 5' tall with barely anything up top (32A?). Is it terrible that I like the catcalls/attention when I'm running in shorts and a sports bra that somehow makes my boobs look bigger? Nope.