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The wrong sports bra can ruin your run.

By Lauren Phillips
Updated April 09, 2020
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Best sports bras for running: running bras from Tracksmith
Credit: tracksmith.com

Learning how to start running isn’t easy, but once you do it and actually—dare I say it—begin to enjoy running, it’s practically a cure-all. Bad day at work? Go for a run. Jittery and over-caffeinated? Go for a run. Crying over a break-up? Go find your running shoes and go for a run. Still, even once you’ve gotten in the habit of running, a few slip-ups can ruin even a basic jog around the neighborhood.

Injuries, of course, can derail any run attempt, but so can dysfunctional running gear, and few pieces of running gear fail you as often as running bras. Reliable running bras stretch out and start to sag; new, untried ones can chafe or lack support. For most women, running without a sports bra is unthinkable, but finding a good sports bra for running that offers the necessary support, is durable, is comfortable, and is actually sort of cute (that last one might be a long shot, but still) rarely seems worth the effort.

People of all bra sizes know that your breasts need support during high-impact activities such as running, and that’s especially true for larger-breasted women, who can experience increased back pain or other issues if they run without proper support. Regardless of breast or band size, research from Brooks found that uncontrolled breast movement while running results in a reduction in stride of four centimeters for every step. Over the course of a marathon, that adds up to a mile lost, something Brooks calls the Hidden Mile.

No one wants to run further than necessary, and fortunately, proper sports bra support can reduce that uncontrolled movement (in addition to those other benefits). Especially now, when many people are turning to running or jogging to maintain fitness during coronavirus quarantine and resulting gym and studio shutdowns, running with the proper equipment is essential for avoiding injury or discomfort and making every workout a little better.

I’d consider myself a pretty consistent runner—10 years of regular running experience, four half-marathons under my belt, and 800 miles logged in the last 12 months—and these are the best sports bras for running for me. They don’t chafe, they don’t get water-logged and uncomfortable (even on long runs in the heat of summer), and they offer the support I need to reach my running goals. Every woman and every runner is different, but if you’re looking for a running bra you can trust, I’d start with these.

Tracksmith Run Bra
Credit: tracksmith.com

1
Tracksmith Run Bra

For a running bra without all the bells and whistles, turn to this pared-down sports bra from Tracksmith. Tracksmith is all about celebrating running heritage, hence the classic silhouette and old-school racing stripe of this bra. Don’t let the traditional look fool you: The band won’t slip or rub a centimeter while you’re on the road, and the build itself is cut from twin layers of a nylon blend that maximizes support and breathability.

The bra is a little long, so it offers a little more coverage than many sports bras if you go shirtless, but large-breasted women be warned: This bra doesn’t offer cup support, so if you need more support than average to be comfortable on your jog, look for something with more built-ins. For bare-bones runners (and smaller-chested ones), though, this simple bra is all you need no matter the distance.

To buy: $58; tracksmith.com.

Brooks Dare Crossback Run Bra
Credit: brooksrunning.com

2
Brooks Dare Crossback Run Bra

This new line of Brooks run bras is designed to eliminate the aforementioned Hidden Mile. There are several different models and silhouettes, but I’ve found this one to be the most comfortable and streamlined. (Admittedly, I’m on the smaller side, so extra support isn’t always necessary—bigger-breasted women may want to examine all models for their best fit.) The Crossback is a pullover bra, my preference, but ignores the racerback convention in favor of a flexible, snug (but no-rub) back and band.

This sports bra has molded cups to both lift and support breasts, lowering the chance of cleavage chafing. (It even has smart ventilation at the breastbone to reduce boob sweat.) Possibly best of all, it offers band and cup sizing like traditional bras, so women with large breasts but small band sizes (or vice versa) don’t have to make-do with a more limiting small-medium-large sizing system.

To buy: $60; brooksrunning.com.