Women with big breasts have some challenges that other people might not understand. We cannot wear strapless bras without needing to hitch them up every three minutes. We are faced with decisions about whether running for the bus would cause too much inconvenient bouncing. Button-down shirts gape, no matter what size we get. And of course, there’s Underboob Sweat. I’m not talking about little half-moons of perspiration on the bottom of each bra cup. I’m talking about litres of the stuff that you have to wipe off with a towel. Which you then have to wring out over the bathtub.
Large-breasted runners have their own unique set of problems. Like these:
1. Getting into sports bras is a sport in itself. We don’t just put on our sports bras like our more petite counterparts. We wrestle our boobs into submission. We have to shift things around and tuck bits in to make sure we don’t hit the pavement looking like a Picasso painting. And those of us in racer back bras have to turn into contortionists in order to strip down for our post-run shower.
2. We have to buy our sports bras online. Running stores love putting out social media posts saying that runners come in all shapes and sizes, but they don’t cater to runners of all shapes and sizes. It would be easier to find powdered unicorn horn mixed with the sweat of seven dragons than it would be to go to a store and find a decent sports bra with cups that are DD or bigger. We are left with two options: shell out a fortune at a specialist bra shop that charges specialist bra shop prices (and everyone knows that runners need at least three sports bras), or buy online and just hope the thing will fit.
3. Heart rate monitors are a challenge. Heart rate monitors usually come in the form of sensors on a strap that goes around the chest. For the most accurate reading, the strap should be secured right below the breast area directly against the skin. And let’s face it, there’s not enough room there for my plus-sized knockers, my giant-by-necessity sports bra, my litres of Underboob Sweat and a heart rate monitor strap.
4. There’s nowhere to attach race bibs. A race bib should be the easiest things in the world to attach, right? I mean, it’s just a rectangle of paper that you stick onto your shirt with safety pins. The trouble is, nothing screams “Stare at me!” louder than giant numbers attached to giant boobs. Apart from that, the bib kind of puckers and crumples when it’s attached to something resembling two misshapen melons (or if your sports bra has given you a uniboob, something resembling a giant misshapen pool noodle). We have to find creative ways to attach our bibs. I pin the top of mine to the bottom hem of my shirt, so that the bottom part of the bib kind of free-floats.
5. Fuel belts make our boobs look even bigger. The fuel belt is a staple for many half-marathoners and marathoners. It carries bottles of water and/or sports drink, gel packs and other items that might be needed during the run. It attaches around the waist, which is problematic for many of us. It cinches my waist in a way that makes my boobs look even bigger, and I end up looking like Betty Boop dressed up in a runner’s costume for Halloween.
6. We know how painful salt in the wound really is. Breasts – even small ones – move a lot during runs. The bigger the boobs, the larger the range of motion. Because it’s so hard to find sports bras that adequately restrict how much our breasts move, we end up chafing. Sometimes I end up with bleeding raw patches right in the Underboob Sweat area. When I take my post-run shower, the salt from the sweat runs into the raw patches, and it hurts. A lot.
7. Being top heavy is a thing. We big-breasted people carry a fair amount of weight on our chests. If you don’t believe me, tie a three-pound sack of potatoes to your chest and go for a 5K run. It affects our posture, changes the way we run – particularly up and down hills, and it gives us our very own set of aches and pains.
8. Race videos are the most unflattering thing ever. You’re running along, having a great race, feeling like a million dollars. You post your best ever finishing time, and you go home proudly wearing your finisher’s medal. A couple of days later, you open the email containing your race photos and your finish line video. You’re excited to see this record of you running gracefully, like a gazelle. You play the video, and – holy crap! Those gazungas are bouncing and swaying like there’s no tomorrow! You settle for ordering one or two of the least bad pictures and you forego the video entirely.
Fortunately, the pull of running is too strong to let any of these things stop me. This weekend, I will be out on the road with Boob One and Boob Two, and I will love every second of it.
This is an original post by Kirsten Doyle. Photo credit: Justin Taylor. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.