We had real runners put loads of apparel through the paces to solve problems like painful bra straps, tops that stay put and more.
Who hasn’t purchased a new pair of shorts and excitedly gone for a run only to find yourself pulling them down constantly as your thighs chafe, chafe, chafe with each step? Or you have a cute new top that keeps riding up your torso with every burst of speed? If I wanted to show off my belly, I wouldn’t be wearing this shirt in the first place!
We found real runners in search of foolproof running gear—items that would solve their individual issues. We gathered more than 100 pieces from both big running apparel brands and smaller ones, and our testers hit the streets, trails and treadmills to find what works. If you have any of these same gripes, you may have luck with these problem solvers!
Tester: Melissa Farruggia of Seabrook, Texas, had previously tried bras from a bunch of different brands, but her biggest issue was not enough support (she wears a 38C). “Bouncing for long distances was no fun,” she says. To stop the movement, she’d buy smaller bras that were too tight, making them uncomfortable, especially for long runs.
Bra Goals: Enough support, straps that don’t hurt her shoulders and easy on/off
Run Stats: Farruggia runs four days and about 30 miles per week on roads and trails. She tested more than a dozen bras, running at least 3 miles in each of them and even wearing some for Tae Bo and Zumba.
Gear-Testing Lessons: “I loved all the different styles and materials they were made of,” she says. “I also love how comfortable they were. I could do a long run and not feel the need to take it off right away!”
Melissa’s top-three problem solvers…
Brooks Moving Comfort Collection UpLift Crossback Sports Bra
Farruggia says this model provides fantastic support with light and breathable material and wide, comfortable straps. She adds there was no chafing after a long run and no nipple show. A back clasp makes dressing—and sticky-sweat undressing—easy.
Lorna Jane High Intensity Sports Bra
“Awesome support” is how Farruggia describes this bra, which goes a little higher in the front and has a cute, secret heart bead sewn inside. The straps may be on the thin side, but the ability to adjust and clasp them in the back makes the whole bra “very easy to take on and off even after a sweaty workout.”
Nike Pro Hero
With individual cups for the girls, this bra provides encapsulated support that Farruggia appreciates—plus “thick straps that don’t dig into the shoulders.” Usually she doesn’t go for this kind of strappy style with a not-so-sporty look, but with no squishing and on-and-off ease, she’s a convert.
Tester: Kristen Arnaiz works for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series and lives in La Mesa, Calif. Before testing, she had tried running shirts that would cling to her stomach or were too short and would make her feel self-conscious about her body. “I was constantly adjusting my shirt instead of enjoying my run,” she says. “Recently I’ve settled on cotton tees and tanks, but I’ve realized the running tees and tanks were much more comfortable and kept me cooler.”
Shirt Goals: Not too tight, long enough, doesn’t ride up or chafe
Run Stats: Arnaiz typically runs four to five times a week on roads for up to 8 miles. “I run to stay in shape, but I also run as a form of therapy. I run when I’m happy, sad, mad, anxious—it helps me get outside and clear my head.” She checked out more than 30 running shirts, tanks and tees before choosing her top-three picks.
Gear-Testing Lessons: “I’ve learned there are running shirts out there that will work with my body. I tried some shirts that I would normally avoid, because I thought they would not work for me, but I was completely wrong.”
Kristen’s top-three problem solvers…
Mizuno Discover Tee
This shirt is so comfortable—the material lies perfectly and the mesh back is cooling on the run. Extra pockets are perfect for an ID or any other little thing. Even though the shirt is dark in color, reflective properties make running in the early morning or at night safe.
Prana Willa Top
Arnaiz was hesitant about trying a tank with a built-in bra, but this surprised her. “The tank was quite freeing,” she says, describing the two layers—bra and top—as feeling more like one. “The tank stayed put and didn’t ride up while I ran and the bra didn’t rub uncomfortably against my skin, so I was able to stay focused on my running and breathing rather than adjustments.”
Saucony Hydralite Tank
Not only is Arnaiz pleased with this tank’s coverage, but the bottom is rounded, giving it a cute feminine touch without cutting it too short. She also praises the light fabric for wicking sweat and not rubbing “in all the wrong places.”