Bras and underpants
As runners we all create mental checklists before every outing. Shoes, shorts, leggings, jacket, socks – we tick them off in pretty much the same order every time, usually finishing it off with vital pieces of equipment like your sports bra and for an encouragingly increasing number, a pair of sport-specific underpants. But is that really it?
No. How about all those other elements - muscles, energy drinks… breasts? October, after all, is Breast Cancer Awareness month, a terrible disease that can affect more than 55,000 women every year and yes, men too with around 400 diagnosed each 12 months. Remember, every one of us has breast tissue and therefore breast cancer can affect any body irrespective of age and gender. Breasts includes boobs, pecs or chest, so that’s the tissue from your rib cage up to your collarbone ad armpits including your nipples.
Active women have a 14% lower risk of developing breast cancer
Of course, as runners we’re all making a conscious effort to reduce that risk by heading out of the door and living a healthy, active lifestyle (click to read more from Cancer Research), but when it’s a little damp and uninspiring outside keep in mind this key number: being active women have a 14% lower risk of developing breast cancer compared with the least active women. Lace up those shoes now!
Lacing up her shoes was exactly what Caroline Barrett, who has had reconstructive surgery, did. “Running started as a weight loss and fitness routine for me but I quickly discovered that it massively helped with my mental health too,” she says.
“Having that time out in the fresh air with your own thoughts or some good music really lifted my mood. I have had to reduce the amount I run as I have problems with my knees but as long as I warm up, cool down and listen to my body I can quite comfortably run 5-10 km, usually nearer the 5km though I must admit! Running with a group only started for me this summer and they’ve been fantastic. I never realised how motivating it can be running in a group and people are so encouraging and supportive.
Women - have a really good supportive sports bra
“Kit wise I always make sure I have a really good supportive sports bra. It doesn’t’ have to be fancy or expensive but it needs to fit well and stop the bounce! A crossover back works best for me as it seems to spread the weight better. A good fitting bra is just as important as a good pair of running shoes and these should be where your main focus is when you start running. Fancy trousers and tops are nowhere near as important as these two things,” she laughs.
So next time you put on your running shoes and use your subconscious box-ticking exercise before your run as your guide – shoes, socks, shorts, t-shirt… tick – don’t forget that important addition to the list, your breasts. Have a look at coppafeel.org/the-brazette/the-self-checkout for some great advice on that.
Get a proper bra fitting
Naturally, women will understand the role your sports bra plays in all of this, not least from a comfort point of view. True, wearing the wrong size doesn’t mean you’re more at risk, so fear not if everything is in the wash, but come on, who doesn’t want to feel good? After all, that’s what running is all about. Take the time get a proper fitting - click here for some useful advice on this from performance brand Runderwear.
Blokes - don't forget your underpants!
And lastly, all you men out there, while we’re on the subject of comfort, let’s not forget that a vital item that should be on every runner’s checklist – your underpants! Blokes especially are notorious for ignoring the breathability, general comfort and the way they are designed for running performance but seriously like a sports bra, the science and understanding behind what appears to be a simple piece of kit has increased immeasurably in recent years. Thanks to the materials used and the way they are cut, they are vital for sporting performance and more importantly, general well-being.