How to Tell If Your Sports Bra Needs Updating

I posted a photo on Facebook (don’t forget to like my page) last week of me in my sports bra. I am really self conscious of my stomach and have never run without a top on, however I’ve been following Kelly Robert’s training for Chicago, and her awesome attitude to a runner’s body, so on Thursday I joined the #SportsBraSquad.


I ran 20 mins at 8.40 pace, 8 mins at 8.12 pace at my gym, where the heating seemed to be on full blast and I was sweating profusely during the warm up. Although I felt a little uncomfortable about it, instead of focusing on my exposed tummy, I thought about the marathon coming up next weekend, and how excited I am to work my ass off for Tokyo marathon when training starts…

This body may not look perfect, but it runs marathons, and that’s pretty awesome.

boobydoo sports bras - therunnerbeans

Sports bras have improved a lot in the past few years, I remember when I first started running in my size there was a choice of Black or White – and nothing else. Luckily things have changed, and even in a 32DD/E there are a range of options, styles and colours.

Boobydoo, the online bra retailer sent me a couple of sports bras to try from their collection, giving me the chance to try some new styles and brands.

is-it-time-to-update-your sports bras

A sports bra should never see it’s first birthday…

Your sports bra needs to be replaced every 30-40 washes. Running is one of the most high impact activities that you can put your bra through – no matter the size of your chest, meaning that your running sports bras need to be replaced more regularly.

Decent sports bras aren’t cheap, so extend the life (and integrity) of yours by following washing instructions carefully and never tumble dry them.

Ensure you’re wearing the right size bra, if it chafes that is an indication that it’s too big. If you don’t replace your sports bras regularly then the fabric will stretch, reducing support and potentially leading to some painful chafage.

My top tip would be to find a sports bra that you like or a few styles, and keep an eye out for sales and discounts – keeping a good supply of them!

What’s the life span of a Sports Bra This obviously differs between people and bras, it depends on how often you use it, wash it and what you use it for. Running is one of the most strenuous activities you can put your bra through (especially those of us that are ‘blessed’ with larger chest friends) and therefore decreases the life span of the sports bras you run in most often. Shockingly to me, Carol at Boobydoo, and Sophie at Moving Comfort told me that ‘a sports bra should never live to see its first birthday’– WOW that means a lot of my bras need to be retired! Washing Your sports bra should probably be replaced after aprox 30-40 washes, as this damages the fabric’s properties. Dependant on which manufacturer’s bra you wear, they will have washing instructions. Some of the bras are machine washable, some are hand wash (especially if they have an underwire). I would never recommend tumble drying as this will shorten the life of the bra even more. (Carol, Boobydoo) In the past, I’ve had people recommend that you handwash your bras whilst wearing them! This is a little much for me, but I do understand the need to be gentle with them. Chafing During training for my first marathon, I did experience some under-boob chafing but since I was fairly new to running, I thought this was part and parcel of the sport as a larger chested lady. I’ve also spoken to friends who have chafed so badly that they’ve bled. Apparently the main reason for chafing is that your sports bra is too big! As your run progresses and sweat builds, there will be movement and chafing!! Hence why a bra that doesn’t chafe on a 3 mile run becomes unbearable after 13 miles! ‘To try and avoid chafing it’s worth tightening up the bra if possible. If the cups are too big as well, then the movement of the breasts will also cause additional movement adding to the chafing issue. If the bra isn’t replaced regularly then the fabric stretches and you won’t get the same amount of support, and this again can lead to chafing.Our breast size can fluctuate throughout the month, so you might need a couple of sizes to accommodate the changes.’ (Carol, Boobydoo) Carol told me that even using Bodyglide or vaseline won’t help if the bra doesn’t fit correctly. So, turns out I may need to replace a LOT of my sports bras. I took to twitter once again to find out what runners recommend, and asked some of them to tell me a bit about their favourite sports bras to help your choice (and mine) become a little easier!

Lets start with my fave of the bunch from Boobydoo – the Triaction Extreme Light sports bra from Triumph.  It’s not a style I would normally pick, without a racer back, but I found this incredibly comfortable, easy to put on (and take off) and you can actually cross the straps over at the back if you like.

The padded straps, and thick ‘low friction’ band meant that I was happily chafe free after a super sweaty 16 miler in Atlanta, as well as last weekend’s half marathon. I actually love it so much, I may well wear it for the New York Marathon. The smart 3D powertech technology helps the bra mould and adjust to your body, prevent bounce and eliminate chafe, whilst the fabric is soft and antibacterial – great for this sweaty runner.

when do you need to replace your sports bras

Another bra that I tried was the front zipping Falke Versatility Maximum Support bra top – nothing like anything I own currently. It looks like more of a yoga bra, but with a lot more support thanks to the double layer.

I didn’t love it for running as I just didn’t think it was supportive enough, however it was perfect for spinning, cycling and yoga. I also imagine it would be perfect for Barre and other classes.

sports bra review Boobydoo

The only one I didn’t get on so well with was the Berlei High Performance Sports Bra. The cups just didn’t fit quite right, and it felt more like a normal bra than a sports bra. Apparently it’s Serena William’s preferred bra, however with the underwire, it didn’t gel for me.

sports bra review from Boobydoo


  1. October 31, 2016 / 10:10 am

    OMG. I have a sports bra that’s literally 5 years old. I think I need an upgrade ASAP. Even with no boobs (34A!), this post has made me reconsider my bra-choices! Maybe something for my Christmas list!

    • October 31, 2016 / 2:21 pm

      I’ve just thought the exact same thing. I’ve had mine for years….! Oops.

  2. October 31, 2016 / 7:04 pm

    wow I rotate the same ancient bras – but just added two from Lululemon I quite like. Thank GOODNESS

  3. November 1, 2016 / 12:18 pm

    ah. Better throw away the ones I got before my 10 year old daughter came along then..

  4. Pauline Ridel
    November 6, 2016 / 7:40 am

    Hi Charlie, I think you and your stomach look just fine in the pic at the top of the page.
    I’m a long-time Boobydoo fan but recently found some colourful and attractive sports bras at M&S (I’m a 34DD/E) , with really helpful fitting advice too.
    All the best for New York!
    Pauline X

  5. Claire
    November 6, 2016 / 8:07 am

    Sorry but I think the statement “should never see its first birthday” is a little bit sweeping. If you exercise a couple of times a week and have several, they should manage two years if washed (and more specifically, dried) correctly. Having said that, that you so much for your reviews. I’m the same size as you and I run once a week , go to the gym a couple of times and play squash , so I have a variety of bras for the individual sports. But running is the one that tests them! I’m tempted to try the Triumph one, as my usual go-to running bra the ubiquitous Shock Absorber is a real pain to put one.
    Love your leggings! Are those real pockets? What brand are they?

    • charlotte
      November 7, 2016 / 1:59 am

      Just ran a marathon in the triumph one and zero chafing, highly recommend! The pockets aren’t real 🙁 but they’re from Varley! x

  6. November 6, 2016 / 12:50 pm

    Hi much depends on the quality,how looked after and worn for what use one way to make any last is to handwash cool in likes of soak not normal harsh washing powder etc which degrades elastic/fabrics.
    Also how you store them don’t leave any in wash basket sweaty for days or damp/cooler places plus out of light as UV degrades much.
    It’s an investment so look after it as that investment looks after your breasts!

    One i like(spoke to boobydoo about it)is the Glamorise 1166 non wired deep band neat concept as has an adjustable front layer/cover you get 4 levels of support on 4 brings them in close can even wear under T shirts and not showing wearing bra even.

    Other is Elomi EL8040/1 different concept to many other in that held by the cups more double lined esp over wires so no poking/rubbing it does make you more out “there” but so comfortable no movement i wear for cycling or just being me every day it’s that nice. it comes in normal colours plus red and now deep blue with yellow trim.

    Another is the Anita 5529 very cool in a smart fabric non wired has a silicone band/line on inside of front band that stops any moving up rounds you out slightly like many do but no movement either they also do 5527 not tried that yet slightly different style/fabric but many say great and Anita don’t normally make poor bra’s also have matching sports briefs unlike many!

    Before you ask im a guy that’s grown! im 42G/44F cup UK as ive Prolactinoma had very high prolactin levels plus have high E/low T then given T hrt which messed many things up plus got lots of tissue growth
    Learn’t alot about bra’s/breasts and i don’t buy/wear poor quality ones like you i take care of them in part if not wearing they become tender/sore which in turn effects other things as also having Fibro/Raynauds if can be painful it will!
    So to me i look for a good fit that supports well one reason i wear Primadonna Deauville.

    So take great care of them and please do get them checked regularly.

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