August – Lesson Learned in Gear and Clothes

 

Amphipod water bottleA few discoveries about clothes and gear I made along the way that are specific to smaller framed women:

HYDRATION – Hydration is really important in the heat and humidity but it’s tough to find the best way to bring water with you. My running route is not through a park, so there are no drinking fountains along the way. I do pass by bodegas, but the C25k and C210K programs are very regimented down to the minute, so I don’t want to stop for too long. So I have to bring it with me. I tried a small sized Fuel Belt but I have a very small waist and I couldn’t get it tight enough. It didn’t just bounce a little, it bounced several inches. I finally went with the Amphipod hand-held 12oz water bottle. I thought it would be uncomfortable, but it’s been great. TAKE AWAY: Hydration belts don’t work. They are way too big. A hand-held water bottle is the way to go.

Saucony running shorts

CLOTHES – I thought I had light-weight, breathable clothes in high-tech fabrics. But you can always go lighter and more breathable. I found some shorts by Sacuony that made a huge difference, as did a tank from Brooks. I have a hard time finding tanks because I’m pretty narrow and the armholes are often too wide and chafe. However, both Brooks and Sacuony make great tanks and both are very lightweight and breathable. The Brooks tank is a racerback and it feels even cooler. TAKE AWAY: Brooks and Saucony are cut really well for smaller framed women.

SPORTS BRAS FOR RUNNING – This is a tough one. I’m a 32 C/D. It’s hard enough to find regular bras that fit that come in this size, let alone sports bras. A lot of people love the MOVING COMFORT:  JUNO but I found the velcro straps uncomfortable. Not only did they come undone several times, they hit right on the collar bone. On the other hand, the MOVING COMFORT: LUNA bra is amazing. It’s a compression/encapsulation bra. It’s very supportive with NO bounce whatsoever. At the same time it’s really comfortable and, surprisingly, figure-flattering. You could actually wear this as a daily bra and be very happy.  TAKE AWAY: Moving Comfort is awesome. I like the Luna.

SPORTS BRAS FOR TRIATHLON: This is a tough one. The quick dry bras made of cool-fit and other materials are really only suited for A/B women or low impact activities. There are plenty of forums that talk about how great the CW2 bra is for triathletes, but it doesn’t come smaller than a 34. In fact, of the many forums I found that discussed and reviewed bras for triathletes, the bras that were discussed favorably either didn’t come in a 32 or would only work for A/B. A few that did come in my size that women seemed to like were the MOVING COMFORT: Juno and the UNDER ARMOUR: Endure. As mentioned previously, I found the Juno uncomfortable. The Endure comes in cup sizes but not in band sizes and I found that it was either way to small or too big. So I bought the UNDER ARMOUR: ARMOUR. It’s a new bra this year and comes in both cup and band sizes. I ran with it this morning on a somewhat hot day. It’s a compression/sling bra and, while I didn’t feel as “locked and loaded” as I did with the Luna, it felt better than any Champion bra I’ve used. I’m not sure that it will dry any faster – or that it’s any more moisture wicking, than the Luna, but I think it will be better to swim with. The Armour is a modified racer back (with clasp) while the Luna is not so I think the Armour will give me better freedom of motion in my shoulders. I tried the Shock Absorber bras but they were very difficult to get on – my shoulder actually hurt and I still wasn’t able to do the clasp. Also, I’m not sure that the seams wouldn’t chafe. Finally, I tried the tri-bra from (CWX? – have to confirm) last night. The extra small was painfully small and the small was too big. It’s certainly more supportive than any other tri-specific bra I’ve seen, but it’s still not as supportive as the Armour, which is not as supportive as the Endure, so I think for a C/D cup, it’s not worth it even if it did fit properly. THE TAKE AWAY: Too be determined, but Moving Comfort and Under Armour seem like the best bet. Update: The Moving Comfort bra dries much faster than the Under Armour. I’ll be looking more carefully at Moving Comfort racer backs in the future.

CYCLING: Back in my Colorado days, I had a women’s specific mountain bike and a compact frame road bike. The stem was shorter and the handlebars were narrower with a smaller diameter. The seat was also women’s specific. I’m sure there were other modifications, too. It makes a big difference. Particularly the width of the handlebars. It turns out I was having knee pain because my hybrid frame was too small. I was having shoulder pain because the handlebars were too wide. I put it on Craig’s List and sold it 36 hours later. That afternoon, I bought a used road bike from Craig’s List. It’s a unisex compact frame that ws owned by a woman who swapped out the stem and the seat. It fits great. TAKE AWAY: Make sure your bike fits!!!!

 

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