Digested read: test run for the Brooks Juno Sports bra at Bushy parkrun. Hmm, some promise, but I’m reserving judgement until I’ve done a longer and more strenuous run. For now, good in parts. Which is still significant progress in my world. 🙂
This is the bra I was wearing (not the actual bra, but a stock image of one)
and this is the actual parkrun on the actual day I was running in it. A view from the back of the early stages of the course. I might even be in this photo, in fact I most definitely am… it’s just I’m not quite sure where. I’ll be wearing a bright orange beanie hat and my purple running coat. Good luck spotting me! Nice though, isn’t it? #loveparkrun #bushyparkrunisepic
I’m taking my product review responsibilities extremely seriously. If Brooks ill-advisedly want feedback on their bra, than I’m up for it, and not just on any old run either. This
brasserie brassiere would have it’s debut outing at that iconic site of pilgrimage for parkrunners everywhere, Bushy parkrun. Where it all began. This is the narrative I’m going with anyway, even though it is stretching it a bit. The truth is since collecting my sample bra I’d not really been able to face the workout of putting it on again, but fair dos, there’s no point in having it if I don’t give it a whirl, and given I was to be at Bushy parkrun this weekend anyway, why not. One should never get the absolute truth get in the way of a good story. Besides, I’m not sure there is any such thing as objective truth, though I do think the claim of ‘alternative facts’ in some quarters is cynical and tenuous at the very least. Anyway, bottom line, or more accurately top line on this occasion is that my Brooks Bra was in situ at Bushy parkrun last Saturday.
It was pretty cool at Bushy parkrun, but that’s another (long) story, however, suffice to say it was brilliant winter sunshine, ice underfoot but the warmth of a mass descent by Tralee parkrunners on Tour was surely enough to warm the cockles of anyone’s heart. As part of their migration to Bushy parkrun, they were going to greet my mum – celebrity honorary parkrun marshal of Elisabeth’s corner fame – and that point is significant later on, because it meant that I maybe didn’t test my bra to its full workout potential, don’t worry though, there’ll be other runs.
Anyway, you are distracting me. Where was I? Oh yes, Saturday morning, and I eyed my Brooks bra with some suspicion. It has considerable heft, and even looks like some sort of alien life form all of its own. After the heave ho shenanigans whilst trying the darned thing on I was hoping I’d allowed enough time to wrestle my way into it and still make the start line in good time to greet my Irish friends.
In case you haven’t been concentrating, this is the Brooks Juno Sports Bra, it is available in different colours apparently, but I was given the one in black as a sample to try. Frankly though, I’m so desperate for a decent sports bra, if and when I find one that does the job, I don’t care what colour it comes in. It could have sequins and pom poms and a guard of honour of a hundred unicorns escorting me at all times whilst wearing it and I wouldn’t even notice, let alone query it, I’d be so transfixed by its supportive and cosseting properties. To be fair, if I did notice, that would be quite a cool range of accessories though I don’t know if that’s in Brooks production plans just at the moment. If I can’t have a hundred unicorns I’d settle for one, or maybe a pair of dragons. Either would be fine… I suppose if it went for branding along the lines of ‘Make America Great Again’ that would be taking things a bit too far and I’d have to bow out at that stage, but I’m going to stick my neck out here and say I don’t think that’s a planned initiative either. Really hoping not.
This is how the Brooks Juno gets described on their website:
Now normally, I’d run a mile (ironically) from a racer back, because unless you have staff on hand to assist you daily I can’t imagine how anyone can get into them. This bra has a cunning design though, so that although the racing back style is present, you still have a bra strap to do up to the correct tightness after you’ve got the darned thing over your head, so that requires considerably less contortion than the ‘usual’ racer back. You pull it over your head, do up the underband and then finally lob the shoulder straps, which are loose, over your shoulders a few times until you’ve succesfully wrangled them, and then you just slip them through a hole at the front and can tighten them to the required tension.
The wrestling the bra over my head bit was way less stressful this time out. Turns out, it’s a hell of a lot easier to achieve this physical feat when you have a whole room to thrash about it, as opposed to the rather restrictive confines of a bijou running shop changing room. Basically, you just hoik the underband into position and then do up the catch as you would on a conventional bra.
So far, so good.
Of course that is only half the battle. Then you have the straps flailing about. It is a genuinely good idea that these are hanging loose, as it does make it a lot easier to get into the darned thing. However, a consequence of this design decision is you have to work out a way to propel the straps back over your shoulder to the front so you can slip them through the hole and fasten the little velcro strap to the appropriate tightness to give the security required, thus:
I suppose there is a knack to this too, albeit one I have yet to acquire, I basically let gravity do the work and leaned forwards until I had the straps dangling to my prow and then you can reach for them and loop them through. It was easier than I remembered. I’m not sure what my actual maximum heart rate was whilst dressing, as I had forgotten to set my Polar watch going, but you know what, I’m going to do that next time just to see, it can be incredibly stressful getting into a sports bra unaided, would be interesting to see if that does typically end up being the most strenuous part of any work out. We’ll all have to wait and see. Actually, getting off a sweaty sports bra is even harder, I know of at least one friend who confided in me that they had a brilliantly supportive bra that they’d ended up jettisoning, because after they ran in it they were trapped in it mid removal, helpless until someone (I can’t remember if it was a fellow runner, passer by, known family member or a paramedic) came and offered outside assistance to free them. That ended up in the bin. It just seems ridiculous that, for better or worse human kind has put people on the moon and into space, yet for many of us a functional sports bra seems to remain elusive. … This bra, does pass the putting it on unaided test, which is a good thing. I don’t know if that design is unique to Brooks, but I hadn’t seen it before.
Just in case you are in any doubt. These photos are not of me. It’s much more of a performance and test of character when I’m getting ensconced in my breast armour than these models seem to be experiencing. I have always had the good foresight not to allow photographers to be present whilst I’m dressing, but strongly suspect my expression would be somewhat other than serene during my attiring manoeuvres. That model does look extraordinarily pleased with herself for being able to successfully operate a velcro fastening though does she not? I can’t make up my mind whether I find that annoying, and patronising because being able to dress yourself independently is quite a modest life goal and the picture suggests this woman is pleasantly surprised to find herself smart enough to operate velcro without outside help, or whether it reflects accurately the degree of challenge presented by most sports bra, so hence her relief and delight is not only palpable but proportionate in this instance. You’ll need to decide for yourself.
Once on, I remain somewhat undecided about what to make of the bra. It feels erm, rather substantial. It claims not to be padded, but rather ‘cushioned’ I don’t know what the difference is. Because it doesn’t have differentiated breast cups in the way say my current shock absorber does (it describes itself as ‘unicup’ a bit of vocab that is new to me) it is comfy, but I didn’t feel all that supported. Now this might be a question of what you are used to. I’m used to feeling a bit more squished in. My initial reaction to being less squished is that surely this bra would allow for too much movement for comfort. Granted, bras that squish you in aren’t comfortable, but you do at least feel like nothing is going to shift.
Actually, it can be positively uncomfortable in honesty, but less movement. The Brooks is much more comfortable than my current shock absorber, but I’m not sure I felt really held in place. Maybe I’m not used to the style, maybe the cup size isn’t quite right for me. Hmm.
Anyway, off I trotted to Bushy parkrun with my perforated unicup design purporting to give me shape and modesty. It definitely gives modesty, I felt like I had a futon strapped to my front, and it does give shape, just not necessarily a desirable one. However, I am at the point I don’t care too much any more about whether a bra is flattering or not – won’t lie, it would be great if it was – but much more precious is whether it is functional for sporting use.
What I would say is that I very quickly forgot I was wearing it. If I consciously thought about the bra, I did feel that it was still allowing a bit too much jiggling for my liking, but in truth whilst I was running, I wasn’t aware of any excessive movement at all and it is definitely a comfy bra, and I like the racing strap for security. I was also a bit dubious about whether a velcro fitting would be strong enough to stay in place once I got going, but that didn’t move at all once fastened, and the velcro strip is long enough you have quite a bit of choice as to your preferred fitting. Result.
In terms of my ‘run’ well, it was a bit of a special day at Bushy parkrun, because a huge contingent had come over from Tralee parkrun in Ireland and they had kindly brought some birthday cards for my mum in recognition of her recent ninetieth birthday, which they gave to her mid run. She is an honorary marshal/ parkrun celebrity who sits and cheers parkrunners at the 2.5 km point on the course. Obviously, I stopped to say hello, and then got chatting with other parkrunners of all possible running clubs and parkrun event denominations as they too paused for selfies, birthday wishes whatever. The upshot was I ended up pausing here, and only starting up again to finish off the route with the tail walkers, which was highly social and a lot of fun, but not really a proper test of my Brooks bra.
Nice selection of parkrun pics though:
You can see why it took a while… paused there.
So basically, I only really ran 2.5 km and then just did a stop/ start walk /run to the finish. I had a lovely time, which was fine and dandy, but got an all time pw (personal worst) and record breakingly high number finish token to boot! Yes, I do indeed belong to parkrun. Isn’t that lovely!
But it wasn’t a proper full on run test. I did power walk about 7 miles in total, and the bra was comfy for that. It claims to have ‘breathable cups’ with (warning, another made-up word fast approaching) ‘drilayer fabric’ and ‘chafe-free bonded seams’. Now, you need to put this in context of it being a minus a squillion degrees out there, however I was wearing a lot of layers. It didn’t chafe, and yeah, maybe I didn’t run all that much, but another professionally fitted underwired sports bra I tried onec had my boobs bleeding, literally, within 30 minutes of first wearing, so full marks for this one for not only not drawing blood, but also for leaving no permanent scaring and even being seemingly comfy. Not a bad hat trick to pull.
Further more, this bra did indeed feel like it stayed pretty dry, so maybe the breathable unicup drilayer fabric thing has some merit despite its stupid pseudo scientific nomenclature – and I basically forgot all about the trauma of trying out a new bra. So, my intermediate impression is that this is a bra that merits being worn again, and on a ‘proper run’ which is way further up the food chain than most bras I try get to venture. It’s still in the running (see what I did there) as a potentially really good sports bra. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I love it, yet, but I am open minded about it, and it could yet be a significant improvement on my Shock Absorber which I wear because it fits basically, but feels like the least worst of available options rather than an item I would evangelise about or actively like. My plan is, to do a proper long run in the next couple of days and see if I can properly put it through it’s paces. Before that though, there was another big test for this asset protector to pass. The Wash Test.
One problem, I am no domestic goddess.
Now, I want to be really, really clear about some things. Two things actually:
First, I’d never deliberately put an octopus through a wash cycle, not only because it would be a catastrophe for my smalls but also because octopuses are beautiful, intelligent and curious creatures, that can escape aquariums, use jets of water to short circuit light switches and open jars . They have even been reported undertaking trekking holidays in Devon. Though, for the record, I don’t believe they can forecast the result of international sporting fixtures. Well, they probably could, but why would they be interested in doing so? Just too smart to take an interest I say.
Second: I have better things to do with my life than hand wash sports bras, yeah, yeah, I get that I’m supposed to but life is too short and used sports kit too potentially rank for me to faffing about with warm basins of gentle bubbles every time I need clean gear. Anyone who claims religiously to do so, either has someone else to do this for them, or is lying. All my clothing has to take it’s chances in the same wash cycle. Even so, I concede I probably do need to refine my technique if this Brooks Bra and I are to have any conceivable future together.
So what happened is this:
Bra got chucked in with everything else on usual wash cycle, but then my wash emerged in one huge knot, not dissimilar to a rat king in fact, though with less animal matter and more polyester and spandex.
Basically, if you chuck this bra in your wash without a bit of prep then you realise too late, that basically it’s all tentacles that twist and clutch. To be frank, I might as well have lobbed a couple of octopuses and a giant squid in with my leggings and sports tops for the Gordian knot of intertwined fabric that came out in one enormous clump at the end of the spin cycle. Oops. The problem is, you have not only those two loose straps each with velcro fastenings, which have enormous potential to appropriate any other items of clothing they share a washing machine drum with, but also the two loose ends of the hook clasp function as well. What with that, and my running leggings, and my thermal tights, and my long sleeve thermal jumper and my long sleeve running top it was just one huge knot-tying party in there. Terriffic, NOT. Or Terrific knot more accurately… Very tempting to get the scissors out, or at least have a major tantrum.
This is an actual picture of my wash:
I was miffed with myself, although I was able to disentangle all garments eventually, it took an age. Reluctantly, I have to concede that it would have made life a lot easier if I’d taken the precaution of re-securing the straps and doing up the back clasp before tossing it in the wash, I could even have put the boat out, and kept it separate in one of those net delicate wash baggy things. Exasperatingly, I’m sure I’ve got one somewhere, no idea where though. Considering how expensive sports bras are, it would probably be a good investment for me to get a couple more. Maybe, canny sports bra manufacturers would like to start giving these away as freebies to accompany a bra purchase instead of running buffs, which I’ve had as freebies over the years. I’ve got loads of running buffs now, and I do like them, but some bra wash bags would be fab. Thank you for asking. I’m not proud, I’d welcome a freebie! Send lots.
So I spent hours of my life I’ll never get back disentangling the contents of my wash, so be warned. I’ve sacrificed my time so you don’t have to. The result was OK, but not as rewarding as rescuing squirrels from tail entanglement and super frustrating because it could have been avoided.
Afterwards, because I like to torment myself in this way, I did read the actual washing instructions. Now fair play to Brooks, they do concede that you don’t always hand wash your bras. Hallelujah, some basic pragmatism, they suggest the following:
Hand washing is ideal, but not always possible. Fasten all hooks and straps, place in a lingerie bag, and use the gentle or delicate cycle. Always line dry, and never use dryer sheets or fabric softeners—they can clog the fabric and shorten the life of the bra.
Whatever, hindsight. Thanks.
Despite its ordeal by rat king and octopus tentacle, the actual bra seems to have emerged relatively unscathed. I’m torn between feeling a bit guilty if I’ve trashed it through not observing the washing instructions correctly and thinking you know what, the reality for this sports bra is that’s how it’s going to be treated if it shares a life with me. For my road testing to have any merit, I should replicate my honest care routine otherwise what’s the point. Precisely dear reader. None whatsoever.
The plan now is to let it air dry, and then I’ll don it again for a long and harder run as soon as I get a day when I don’t have to stay in for hours waiting for builders or painters or whatever it is. It will be genuinely interesting to see what I make of it second time out.
So in conclusion?
I’m reserving judgement, I can put it on unaided, it’s comfy when worn and seems to have survived my less than idealised laundry routine. It didn’t get me a PB at parkrun, but I suppose I might have to meet my bra half way and actually make an effort to try to run a bit faster through voluntarily moving my legs more quickly to make that a thing in my world again. The bra hasn’t caused any chafing as yet and it shows promise. On the less positive side, it seems very bulky, isn’t very flattering and I don’t quite feel supported. … then again the only times I ever do is if I run with one breast cupped in each hand, and I have resorted to that technique on occasion. I am not alone in this. FACT.
Maybe if I could have some sort of genetic modification to enable me to sprout a couple of extra arms purely for boob holding purposes whilst running – detachable ones would be even better – then that would be fine and dandy and problem solved. Alternatively, it may be I need to tweak my cup size, though I don’t think so, the fit is good. Maybe it’s a question of racheting up the tightness on the shoulder straps instead. Upshot, I’ll stick with it for now and keep it all under review. Watch this space, or not, it’s up to you.
Also this, can’t resist:
The ladies’ bras – not yet something to sing about, but one day… meantime, who can forget this mesmerising top of the pops number?
That’s right. Everyone, but not any more, it’ll stay with you for days now!
I wonder if they could do a follow up on sports bras specifically, if I do get one that truly works, I’ll definitely be up for singing about it!
‘Til next time, hold onto your assets and run, run I say! And don’t forget to report back with your experiences. This woman’s bra seems pretty solidly in place, but I can’t help thinking she should maybe look where she’s going a bit more. Then again, maybe she’s running away from someone playing a medley version of The Ladies’ Bras on a mouth organ or accompanied by ukuleles or something, and you’d need to keep your wits about you and your eyes on your pursuer to stay safe in those circumstances. This is why we should support one another, and respect each others running choices, you never really know someone’s circumstances do you. So don’t judge, just run!
For all my comments on Brooks Bras see here – scroll down for older entries
For all my parkrun related posts click here. Or don’t. It’s up to you. You’ll need to scroll down for older entries though.