Out There: The Bounce Test

"When we find a bra that works, we buy one in every color and pray they don’t wear out after two cycles in the washing machine," writes Susan Lacke. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Breasts can be a drag for many female runners. It’s hard to know just what to do with them.

Men just don’t get it, do they?

Sure, we’ve come a long way since the days of Katharine Switzer, the first woman to enter the Boston Marathon in 1967, but even in today’s modern athleticism, there’s still a strange naivety about the differences between male and female runners. A chat with a male running partner confirmed this:

“You don’t get it, Susan. It’s hard to shop for running stuff. Guys have junk bouncing around. They have to contain it with the right pair of shorts.”

Like I have no idea what it’s like to have things bounce when I run.

Breasts can be a drag for many female runners. It’s hard to know just what to do with them. Contrary to what sport gear catalogs would like us to believe, the average woman simply cannot be active in cute floral running tops with spaghetti straps.

Many of us gals need sports bras that resemble Kevlar vests. Running is supposed to be about the forward movement, not the up-and-down. So we hit up our sporting goods store, load up our arms with multiple sports bras, and plod into the dressing room. In the unflattering light (these dressing rooms were obviously designed by men), we squeeze and squish and manipulate ourselves into an elaborate tangle of lycra, wires and spandex.

Then comes the “bounce test.” If only guys could see what really happens in the dressing room. I’m certain all the mystery and intrigue of the private dressing room would disappear if men could witness this not-so-ladylike phenomenon.

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Women know exactly what the bounce test is. It involves a series of hops, skips, jumps and free-base dives off the tallest building in a 30-mile radius. If a sports bra survives the bounce test, then (and only then) do we consider the product’s other appeal: Oh—it has a cute flower on it! Aww. Moisture-wicking fabric! Well…isn’t that just special?

When we find one that works, we buy one in every color and pray they don’t wear out after two cycles in the washing machine. Bonus points if the bras don’t chafe.

Some women who are—ahem—“well endowed” will never pass the bounce test with just one bra. Unfortunately, these women get the joys of wearing two bras every training session. At the start of every season, my friend Jenn stands on the bench of the women’s locker room to deliver her message like a biblical prophet of all things mammary, arms raised in the air for emphasis:

“LADIES! Double bag so you don’t sag!”

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These lucky ladies require a little extra fortification in order to pass the bounce test. Hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Sports bras, ultimately, serve one purpose and one purpose only: To keep our “junk” from bouncing around. Though I know men have “junk” too, I guarantee you one thing:

Bounce or no bounce, no guy ever had to look at a fellow runner during a marathon and say, “HEY! My face is up here.”

I rest my case.

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About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she serves as Resident Triathlete for No Meat Athlete, a website dedicated to vegetarian endurance athletes. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete boyfriend. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke

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