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Just An Everyday Athlete: The sports bra breakthrough

March 25th 2014 / Grace Dent

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Grace Dent is chronicling her fitness journey for Get The Gloss. This week, she's finally able to enjoy the perks of running thanks to having the right support...

One of the biggest challenges during HIIT training for me with fitness guru Steve Mellor has been making me run. I hate running. Obviously, I love the results, but I HATE every second as soon as that initial 'WOOOO I'M RUNNING!' part has evaporated - about one minute in - and I'm left with pain, panic, a juddering chest which until recently no sports bra could support, plus the humiliation of public grunting. Ugh. No. It’s not for me. I’m just not one of those people. Surely it would be simpler to just get some lovely lunchtime liposuction.

I said this to Steve recently as he was running along beside me at 8am by the Serpentine in Hyde Park, shouting 'LOOSEN YOUR SHOULDERS, stop making fists, BIG BREATHS, YOU CAN DO THIS!' and Steve said if I ever hobble into a session having paid a Harley Street quack £2,000 to hoover fat from my arse, he will never speak to me again. I think it's sweet he thinks this is in any way a threat.

But over the years I’ve developed a stunning artillery of excuses not to run. For example: I can't run in inner-city London, people will stare, and laugh and point and I will inevitably trip and break my wrist and/or be attacked then thrown into the Regents canal by an escaped psychopath (I'm a big fan of the worst case scenario). And, remember, my job is far, far too busy and unstructured to commit to one of those proper 'learn to run' schedules, plus I have a slightly dodgy foot from being stood on by a pony in 1988. And did I mention I become PERILOUSLY short of breath after about 300 metres? Probably undiagnosed asthma. And ANYWAY I haven't got any suitable running shoes.

No. Don't suggest I just pop to a shop like Runners Need as those TERRIFYING places are staffed by actual runners and I get a panic attack thinking about looking like some sort of podgy fraudster who doesn't know the right fitness jargon. And, let’s be honest, one sees people jogging and they never look happy do they? No. In fact, didn't the man who invented jogging drop dead while jogging? Or was that the bloke who invented the Segway? Oh whatever, it's not worth leaving the house for.

Of course the two real reasons I’ve skived from running, despite knowing that running is a brilliantly effective way to increase heart rate, speed up my metabolism and shed dress sizes, was a) it feels bloody horrible and not remotely like sitting on a tall bar stool drinking booze and b) I've never ever had the right bra. I realise complaining about my breasts being so large that they cannot be contained by standard sports bras will not win many side head-tilts of sympathy, in exactly the same way as when my teeny, elfin, sample size friends whine they just can't gain curves and I think 'Bitch, my heart bleeds for you, have a Zinger tower meal and STFU'.

Nevertheless, as a female runner - which I am now - the fact is if one is not supported correctly and there's a judder with every footstep it makes the whole task twice as tough. The right bra will suddenly make you feel streamlined, sturdy and seriously ready for business, not like an amusing chase scene in a Carry On movie. Go and find one now.

I've hit a breakthrough recently with the combination of the Shock Absorber or the Marks and Spencer High Impact - but then with a Spanx body over the top. Get serious about removing all movement and lots of women have told me they double-up on bras. The bra size is vital. I find it's better to choose a smaller bra and basically leave your chest no room for manoeuvre rather than anything remotely 'comfortable'.

Good support has started to be slightly addictive. I've begun wearing the Shock Absorber when I'm not exercising, as now I can run for a bus, or run with the dog or run to the shops when it’s raining. I've started running when I don't even need to. 'You're changing,' Steve said to me this morning. 'I know,' I said and then booked a long boozy lunch in for Saturday before I become any less like me and more like 'one of those people’.

Read more about Grace Dent's journey with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) in our HIIT Squad Diaries.

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