May 2015: First up, though I still try to put up blog content whenever I can, it has been easier to more regularly visit the the Twitterverse. Follow me at @barethomas10 and let's keep the shirtless running flag flying. Of course, the blog still attracts very interesting comments, and good discussion. Keep it up.
Second, in the years since this venture launched, and as shirtless running among women has gone increasingly mainstream, the term "jogbra" has clearly declined in use. I will thus prefer "sportsbra" henceforth - as has already been the case on Twitter, and in recent posts here.
I continue to welcome guest posts (sent to firstname.lastname@example.org) on any related topic, including from those who would discourage stripping to the waist. I am myself of course a fervent convert to the joys of running bare. But let all voices be heard!
Friday, December 11, 2009
There are many races these days where the rule is simply that the event number bib assigned you be positioned 'in the front', meaning it can be pinned to your shorts or jogbra. Even more conveniently, some organisers now issue electronic chips attached to your shoe that tag you as you cross the finishing line, so that bib position becomes less important. Timekeeping is a cinch, among other benefits - including making going shirtless even more fuss-free.
If you're thinking of going shirtless at a race, you'd probably best be already used to going bare-chested during your practice runs (though there is an argument that, since going shirtless can often boost your times, you might want to stick to a shirt during practice and then lose the top for an extra advantage come race day). Given that there will be a lot more people present than during your usual trots round the block, you might get the jitters. You might want to start off in an old vest that you wouldn't mind discarding, so that you can strip down once you've worked up a sweat (at which point, as has been pointed out, the urge to go bare should overcome any residual 'shyness'). Don't forget to pin your race number to your shorts, so as not to have to transfer it from your vest midway.
As a general rule on this blog, it has been suggested that being around other folks who are comfortable going shirtless can be a help. However, this is probably NOT a good idea in a race unless your times are pretty decent, since AS A RULE the shirtless contingent that typically collects at the front of the mass is made up of fast movers. You might have trouble keeping up and that psychic blow could make you feel rather foolish.
However, if you have a specific friend or running buddy - whose pace will be roughly equal to yours - convincing him or her to race with you is wise in any event. Faced with what will likely be a great mass of people, most of whom will be shirted, you can draw encouragement from each other if you are both converts to the shirtless cause.
Friday, December 4, 2009
"For some runners, the solution to running in ridiculously hot weather is to run in as little clothing as possible. Some women run in a sports bra and tiny shorts, and men run bare-chested. Although they may feel a bit cooler, baring some skin can create other problems, such as catcalls from a creepy passer-by. Dealing with the occasional obnoxious heckler may come with the territory when you run outside, especially for female runners. Here's what to do if someone starts verbally harassing you on the run:
- Keep running. Don't stop and start screaming back at the heckler or flip him off. Although it may be tough to ignore him, it's better to keep your distance and continue moving.
- Don't appear vulnerable. When someone starts hurling derogatory comments at you, hold your head high and stay strong. If your harasser tries to stop you, be forceful. Tell him to back off and keep moving.
- Run with a cell phone. It's always smart to carry a phone with you, especially when running alone. If someone is verbally harassing you and you feel threatened, call the police. Give them a description of the harasser and where and when it happened."
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
"Every now and then, I will take a jog outside and notice those runners whose self-confidence and washboard abs allows them to run outside without a shirt and without any shame. How free they seem as they pass me and splash me with the sweat that glistens off their torsos!! As they became but a speck in the distance, I can’t help but look down at my bobbing shirt and wish that I, too, could run without a shirt on... I am a paranoid person by nature and feel as though I am being gawked at whenever I do run outside. I could only imagine how I would feel as on-lookers are entranced by the combination of the hypnotic up-and-down motions of my belly and the glistening and pouring of the sweat as it cascades down my covering-like-a-sweater chest (and back) hair...
(But on a trip to Cartagena, Colombia), I quickly became aware of the horrendously-oppressive heat and humidity that I would need to run through... and began contemplating how I could still go running and not (have) all my clothes bathed in sweat. Dear reader, by now you probably know where this is leading, but if you don’t, let me just tell you that the idea I came up with in that shower that night was at once so delicious, cutting edge and awe inspiring that I could not even reveal it to my dopeness wife.
As the sun rose the next morning and the beef was being dropped in the deep fryer for breakfasts around the city, I stepped into the streets hugging myself, not because I was cold, but…because I was not wearing a t-shirt!!! That’s right, dear readers, I realized that I was in South America, and really, who cares what them natives think of my belly movements or my glistening sweat? “Not I”, I said to the wind (and to the gypsy family behind me trying to sell me junk). And so it was that, with great enthusiasm, one of my many running-related dreams became a reality! Shirtless and unafraid, I hit the streets at a lighter-than-usual pace...
As I sit here now and write this, let me finish by saying that running without a t-shirt is as heavenly as those Dunkin Doughnuts Jelly Midgets!!! The freedom you imagine one feels running without a shirt is even greater than you can possibly conceive. In the end, dear readers, I encourage you to get over your inferiorities and rise to the occasion! As you cross your next start line, I hope that, like your money and other goods you cannot fit in your running outfits, your t-shirt has been left behind!"
Thursday, November 26, 2009
(Note: Much of the following applies to trying out shirtless running for men, with the possible exception of Point 2; call me trapped in stereotypes, but some of the talkie-talkie stuff might be uncomfortable to many a Joe Public.)
1) Start at home: To feel more comfortable with your own skin, so to speak, start by stripping down to jogbra while in the comfort and privacy of your own abode. When doing chores, having a snooze or just lounging about, get used to what it feels like to have much of your upper body comfortably air-cooled.
2) Exploit friendships: You may know someone who is already a confident jogbraed-running exponent. If so, she might not mind company on her runs - and you could very naturally get into sync attire-wise. You might even broach the subject of personal shyness and ask how she got over any inhibitions she might have initially had. Hearing it from another person can help: In my case, learning that one of my relatives was a confirmed shirtless runner gave me an extra boost.
3) Choose your time: It's entirely natural that you'll feel especially intimidated if, plodding along for the first time in your more 'exposed' self, there are hordes of folk toddling past and - or so it will feel - giving your every blemish the once-over. So schedule your first jogbraed runs for times and places where there will be no crowds. Don't sacrifice safety: Late-night adventures down secluded alleys, if in an area where crime is at all a concern, would be highly unwise!
4) Use the 'midway' strategy: Once you are pleasingly warmed-up on your run, with perspiration dewing up diligently, it will feel a lot more natural to be shirtless. If you've been used to being all cladded-up, the immediate difference in comfort will also be very evident. So you might choose to start off on your way fully-attired, and wait till your shirt or tank top is begining to cling or sag damply before determining to remove it. You'll be surprised how those mental obstacles will have been softened and are that more easily smashed through.
5) Stack the deck: To amp up the 'midway' strategy, pick clothing for your run that is thicker than usual, or less absorbent - that way, you'll ratchet up the discomfort level and make stripping off the offending garment a way more inviting prospect. Similarly, deciding for the first time to embark on jogbraed running will be more difficult when the weather is cool (and quite possibly suicidal during winter), but correspondingly easier if you choose a hot summer day. Many 'conversions', by all account, occur when the thermostat has been crawling up relentlessly.
6) Once the first breakthrough is made, keep up the pace: Having tasted the jogbraed life, don't draw back and decide 'to try again in a couple of weeks'. It's natural that the first couple of go-rounds will be accompanied by a certain trepidation that may take away from the enjoyment. It's just like entrenching any habit: A little perseverance pays dividends. Perhaps set aside, for starters, two days when you will go shirtless for every two where you stay fully-clothed: That way, useful comparisons - almost certainly beneficial to ramping up jogbra-time - can be made.
7) Take comfort in numbers (a): There are places where shirtless/jogbraed runners, or for that matter clothes-light sportsmen of some other description, will be thicker on the ground than elsewhere. Parks, trails, neighbourhood hoops courts or soccer pitches would be obvious locales where your arrival would not stand out. So head there if it's convenient, and the sight of other comfortably-exposed torsos could be an inspiration.
8) Take comfort in numbers (b): There are online groups, forums or the odd blog (ahem) to explore where you will recognise in the chatter that there are many, many people who have embraced shirtless running, are interested in taking it up or have begun trialling the option. I try to bring a selection here, of course, but there's no reason why you can't google- or Bing- away yourself. Naturally, some groups or forums will have slants or broader agendas that are not your own, but you can cherry-pick what you need by way of encouragement. Join in the discourse - heck, tell us your experiences in a comment here, or a guest post - and there will be mutual support to draw on.
9) Go bare from the start: This is the critical point, or what might be called 'full conversion' to shirtlessness. Once you've become accustomed to stripping off in mid-run, you'll need to find the psychic reserves to just head out in jogbra from the get-go. By this stage, you'll be somewhat 'hardened' and slightly addicted to shirtless comfort. You'll have become at least partially accustomed to having people's eyes on you, absorbed the odd sly comment and started to see yourself as 'a jogbraed runner'. Initially, you can still bring your shirt along, tucked in for emergencies, but resist any urge to reach for it. Soon it will seem an unnecessary encumbrance that can be dispensed with altogether. Personally, one fine day I just 'went without' from the start, without any momentous clashing of cymbols: The crutch wasn't needed and I left my shirt behind.
10) Mental reinforcement continues: Look back from time to time to when you thought jogbraed running was beyond you. Recalling how much more comfort you now enjoy, just savouring the greater sense of freedom, will help guard against backsliding (which happens more often than you might think!). Your identity as a Jogbraed Runner should now be fully-formed, something you can proudly acknowledge to all comers in the hope that others will come aboard thanks to the example you provide and, where requested, the experiences you share.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Of course, males running shirtless and females wearing only sport bras has become more common over the past 10 years... but does the mere passing of time make it appropriate?
I often pick up my daughters from volleyball practice at their public high school and see the boys and girls cross country team returning from a training run on the streets of our town. Autumn in western Montana often brings many 80-degree days, and more often than not the boys are shirtless and the girls can be seen wearing nothing more than an athletic bra from the waist up. When I ran on my high school's cross country team back in the early 1980's, all boys were required to wear a shirt (nothing less than a singlet) and girls had to wear at least a bra and T-shirt. Now a days, many girls who opt to wear a shirt purposefully cut their T-shirts down the sides so that there is hardly any material there, clearly showing their sports bras, and many boys don't wear a shirt at all - even though there are high-performance, moisture-wicking fabrics available for today's runners.
Why has this trend developed? Is it being influenced by young coaches, media or advertising? Where is the pride in representing your school on your town's streets - or some other town's streets - by dressing appropriately? Do high school kids take time to think about how they may be influencing younger kids, or how they may be offending older people? By running around without shirts on, or in only sports bras, are they really drawing the kind of attention to themselves that they want?
Unfortunately, it's not just the kids that are dressing in nearly nothing to run around my local community while training for cross country races. Often, I see their male coaches (usually 20-something-year olds) running without shirts or female coaches wearing only sports bras.
So, what do you think? Are males running shirtless through communities and females running in only sport bras inappropriate and/or immodest?
"I promised myself if I didn't stop I would allow myself to take the descent shirtless... As promised I removed my shirt, which was one of the most liberating, freeing, glorious parts of my run. However, after running into a couple out hiking, I put it back on out of self-consciousness. I still am not sure where I (a petite, fit, LADY runner) fit into shirtless running etiquette. I know whenever I see a hairy, out of shape, shirtless man running, I think, "just because you can, doesn't mean you should". However, I do believe there is a place for shirtless running (i.e. the trail), I just have to figure out where I draw the line, or I guess remove my shirt."
- from 'Running... Cycling... Etc' (now known as 'Surfing the Stars').
Well, as I see it, runners in jogbras should be accorded all the freedom, and exercise the same sense of responsibility and decorum, as their shirtless male counterparts. I would NOT reiterate this statement without qualification if we were discussing those jurisdictions where women have the legal protection to run bare-chested: Tenaciously-rooted social mores make things a little more complicated. But if we stick to the jogbra scenario, I don't see why women should not feel themselves at liberty to strip down - and indeed, I should say should strip down, for the sorts of health-, comfort- and camaraderie- related reasons salted throughout the posts of this blog.
Still, having lived in various parts of the world, I find it a general fact that a smaller proportion of female runners dares to bare, in comparison to men. Though we ought to understand the issue entirely as exercise-defined, it is often conflated with allegations of promiscuity, flirtiness and immodesty. Where a shirtless woman is potentially at risk of bodily harm or serious irritation, discretion and a campaign of 'sensitisation' would seem the better part of valour. Ideally, she would go jogbraed only with a male runner in escort - also shirtless, in solidarity. My suspicion is that, over time, residents would become accustomed to seeing such a pioneer in the vicinity, notice no drastic collapse in the moral tenor of the community and eventually become sufficiently accepting that she can run on her own in safety. Naturally, the more of such 'shirtless pairings' dare to venture out, the sooner the walls of distrust and excessive reserve can be worn down.
For most women likely to read this post, thankfully, the sort of constraints they feel would be of a lesser degree. So why not be thankful that the jogbra option is available without need for extreme measures, and then try it out? Expect occasional wolf whistles, catcalls and other expressions of male attention, but to the extent to which these do not actively encourage one (and why not!), such incidents would form only a drop in an ocean of what I can promise is a generally positive, or at least indifferent, reception.
[Here ends Part One of this focus on jogbraed running. Part Two will offer some tips on how to summon up that initial courage]
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I was therefore pleased to learn a day or two ago that I had, unbeknownst to me, converted someone fully to the cause. He is, as it happens, an old neighbour - my family has since moved - who had indeed been one of those who had registered evident astonishment years ago when I first began venturing out of my digs clad only in shorts, running shoes and socks. I was rather nervous about it then, and I fancy I can still remember his slightly forced smile. During the rest of my time living in that neighbourhood, I never saw him head out bare-chested to run - or indeed to go running at all - though we remained overall on the most cordial terms.
Still, so friendly had we remained that, the other day, we dropped by at his place when we chanced to be in the vicinity. It was his wife who mentioned that he was somewhat less of a couch potato than he used to be - and that he would come home from work in the evening, change into shirtless running attire and then trot out. Clearly, the wife had no issues with this conversion, and gave the strongest signs that she was thankful I had given him an example to follow. The man himself acknowledged that he felt the better for picking up a healthy habit and we discussed his hope that his rather slothful children would join him less infrequently. Perhaps there will be good news on the 'younger generation' when next we meet.
I can't really say why I should feel fulfilled at having increased the shirtless running community by at least one (I don't think the tardy children quite count yet). But I do know there are many out there who feel the same sense of pride at shedding the shirt (or running in jogbra), and I hope that more will offer up their views or experiences. Do write in!
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
A) When it rains
"If it is REALLY downpouring, I will sometimes go shirtless, just because all my running shirts get heavy and feel suffocating."
- by runner librarian, in a blog comment: click here to access original
B) When it's hot and breezeless
1) "In my opinion, bare-chested with a sunscreen that doesn't block the pores (greaseless) is the way to go. When all is said and done a light shirt offers about spf 15 protection at a huge cost of the body's ability to get rid of heat."
- by Wesley Best, on a forum: click here to access original
2) "I never thought I’d run shirtless but I knew the day was going to be hot and I decided to give it a whirl. In hindsight, it was a great idea!"
- by Natalie in a blog posting: click here to access original
C) To be comfortable
"I enjoy running shirtless because its more comfortable, but only when I'm doing my own, peaceful jog. I don't like to go shirtless around others, it makes you look like you're trying to show something off."
- by runnerboy in a Yahoo! Answers entry: click here to access original
D) To avoid injury
"Whenever possible, I like to run shirtless because it's more comfortable and doesn't make my nipples bleed!"
- by supermanz in a blog comment: click here to access original
E) To gain approbation
"[A friend] (shirtless) had passed us going the other direction and was oohed and aaahed at by the girls with his magnificent physique. So I decided to run shirtless for the last section but receieved no swooning from anyone. Ce La Vie!"
- by Peter Giddy in a blog post: click here to access original
Monday, October 19, 2009
These folks, when they go for their training runs, fall heavily into the 'who needs a shirt?' category.
Among males, a good 80 per cent overall are shirtless as they pad along. Among females, over 50 per cent are in their jogbras, which as you may recall qualifies as 'honorary shirtlessness' in my book. Numerous large groups of males are to be found running along with not even one member clad in a constrictive upper-body garment. Mostly, none of them is even carrying a shirt in his hand or tucked into his shorts, so it is clear everyone had started off confidently bare-chested.
The first thing one might conclude is that, when there is 'safety in shirtless numbers', the natural upshot amongst runners is to shed shirt and run free. For those of us, then, it may often be the inhibiting effect of running alone or with someone who doesn't make the first move to strip to the waist that keeps us all 'topped-up'. Ironically, of course, it would seem then if we take the initiative to take off our shirts, it is at least possible that our running partners, or others in the vicinity, might feel more comfortable following suit.
Friday, October 9, 2009
I was on my way to lunch the other day, the sun burning high in the sky, when I passed three or four boys - they couldn't have been more than fourth-graders - just concluding a game of basketball. They had all stripped to the waist and seemed in the highest of spirits as they ceded the court to a female foursome.
Perhaps 30 minutes later, I was retracing my steps after my meal when I saw that three different boys were now playing. Their shirts were still on, but plastered with perspiration - and the expressions were grim as the ball was passed and shot. In sum, the trio seemed less to be enjoying some healthful exercise as trying to complete an onerous assignment from school.
Now, it may seem like a stretch for me to say this, but I'd go as far as to say that had the troika eased up a bit and peeled off their upper-body attire, they would have enjoyed their workout a lot more. The sun would have warmed them less aggressively and perhaps that indefinable camaraderie that animates shared shirtlessness would have taken hold, making for a spring in step and lightness in heart. And this thought, at least, is easily transposed to running or jogging: Many a time, I've seen a plodder soldiering along bathed in sweat, his shirt literally a-swimming - and pitied him for his refusal to embrace shirtless freedom (I'll admit that, as a man, such sentiments pretty much never strike me when passing a similarly-suffering woman - though intellectually, I hold jogbra-ness to be equally liberating).
The vignette is not quite exhausted. The happier boys I had earlier encountered, as it happened, had still been in evidence as I strolled by after lunch. They were still shirtless and now lounging about in a nearby hut, chatting up a storm with the girls who had taken their place after their game. Now, one can sometimes read screeds online by women who insist that shirtlessness is rude, inconsiderate and lower than robbing the blind. But these schoolgirls must have missed that lecture. The interaction of these youngsters seemed completely natural; the girls themselves were in shorts and T-shirts, but the boys' bare-chestedness was not being held against them. And it leads me to suspect that the great mass of people are similarly free of such prejudices - and so understand that someone shirtless in the name of exercise (whether that be running or some other form) is likely as decent and approachable as the next person.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I’ve seen a recent up tick of blog posts about this topic and the general theme is, no, a man shouldn’t run sans top. It’s considered bad form. It’s cocky. It’s frowned upon. Well, I’m announcing that, on warm summer days, I run without my shirt.
I’m here. I’m shirt-free. Deal with it.
The shirtless male runner is one of the few prejudiced-against groups remaining in the United States these days. Nobody - and I mean nobody - has it worse than us. And we’re tired of it. Though we wear no shirt, we have every right to the road edges and sidewalks. Though you can see the glistening pools of sweat on our chests and treasure trails, we are entitled to a friendly passing runner greeting. If we stumble and fall over a popped-up slice of concrete, do we not bleed?
Do the folks who condemn the shirtless male runner also condemn a shirtless female runner? I think not. No, they encourage it. Double standards!
I know, I know, you are probably thinking, ‘Nitmos, of course you are allowed to run shirtless. My God, those granite chiseled pecs!’ And I get that. When you hear “Beefcake!” shouted at you several times over the course of a leisurely, topless June run, you start to think you are immune to the scorn of the Anti-Shirt Choice establishment.
But I have to support my less well developed (or overly developed) bare-chested brethren (or sistern – really, we ALL encourage that.) We are HERE. We are SHIRT-FREE. DEAL WITH IT!
Have you ever felt the warm summer air pass over the dimpled convex bumps of your exposed areola?
Have you ever let the flood of chest sweat run unimpeded down to your gray running shorts, dampening them in a triangular pattern that makes it appear as if you’ve wet yourself?
Before you head out for a run, have you ever had to inspect your torso and shoulders for flaming, ripe whiteheads to explode (these reflect in the sun and blind passing drivers)?
If you answered No to any of these questions, quite simply, you haven’t lived.
Vote now to show your support for the shirtless runner. We are HERE. We are SHIRT-FREE. Deal with it.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
How many people out there – guys and girls – run shirtless? And for what reason?
Me? In the summer I often times run shirtless. Why? It’s cooler and prevents the farmer tan. Wearing a dry-fit shirt, sleeveless or not, my skin turns 3 different shades:
Shade 1 – the not covered portion of your skin. IE, the part of your arms not covered by your shirt and your watch, and your calves/legs not covered by shorts/shoes. Darkest shade. (And before you ask, I use sunscreen w/ UVA/UVB protection)
Shade 2 – the the covered portion of my skin with my shirt. Dry-fit is meant to be airy and breathable but unfortunately doesn’t block 100% of rays. There are new dry-fit shirts with UVA/UVB protection that are designed to be 'virtual sunblock'. Otherwise, shirts don’t block 100% of sun that comes in.
Shade 3 – the covered portion of my arm from my iPod band and shorts. Simply put, no sun, so those portions are always pale.
It’s bad enough having a farmer's tan, but 3 shades is ridiculous. There’s the argument of “are you really staying cooler?” There are different arguments and theories to this. One the one hand, if you’re not having clothing covering you up, wind helps dry the sweat out and you get a nice even tan. It’s the simple logic of “the less clothes you’re wearing, the cooler your body will be”. But there’s the other argument that wearing dry-fit clothing helps wick moisture away from your body and keeps you cooler, instead of having a heavy cotton shirt weighing you down.
But, given that last argument, what weighs more – a dry fit shirt with minimal sweat or no shirt? Point made.
There’s some people that do it solely for vanity purposes. IE, impress the ladies. And based on other bloggers? Guess it works. In an old issue of Mens Health, it asked what were the top 10-20 things a guy could do that turns a woman on. What was at the top of the list? Running shirtless. So if you need a reason to get into shape, running shirtless to turn ladies on is it. I can’t say that hearing a honk or a “woohoo yea baby” being yelled out the window is such a bad thing every now and then.
And if you’re a lady – the equivalent would be running in a sports bra. Regardless, that takes a lot of guts… it's not like you’re sitting around at the pool or beach. You’re running and things are bouncing…um, yea. You get my drift.I’ve now switched to running shirtless 100% of the time, except for in the gym.
Friday, June 12, 2009
A mere sample of these search terms, from just the last 10 days:
'Shirtless in public'
'Shirtless runner blog'
'women running shirtless' (Note: going jogbraed is honorary shirtlessness in my book)
'dare shirtless jogging' (Note: Go on, try it!)
'gym class bare-chested'
'shirtless running shorts' (Note: Any sort of attire would do!)
'shirtless in public'
'gym class shirtless'
'strip shirtless' (Note: It's a lot more comfortable once the perspiration starts to flow)
'shirtless running forum'
'should I go bare-chested in gym' (Note: If the gym management/school doesn't mind, do!)
'running shirtless in Spain'
These queries came in from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Malaysia, Spain and Zimbabwe.
It just shows many folks are either ready to, or have already joined, our band of happy shirtless brothers and sisters. You won't regret it once you get past any initial jitters. So write in with your experiences, or qualms, or advice.
Friday, May 29, 2009
As students leave their last classes of the day, something inside them changes — they slip off their veils of poise, and they become entirely different people from the dedicated and caring students they were only moments before...
These students do not intimidate prostitutes and murder pedestrians... Rather, they commit a far more egregious act against the humanity on UT’s campus. I am, of course, referring to the practice of shirtless jogging.
If you are eating at this time and are prone to nausea, I advise you put away this article for continuation after full digestion. With this precursor, I will now attempt to describe, to the best of my ability, the horror and torment of male shirtless jogging: Glistening ape hair, plastered by sweat to the flab that undulates precariously up and down, then up and down again. The arms flail wildly to the side, sending spurts of sweat pelleting passers-by in their faces with a resounding “smack!” And should you happen to be downwind from the olfactory producer’s galumphing, you would choke on the stench and collapse to your knees, hands grasping your throat in desperate attempt to survive without severe brain damage. But, of course, I understate.- from 'Objective Observations with Benjamin Miller' (updated Nov 4 2008) as published in the The Daily Texan Online
It's an amusing read, don't you think?
Thursday, May 21, 2009
When I consider the prospect of heading out again, shirtless, there is an increasing sense of apprehension. From this, I have to conclude that those of us who want to go barechested need to keep up the practice, in order to keep away the cobwebs of 'shyness' or embarrassment. Some of it has a certain basis in logic: If we cease to exercise for too long, our bodies become flabbier. But this is multiplied in the mind, until we become paralysed with uncertainty.
I'll be squeezing out time for a shirtless run by next week, before I'm unable even to strip to the waist without being overwhelmed by doubts.
Monday, April 27, 2009
The Shirtless Runner
I am a shirtless runner,
They call me a jogger these days,
But if I run ungirted
I'll spend the night in a gaol enclave
Instead I wear a keep-fit blue tracksuit,
And have shoes of a plastic which grips,
And the vest has green luminous features
That no motorist is likely to hit.
This exercise helps me keep skinny
And the fresh air is good for my chest,
But the time wasted when I ought to be working
Means I live on the DSS.
If I get a job now lorry driving
My fat will come back very soon,
But the lorry-springs will not get broken
And they give 40-ton artics good room.
-- Ken Geach
Park Street, Ammanford(From: thisissouthwales.co.uk, January 16 2009 (Friday, 15:34)
Click here for the original source
Monday, April 20, 2009
I have struggled with myself over going shirtless in a variety of situations, but for some reason I have relatively little problem running shirtless. If I'm out there huffing and puffing, running 4-5 miles, then I am doing more than most 99 per cent of the folks who cling to their couches.
I can run shirtless without having to mess with a wet T-shirt, I love the feel of the sun and the wind on the skin, and an hour several times a week can produce a pleasant tan without overdoing it and getting burned. Most of the time I jog at a track at a junior college near my home. 95 per cent of the people there merely walk the rubberised 1-mile track, but rather consistently I get two kinds of comments from people:
The first is comments on how far I run.
The other is comments about how fit I look.
The comments have consistently been positive. So I just use that for added encouragement to continue on, even if it is a bit cool.
Good luck with your blog. And enjoy your runs!
[Send in your guest posts to email@example.com]
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
When I began leaving my T-shirt behind for my runs, it was not long before I would encounter my neighbours on the way to, or back from, my route. Oddly enough, it felt less intimidating if it was the latter, when I was bathed in honest-earned perspiration. Either way, if I didn't say anything, most of my neighbours seemed to think the best thing to do was to pretend they hadn't noticed me. They would literally stroll right past intently focusing on tree branches and the like. This didn't seem quite right: I hadn't somehow morphed into some other creature just because I had embraced shirtless running. So I began to deliberately greet them with cheery 'Good mornings'.
That had a remarkable effect. My neighbours would respond in kind, maintain eye contact and even offer observations like, 'Had an intense bit of exercise, then?'. It was almost as though we had to break the social ice all over again, forgetting that we had known each other for years: Going bare-chested had disrupted their 'stored profile' of me. But once I adopted the practice of 'making the first friendly gesture', the old 'ignore the man' phenomenon went away, never to return. There were occasional hiccoughs (one couple's year-old-son asked them loudly, 'Why is that man so underdressed?', which distressed me greatly at the time) but overall I had reconnected with my neighbourhood. Not that anyone I know ever followed in my footsteps.
So it isn't really all that difficult, is it? Folks are pretty much the same everywhere, I would have thought, so what works for me should work for most...
Saturday, April 11, 2009
1) 'I'm an exhibitionist': No I'm not. I'm a 'comfortist', if you like, and going shirtless is more comfortable (apart from sundry other benefits, which you might weigh by clicking here). The fact that I judge the sight of my upper body to be not so abominable that I keep it under total wraps is neither here or there.
2) 'I'm a lout': For some reason, whenever disaffected youth decide to riot and smash stuff, there is a tendency for them to first strip off their shirts. This then tars all other bare-chested folk as potentially aggressive, criminal-minded and dangerous. Which is preposterous... though there may be some sort of psychological link, in some people, between baring more skin and 'acting out'. Maybe it gets the testosterone flowing (notice how soccer stars like to remove their shirts when exhilarating after scoring a goal). But I'm as law-abiding and meekly conformist as the next person, most of the time.
3) 'I'm inconsiderate': How does that work, again? It's the people who would insist runners 'cover up' that are being rather selfish, since shirtless runners are not intruding into their personal space, demanding on being viewed or calling attention to themselves. Now, obviously, there are certain other boundaries to be respected - I wouldn't barge into someone's garden shirtless, for instance - but then again, I'm not likely to do so fully-clothed either, unless I had a very good reason.
4) 'I'm an eyesore': At least this criticism is a forthright one: He (or she) who levels it is upfront about considering a person's upper torso as being offensive in and of itself. But since I doubt that there is any societal consensus on this, I feel quite justified in ignoring your position, so long as I don't go out of your my way to annoy you.
5) 'I'm trying to impress girls/boys': As it happens, this accusation may be true with some shirtless runners. But again, I see no reason to extend it as a blanket condemnation. Running sans shirt is hugely enjoyable once one gets past any hang-ups, and can be savoured without reference to any 'pulling' potential. I for one have certainly never considered my shirtless running in this light (but then I'm married).
6) 'I'm a nudist': Some readers may find this to be an allegation that I've just made up, but there really are folks out there who think that to go shirtless is somehow to go 'semi-naked', which is an unnecessarily provocative choice of words. I have a relative who also goes in for shirtless running (what can I say, maybe it runs in the bloodline), and his family call it 'naked jogging'. That's just misleading. As it happens, I'm personally too conservative for naturism, though within limits I can see why it might be a healthy mental exercise, if occasionally practised. But the demarcation between that and bare-chested (or jogbraed) running is clear.
7) 'I'm a radical': If by taking stand in favour of shirtless running, and assorted related positions, makes me a 'radical', then perhaps I can't shrug off this label. But I don't really find it a particularly radical position to hold: I'm not saying shirtlessness should be made compulsory in any endeavour or be supported by state money. I do think runners should give it a try and I would be happy to see the ranks of the 'shirtless brigade' strengthened by voluntary conversions - to bare-chested and jogbraed running alike. But perhaps it's just so I can feel just like 'one of the crowd' when I'm out pounding a pavement. And that'd be about as unradical a sentiment as it gets.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
To start with, shirtless runners are simply a bit of a rarity in my sub-neighbourhood. Just a couple of miles north, or so I've been told on an online forum, they are fairly common; at a park a bus ride away, there's a clique of almost-year-round shirtless regulars. Where I live, however - a fairly dense tract of housing, friendly enough environs, solidly suburban - the bare-chested are not exactly thick on the ground. So - I'll admit it - it gets a little lonely pounding along and passing T-shirted person after T-shirted person. Folks don't quite turn up their noses, but for all their apparent indifference I get the feeling I'm the novelty of the day. There's really no reason that I can discern why we're by-and-large so modest.
The few times I've encountered fellow shirtless folk (male and female) along my route, there has typically been something of an immediate connection. The sense of being an unprosecuted minority drew us together in spirit; just a nod or brief smile was enough to establish the sort of shirtless camaraderie that I've fleetingly referred to elsewhere. Some of these runners were obviously only occasionally bare-chested, perhaps driven to it by a particularly hot day: They carried their shirts in their hands or had a rather uncomfortable look about them, as though caught doing something a little outre. One or two, however, are obviously 'full converts' more settled in their shirtless ways - they are easily marked out by how they have dispensed with a 'safety shirt' about their person.
Down the years and through one change in address, the pattern has been retained. Occasionally, one reads about places where the great majority of runners go shirtless. But perhaps in such locales a backlash by the more conservative residents is more pronounced, with 'damnit, cover up'-type vituperation that spills over into the local newspaper and so online. So my little-noticed existence may after all be the best...
Monday, April 6, 2009
The largest number of visitors have come from the United States, followed by arrivals from Canada, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, Germany, Sweden, Hungary, Spain, France, Japan, Singapore, Italy and a couple of other places. In all, folks from 18 countries have dropped by, with the continents of Europe, North America and Asia all extensively represented.
Clearly, then, running/jogging is a pastime enjoyed globally - and doing so shirtless/jogbraed is an option that is at least of interest to many (if only as a target for darts verbal or otherwise). This blog hopes to bring together views, tips and experiences, so visitors are - again - very welcome to leave comments, express views and especially to offer guest posts. While my personal position is obvious - I hope more folks will come to accept that, in principle, shirts are superfluous to our preferred form of exercise - I do want all poles of opinion represented.
Lastly, I should be happy to contribute - or swop - guest posts to/with any blog owner who wants a quirky take on things. I'll not apologise for being enthusiastic - 'nothing like the fervour of the converted', they say, and I admit to once sniffing at shirtless running -but that's not to say I haven't a sense of humour or sensitiveness to... oh, but wait. That's grist for another blog post, I think.
Friday, April 3, 2009
I was on my usual route when this unfamiliar fellow chugged past me at an impressive clip. However, he couldn't sustain the pace and soon slowed - before doing a very odd thing. He pulled his tank-top half-way up, exposing perhaps half of his torso... then left it there. He walked on for many yards in this manner - and when I passed him, he was still playing suspend-the-shirt.
Now, in my unscientific reconstruction, he had probably been trundling along happily when he noticed an ordinary-looking fellow jogger stripped to the waist (yours truly). And so he quite possibly thought: 'It's a rather warm day, my tan could do with some work and the folks here aren't going to be offended, surely - after all, there's that fellow there!' Accordingly, on my retelling, he pulled his shirt up - before failing to remove it as a new set of thoughts intervened.
'Well, hang on now, do I really want to show so much of myself?', he wondered. 'I don't look anything like the models from the running magazines. What if Neighbour X or Mrs Y saw me? What would they think?' It should be pointed out that, from what I could see of the man, he shouldn't have had major self-esteem issues. Further, it was likely that he - like surely a majority of joggers - had no burning objections to the simple thought of running sans shirt: After all, there he was, halfway there. But what stayed his hand, or so I suspect, was the sort of fleeting doubts that probably could not have stood up to careful examination. Why should it matter, for instance, that he mightn't have made the grade as a Runner's World model? Yet such spiderwebs of concern are enough to provoke a sort of resigned, 'Oh, never mind', surrender - arresting a momentum to shirtlessness, all in a few footsteps' worth of time.
Of course, one is moved to say, if these sorts of garden-variety worries can be met head-on beforehand, and dispelled (perhaps even on this blog), more folks might venture down the path to shirtless running. Folks who simply don't like the thought are perfectly entitled to their view, and are indeed welcome to write in to argue it. But for those who could do with a gentle nudge of encouragement, they are entitled to that too.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Yet we shirtless runners often find ourselves in an oddly apologetic stance. There are two aspects to this, relating to location and physical condition.
On the first, we find ourselves compromising and typically offering to strip to the waist only in less-crowded areas, or on trails, or at night. I used to hold a view along those lines. Yet if there is something disreputable to being shirtless, it would be hypocritical not to reject it always, not accept some sort of ghetto-cising. I would today say that there is nothing aggressive or offensive - as such - in the prospect of unshirted runners anywhere. Since discretion can be the better part of valour, however, I would not offend lightly against the sensitivities of the more conservative parts of the world.
On body-condition, however, a majority of people would probably find the deliberate flouting of an offensively-illconditioned upper-torso to be - at the very least - terribly inconsiderate. It is on grounds of being inconsiderate that I would, on balance, reprove those who offend on that score. However, I am very far from saying that only 'ideal body types' should be allowed the freedom of shirtlessness (and I would myself be easily ruled out here). Indeed, by responsibly running shirtless, the variety of 'ordinary physiques' we would exhibit may help remind people not to be fixated on Hollywood looks and unrealistic role models: Being fit, we would be asserting, doesn't have to be an impossible ideal.
For the great majority of joggers and keep-fitters, therefore, I would say that the time to go shirtless is now, both for the benefits and enjoyment derived and also to help egg society in positive directions. For those who feel themselves still falling short, 'getting fit enough to run shirtless' is often acknowledged to be an effective spur.
Monday, March 30, 2009
1) I've received everything from unmistakeably disapproving raised eyebrows to schoolgirls giggling to each other; anything from blaring car horns to catcalls and yells of "Put a shirt on, mate" could be directed your way.
2) If you do without a 'safety shirt', it isn't really convenient to drop by the corner store on the way home for a few supplies or the morning paper.
3) There are still people that I would rather not encounter during my shirtless runs. Certain old friends and the like. Irrational? If you like. But most folks have their 'hope not' lists, I suspect.
4) If you get used to running without a shirt, it's rather constricting to have to plod along in some form of upper-body wear. So when it's too cold to do without any, one is caught in a fitness 'no-man's-land'.
5) Gyms typically require patrons to wear at least a tank-top, so I've mostly given up on them since I don't do weights and prefer the outdoors anyway. But for those who prefer treadmills and the like, the problem looks pretty insuperable.
6) Depending on the length of run and the weather, the shirtless runner really mustn't forget his sunscreen (thanks to respondents on community.active.com for reminders on this point).
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Simply go shirtless in your runs at least three consecutive times. Chances are you've never done that.
Don't run less or more than you would normally, though you may wish to vary your route or when you run slightly if you'd rather not encounter anyone you know (I know how that feels).
I wouldn't be surprised if many of you find that, after that taster, you'll feel a lot better-disposed to us even if you decide you'd rather not 'turn shirtless full-time'.
If you feel like writing in describing just how much you remain unconvinced, that response will get its due too. And you'll have my thanks for bothering to research what you criticise.
(Full disclosure: I've already run the experiment in reverse, at my wife's urging. I once put on a tank top and ran for a week. It didn't take.)
Monday, March 16, 2009
First, she admitted to being surprised to learn that I had 'turned shirtless runner on her'. She had felt that most men who chose to go shirtless, and to a lesser extent the jogbra crowd among women, were mostly trying to show off their physiques. Yet she knew that I did not fall into the 'exhibitionist maniac' category, so she was interested to know 'what boxes it ticked for me'.
Second, she said that going shirtless was not the worst sin in her book. Worse were men who 'wore mesh shirts with loads of little holes'. If you felt the weather was stifling - or if you felt your body could really bring joy to millions, she said, it was more honest to simply go without a shirt than to opt for 'those things'.
Third, regardless of her personal preferences (hopefully modified by our little chat), she did not think that going shirtless in contexts like exercising or even strolling down the street was to commit some sort of social faux pas. But she knew of friends who thought otherwise.
My friend's observations solidified my sense that to to convert to shirtless running is to accept a certain responsibility: That of potentially affecting the views of the multitudes who simply don't have many friends who admit to being of the shirtless persuasion. Most folks, in other words, simply form their impressions based on those of us they encounter fleetingly in the streets, in the parks or at sports stadiums. There are no doubt out-and-out poseurs among us, but I've no reason to think that the majority of us fall into that category.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
1) Your body cools more effectively: No wicking shirt will do the job as well, whatever the promotional literature may claim.
2) It ensures you stick to your exercise regime: If you know there's more of you on display, you'll make sure you won't cut too many corners.
3) It saves on laundry: If you play tennis three times a week, or run four times a week, that's 12 or 16 shirts saved respectively from the wash.
4) Enjoy the brotherhood: When another shirtless person hoves to view as you run, you feel an automatic bond. Honest to God.
5) It's just ever so slightly naughty: In the most harmless way imaginable, the shirtless runner bucks anoynimity (though if enough people come on board, we'd be the majority, which would change the dynamic somewhat. For now, however, that's not an issue).
6) For those logging serious miles, you avoid nipple-chafing.
7) Get an even tan.
8) Up your speed: It's been attested to by many runners, though it may not apply to everyone, that there's more zing to your step when you're shirtless.
9) Lead the pack: It's the same attraction that draws some folks to be early-adopters of new gadgets. Anecdotally, plenty of potential shirtless runners are held back by reserve and a lack of exemplars. There's nothing like setting an example and seeing someone else gain the courage to turn up in jogbra or sans shirt.
* I've stolen some of these thoughts from others, without remembering who's suggested what. If anyone's got other reasons, send them in and I'll add to the list. *
Friday, March 6, 2009
Until about eight years ago, I'd always felt a definite sympathy for that sentiment, yet there was a countervailing force acting on me: It seemed somehow 'showy' to be removing one's upper-body attire. I was also conscious that mine was not a sculpted physique. This force is surely a 'socialising' effect but it operated on me - as I'm sure it operates on many others - as a kind of mental straitjacket. I well remember a soccer game where, by consensus, one side - the one I was on, coincidentally - had to go bare. I recall feeling both self-consciousness and a sense of gratitude at receiving the imprimatur to go bare-chested.
For no reason that I can readily divine - eight years ago or so, as I've said - I began to embrace my shirtless self. I was jogging semi-regularly and, if the weather was humid and the environs quiet, I found myself removing my shirt - and enjoying a vast improvement in comfort. It was cooler. Perspiration didn't stick to my shirt and I felt an indescribable 'buzz'. My stride picked up and my very senses seemed more acute.
My conversion had begun and there was no going back. I began spending less and less time during my runs shirted, though for quite a while I had a great fear of encountering people I knew while stripped to the waist. But with time, this psychic hurdle began to crumble: After all, I wasn't robbing an old lady, tracking mud into someone's home or doing anything else shameful. I was just shirtless. One day, I was starting out from my home when some final barrier came crashing down. I paused, removed my shirt and threw it onto my porch - and ran on. There are thousands of people around the world who - voluntarily - run, or play sports, or labour at work sans shirt, and I had joined their ranks. I had converted fully.
That, in brief, is my story. I know it is far from unique, but perhaps it is instructive. Having literally 'kept my shirt on' all those years, I now assent to what my friend Samuel said those years ago: "It feels good to be shirtless". It is a happy creed for a runner, and we who hold to it invite others to seek out its truth.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Some folks have a 'thing' about stamp-collecting, others go in for birdwatching or becoming an authority on rare Oriental vases. A 'thing' usually translates into some interesting aspect of one's character, a perhaps slightly-dotty passion that one wants to share.
My 'thing', then, is running shirtless. My times are south of pathetic and I don't have what is called a 'great bod', so I'm not trying to showcase my extraordinary athleticism or Adonis-like physique. But it feels good to stride along with the wind in my hair, the sun on my body. Compared to when I'm encased in a T-shirt or tank top, I feel free-er and faster.
Like many folks who have come to enjoy a harmless, healthful activity, I want others to partake in it. For one thing, there is a camaraderie - or there should be - among those who exercise bare-chested that I find pleasurable and wish to foster. For another, I believe there are many people who would like to go shirtless, but have been held back for various reasons. Hopefully, some of these will be addressed in future blog posts.
I'll just mention three last points :
1) First, in all that I write about here, I include as effectively shirtless women who strip down to jogbras to exercise. They are included in the camaraderie I refer to above, though they will forgive references to 'bare-chestedness', which is not meant to be exclusionary.
2) Second, there are many debates about where and when it is seemly - or otherwise - to be shirtless in public. There are folks who hew to the line that men ought to feel free to strip to the waist everywhere. I would not go so far: Mine is a terribly unmilitant shirtlessness.
3) Lastly, I do hope that readers will leave their comments, share their experiences or engage in dialogue. Perhaps one of us could convince the other of a contrary point of view, or we might together strengthen an argument that we both endorse. More ominously, some may consider this blog a quixotic venture at best, or batty or even a threat at some level. I'll ensure that your voices are not stifled.
If this blog ends up convincing just a few folks to shed the shirt - even if it's to 'give it a try' - I'll feel that it's been worth the effort invested. For those who might return occasionally to it as a mildly barmy enterprise, you are a welcome visitor always too.