Bravo, jogbraed converts!

July 20 2013: If there's one trend I've really noticed in the last year or two, it's one I've written about: Women are blogging about going jogbraed in increasing numbers, and identifying with shirtlessness with elan, confidence and wit. This bodes well for more conversions amongst both sexes: We all know the ladies are the real thinkers!

Meanwhile, thank you for all for the comments and insights, fellow shirtless runners newbie or veteran. I continue to welcome guest posts (sent to barethomas@gmail.com) on any related topic, including from those who would discourage stripping to the waist. Let all voices be heard on this site!

Monday, September 23, 2013

[Guest post] Something for women: Choose the right jogbra for running shirtless

 [Let it never be said that this blog does not try its utmost to support shirtless running by both men and women. Zhuang Ping volunteered this how-to guide: And though this is all pretty much Greek to the owner of this blog, I'm sure it will be of use to any female converts to our cause!]

By Zhuang Ping





Women have obviously broken into the workout world, giving men a run for their money when it comes to toning and muscle building. And while weights and aerobics might be some great ways to get a good exercise in, nothing beats running shirtless (well, with a running bra that is!) through the wind, gaining speed and toning every muscle of your body to achieve the toned body you've always dreamed of. However, you don't want to run shirtless with a running bra that is restricting and lacking flexibility, so which running bra should you choose before heading out for a run?

1. Type or Running Bra
            There are four main types of running bras you need to know about in order to determine which bra is right for you. The four types include compression, combination compression/encapsulation, encapsulation, and shimmel. A majority of companies will sell all four types of bras, and if you want to save on your purchase you should get bra coupon here.

-          Shimmel: A shimmel varies slightly from a regular sports bra. This is because they don't cut off at the rib cage. They resemble a tank top, but have a built in shelf bra to help support a woman's physique. If you're planning on doing a 5k marathon, this probably isn't the best option. But many women prefer a shimmel for runs around the neighborhood as they are comfortable and cute. The perfect in-between when you're not quite ready to show off your stomach to the public.

-          Compression: A compression running bra works by pushing the breasts up against the chest as much as possible to restrict movement. This particular bra is best suitable for A and B cups as woman with larger cup sizes may find it uncomfortable.

-          Combination Compression/Encapsulation: This particular style of running bra combines comfort, support for each breast, and only minimal amounts of compression. Best suited for C and D cups!

-          Encapsulation: An encapsulation running bra does not have any compression or restrictions of movement. Instead, this type of bra uses support which surrounds each breast separately. Ideal for D and DD cups!

2. Band
            Next you need to consider the type of band you’re after and the size you need. There is basically two types of bands available, including narrow and wide. Wide bands offer more support than narrow bands. To figure out the size band you need, measure around your rib cage near your breasts. Add 5 inches to whatever your measurement comes out to be, and if you measure above 33 inches only add 3 inches.

3. Straps
            Straps are an important factor to note when choosing the right bra. While it's partially a matter of personal preference, women can also determine the type of strap based on the impact level. Scoop-back sports bras for women are best for low and medium impact runs while racer-back are sports bras for intense running and sprinting as they offer more support. Also consider size of the strap, as wider straps offer greater comfort than narrower straps.

4. Underwire
            Lastly you need to consider whether or not you need underwire in your running sports bras. The underwire in a sports bra will typically be made of plastic or metal and provides utmost comfort during wear.

Bio: Zhuang Ping is a writer with over 3 year-experience blogging about fashion and fitness. She has a great love for all things glitzy, glamorous, and healthy, while also paying close attention to the hottest deals on the market.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

(Guest post) How running shirtless makes me a better branding guy

Doug Brown was kind enough to allow his post at Brand Intervention to be reproduced on this site. It extends the benefits of running shirtless into the branding arena.



I prefer running to every other form of summer exercise because I don’t need much in the way of gear to get going.

Shoes and shorts. A shirt to prevent mass hysteria. Sunglasses to reduce the glare, and a cap on my head. Tunes and podcasts seem to make the miles fly by, so I take my iPod along. And I keep an eye on the time with my trusty old Timex sport watch.

With these, I’m ready to go.

This week as I was cruising along through Esquimalt, fully kitted with the gear I’ve mentioned, I was struck by a thought: How much was all this gear removing me from the essence of what I was doing?

I wondered how much more authentic my experience would be if I peeled away the superfluous.

This is a principle marketing philosophy of mine, which I might summarize as reductio ad absurdum. To get to the heart of anything, you reduce elements to the point where further reduction renders the thought or the action, incomprehensible or absurd.

So yesterday I went for a very different run: one without audio distractions, visual barriers, time-keepers or unnecessary gear.

I took it one step further by going shirtless. All I had left was a pair of shoes and shorts.

Honestly, I felt naked as hell for the first few minutes. But then I relaxed and connected to the experience.

It was probably the first authentic run I have had in 20 years. I was fully present in the essence of the activity, not distancing myself from it by add-ons. To remove any one of the remaining elements would have created absurdity or injury. Or a police chase!

Reductio ad absurdum is the perfect criteria to measure against any brand definition, idea or ad, because it strips away the unnecessary and gets to the heart of the thing.

Running virtually naked is an excellent reminder of the principle.

No, you can’t see a photo.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Becoming a shirtless runner (III): A basic level of fitness required?

Below, upgraded from the Comments logs, are two sparkling first-person accounts of how two runners first went bare-chested. They are great and inspiring reads. What is interesting is that Nick's is actually a reminisce from many years ago, while Paul is fresh from the front. Yet in comparing the two reports, the similarities clearly outweigh the differences: Running sans shirt is an experience all can share.

One point of note is that, in both 'conversion' accounts, allusion is made to having attained a certain basic level of fitness ("got fitter, a little bit more toned" vs "running for a year, confident about doing a 10k"). There is no doubt that someone who is extensively overweight would feel considerably more nervous about doffing his upper-body attire; he would also be much more likely to attract opprobium. But is this fair?

Well, when we go out in public, we do not expect to have to dress in our finest. At the same time, too, if you insist in going about in filthy rags, I do not think you should be fully surprised - or nurse deep resentment - if you get more negative attention than you might like. One might feel that 'it is none of anyone else's business'; at the same time, we are all members of the community and while the days of shunning are thankfully behind us, I cannot in all honesty agree that 'it never matters how presentable you are'.

Transposing these thoughts, then, to the question of barechested or jogbraed running, it is no wonder that a bit of 'making sure one is presentable' pays dividends in terms of greater peace of mind. Which translates, then, to a more fully transformational first-time-shirtless run! Perhaps more importantly, you would be also reaping rewards in terms of health and fitness - regardless of whether you stay shirted or not.


Paul's story:

So I went for my first shirtless run today! In the past 16 months I've lost 39 pounds (not far off three stone) got fitter, a little bit more toned and completed a 500 mile bike ride through France. I've also signed up for one of those 'Tough Mudder' obstacle challenges in October, so I thought a bare chested run was achievable! I'm short and fair skinned, age 33 and certainly not 'ripped' but nonetheless I did feel that 'sensuous buzz' and yes, I admit, did feel a bit more 'sexy' than your average run. I'd just been to my local gym and two guys were working out shirtless there. Now, they WERE very ripped with amazing bodies but it did give me some confidence. It was just round my local park, the weather was dull, cloudy but warm (I do live in the UK after all!) And no one batted an eyelid. It felt great, very practical, comfortable, sexy and cool (not that I generally see myself as any of those things!) And I'll definitely be doing it again.

Nick's story:

I first ran shirtless in a race--my first race. I had been running about a year by that time, and felt excited and confident about doing a 10k. It was a warm spring day; some guys were shirtless It all seemed so natural and relaxed. The next thing I knew, I had pulled off my shirt. Nobody paid any attention--I was just one of several.

It was the most exhilarating run I had ever had up to that time. I felt ten pounds lighter; and for the first time, I had that experience others have described so well: the shock of pleasure from the rush of a cool breeze over my skin and the sudden tightening of my nipples.

After that, it was easy to go shirtless on a run. I usually started off with a "safety shirt," but then pulled it off when I was away from my neighborhood. Gradually, i got used to leaving the house without it. And I wasn't the only shirtless runner on my routes.

If you are considering going shirtless on a run for the first time, I recommend a race. If you can finish a 10k you shouldn't be worried about being in decent shape.

That was a while ago. I am 75 now, and no longer run shirtless, but I have never forgotten how it felt. It added immeasurably to the joy of running.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Becoming a shirtless runner (II): That First Day

Say you have been running or jogging for a little while and, whether egged on by the example of others or not, have come to nurse the thought of dispensing with a shirt.

Very likely, in runs past, you will have been held back by certain apprehensions. But there comes a day when you are ready to shed that top for the first time. How might such a day go? Drawing on my own experience, and that of others who have recounted their 'first day', here is how you might launch into your first day as a shirtless runner - and what to expect:


(I) You would have begun by trotting along, at your accustomed pace, and a build-up of perspiration would have begun to niggle at you. The familiar thought arises that it would feel pretty good to remove that irksome upper-body garment that is beginning to get soggy and restrictive. Someone may have passed you, striding along without a top, reinforcing the temptation. However, another part of you is urging that you hold back: You would look daft, someone you know might see you, a cutting remark might be uttered within earshot.

(II) But you are not getting any more confortable along, and now you tell yourself: What exactly am I worrying about? I know that there are other runners in the neighbourhood or elsewhere, known to their neighbours or loved ones or running partners to be partial to going barechested or jogbraed. They seem to be doing fine. How are they different from or superior to you? You decide that these wisps of apprehension - which have stopped you perhaps multiple times in the past - are so many will-o-the-wisps, with no substance to them. What the hell! You arms reach down, and before you know it, your shirt - incredible! did I really do this? - has been stripped off.

(III) Immediately, what breeze there is seems to have been magnified in effectiveness. Your skin has been freed to do its job of wicking away heat and perspiration. Your senses feel preternaturally sharp; you are especially aware of your body - your stride, the way you are holding your core and posture. There is a prickling of delight, a frisson of freedom: Without thinking, you pick up the pace, move faster.

(IV) The counterreaction now sets in: Your love handles seem to be calling out 'Notice me!' to all and sundry. You become increasingly sure you are a ridiculous figure strutting along. Every indistinct figure approaching appears to be that of someone you know; you begin to imagine the things they will say ('Hey, Ron! What's with the half-naked look!') or - worse - will giggle over later even as they soberly greet you ('I saw Terry this morning; he's joined the shirtless brigade, and heavens wasn't there a whole lot of jiggling going on'). Was that someone taking a cellphone camera shot, to be Tweeted along with a snide comment or two? What was I thinking? I need to put my shirt on right now.


(V) Even as you are thinking this, however, you have been loping along and there is now a full, cooling sheen of perspiration enveloping your bare upper body. As you heft your damp tank-top, the thought of pulling it over yourself again is not an attractive one. And amidst the negative thoughts, others poke through too: That the sun on your skin is pretty delicious. As is this heightened awareness of one's surroundings. In fact, I'm feeling a burst or two of confidence: I don't need to stay encased in maximal clothing. I'm proud to be safeguarding my health and fitness through exercise. Why should I not be minimisng extraneous attire? There's nothing lurid or obscene about such confidence! Indeed, it's making me feel a little, well, sexy... and why not?

So might you conclude your first run as a convert to our shirtless cause. The apprehensions won't be going away immediately, but now that they have been bested once, their hold will have been weakened. Possibly permanently.




Friday, October 19, 2012

Becoming a shirtless runner (I): How does an example inspire?

Note: This begins a projected series of musings on that interesting process through which one changes from 'someone who runs with a shirt on' to 'someone who runs without'. Thoughts on this quite complex topic would be very welcome, whether you are a shirtless runner, an adamant opponent or no partisan of either side.

 Let me start with an inspiring tale from PHIL, straight from our Comments archives:

I met up with a buddy of mine for his first 5k race last weekend. He had been running on his own for the past few months so knew little about what to do at a race. After picking up our bib numbers, my buddy asked what to do next. I told him the race number goes on your shorts and to run without a shirt. I could tell he was uncomfortable since he paced around a bit, but once my shirt came off he did the same. Most of the shirtless runners were in the lead pack so I thought he might be peeved at me for telling him to run shirtless since we were far from the lead pack, but it went well. We met up the other night for a quick trail run and to my surprise he showed up shirtless, and he thanked me for showing him a better way to run...

Many's the time I've heard it reported that the journey to 'dispensing with the shirt' starts with the example of a friend or acquaintance. But if we converts actually consider their own experience, exactly how does an example 'act' on us?

One possibility posits a 'neutral' exerciser who has never considered the possibility of going shirtless or in jogbra. Then, along comes someone doing just that: A mental bomb goes in your brain and you think: 'Heck, that looks comfortable. It makes a lot of sense. Maybe I should try it...'

To my mind, however, it is unlikely that most of our conversion stories begin this way. Had our minds been really in this neutral state, we would probably 'think practically nothing of' the appearance of a shirtless would-be-exemplar; we would simply immediately ignore or forget it, beyond perhaps a momentary bemusement or amusement.

I propose instead this scenario: By the time someone's example can jog us decisively in favour of stripping down, we would likely have been already engaged in an internal conflict. We would have experienced a certain constriction or discomfort in the course of physical exertion; the thought of removing the upper-body garment would already have been stirring as a pleasurable prospect. However, and this is critical, a contrary notion would have been trying to snuff it out. This 'opposing' notion might take the form of doubts regarding whether one's body is in decent shape for 'exposure', or whether one's friends or neighbours might be amused or scandalised.

It is only when such a tug-of-war has already begun, perhaps in some mild way, that stumbling across an 'example' or 'inspiration' can make a difference. At some level, the forces within us that have been urging shirtlessness would receive vindication or reinforcing. Opposed arguments suddenly seem weaker: The more the exemplar is an otherwise trusted or respected one, the more of an effect he or she is likely to have. To use this blog as an example (it is, after all, a 'friend' to all who would run sans shirt), I have received numerous notes from folks to say the writings therein have strengthened their impulse, or wish, to join the shirtless cause. I have yet to receive a communication from anyone claiming that said writings felt like some 'bolt from the blue', so that they had gone from 'never giving shirtless exercise a moment's thought' to now holding it a pleasing possibility.

If I am right, the importance of setting an example is not diminished in any way. Indeed, it becomes even more important. After all, we really need not concern ourselves with the 'doubt-free' of the world: Those to whom the very notion of going shirtless is a dead option, worth only a moment's disparagement, or indeed those to whom stripping down so is so utterly natural that they have been doing so forever. Perhaps most people fall into this 'doubt-free' camp: We need wish them only happy lives. Yet if we agree that there are many out there who are caught in a upper-body no-man's-land, both wishing-to yet fearful-to, then surely the value of 'showing the way' becomes undeniable.

To take Phil's story, we now see that it is likely that his running buddy was already gripped with a prior degree of internal conflict. The seed of shirtlessness must have already been planted, yet contrary conditions were keeping it from germinating. Note Phil's observation: "I could tell he was uncomfortable since he paced around a bit". He does not say that his friend instantly whipped off his top. No, battle had been joined, if not for long, and 'take off the shirt' had to see off a rival conviction. Yet if not for Phil's example, his buddy might have spent years wracked with internal dissension; his preference swinging now this way, then the next. Instead, as Phil reports, a new convert was born, confident and sure, so much so that he soon shows up for a run shirtless, and specifically thanks Phil "for showing him a better way to run".

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Are women taking to shirtlessness in a big way?

I'd never thought I'd say this, but could the ladies be challenging for the lead in our struggle to normalise shirtless running?

Today I googled 'running shirtless' on Blog Search and was quickly reading well-written piece after well-written piece concerning running sans extraneous upper-body attire. Each one by a woman:

- There were 'trying it for the first time' confessionals
- There were 'why you should try this too, girl' proselytisations
- There were even how-to guides on the right attire for shirtless running, complete with clinical discussion on what sort of jogbra to wear and which colour to avoid.

I scanned the Comment sections and almost invariably there was only supportiveness, envy ('I wish I could do it!') and approval being channeled.

Now that I think about it, my own observation at the gym I sometimes use is that more women are adopting the jogbra, while we men stay shirted (of course, gym rules make this mandatory - but that's a gripe for another time).

I'm not complaining, for all sorts of reasons - including the most obvious one. But why is this trend gathering apparent momentum?

One answer puts it down to confidence. As women make strides in arena after arena - now justly sure of their equality - it could only have been a matter of time before this confidence strips away the constraints that inhibit body comfort. Confronted by examples of men who cast aside their shirts to exercise, why should women not partake of the same sense of freedom?

As for why conversions, as we deem it on this blog, should be breaking out all over in the summer of 2012, we might make reference to such things as 'critical mass' (online as well as on the ground) and 'tipping point being reached'. I'm no sociologist, but with every extra jogbraed body out there pounding the pavement, we have an additional role model playing her role. Another sister, or daughter, or mother would have discovered the joys of shirtlessness - and pointing the way to more.


Yet perhaps I should conclude by addressing my fellow men, especially those who feel yet resist that so-natural tug towards tugging off the shirt: The ladies have seen the light, fellows. If once we feared to offend their sensibilities by 'exposing too much', do you need further evidence that there is no erosion of modesty here?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why I am not a nude runner

It will be very clear from this blog that I am a confirmed proponent of running sans shirt, or in jogbra in the case of women. Many comments have come in either in support of this position (along with some pretty critical ones) - but every once in a while someone will suggest taking the next step: Why not run nude?

Now of course, in many parts of the world, there is a simple answer to the question: If you tried to in pretty much any precinct, you would soon be in the clink. But in some 'enlightened' places, and certainly in specific colonies, you could indeed choose to shed every last thread.

I have never ventured to do so and do not intend to. This is not because I have any lack of respect for those of the nudist persuasion. Indeed, perhaps some of us who have converted to shirtlessness are indeed travellers on a journey that - in the fulness of time - will lead to the embracing of nakedness as the ideal. But that path is not one I see my myself treading.

First of all, I do not see shirtless running as essentially some sort of 'half-way point'. The freedom that I feel when I go bare-chested on my runs will not, I don't think, be materially enhanced by the mere  discarding of yet more articles of clothing. I feel spiritually recharged when trotting along and have to my mind reached a prefect balance between comfort and modesty. To be in quest of yet 'more of a good thing' by looking to go yet barer seems pointless. Indeed, it seems to me that the realities of human biology mean that being totally 'freed of constraint' when running might be distinctly uncomfortable for many of us, as it becomes a case of being 'free of support'.

Secondly, I am precisely a proponent of shirtless running because to my mind it is something that anyone can embrace in almost all communities, and at any age - hence that 'caramaderie' that I have written of that unites all shirtless and jogbraed runners. Even in more conservative quarters, shirtlessness is seldom considered so outrageous a phenomenon as to provoke outright hostility (at most, it typically evokes a tut-tutting of disapproval); were more individuals to embrace a shirtless identity, we can imagine attitudes being further modified, though there would be no radical shift.  Such a degree of acceptance - actual or at least potential - would be very dramatically shattered if we were to now espouse nudism: A decided majority would part company from the minority.

Thirdly, the 'sensuous buzz' that many cite as a benefit of running shirtless - others have described it as 'feeling sexy' or sensual - is, to my mind, bound up with the fact that we are choosing to both simultaneously expose part of our anatomy and yet cover up another part. . We project the confidence of being willing to 'go this far', and the confidence to say 'this is just enough'. Art, someone once said, is all about knowing when to stop. I'm right where I want to be.