Top runners (like sportsmen in many fields) typically have no compunction about swanning about shirtless or in jogbras. But this blog isn't really for such superior athletic beings. I suspect that the kind of thoughts that afflict the minds of many ordinary joggers who can't bring themselves to follow suit could be summarised in my encounter the other day.
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.
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 email@example.com) 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!