If you've been toying with the idea of going shirtless for your runs, you may like to know that the practice has an honourable pedigree. The great running guru himself, James Fixx, said that - for male joggers - the answer to the question of what shirt to wear was: "Don't wear one". I don't see why the point should not be extended to cover women in jogbras.
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.
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!