Goodbye, 'Jogbra'...

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 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!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Poem from the Net: 'The Shirtless Runner'

Here's a poem culled online (click here for the original source) that's called 'The Shirtless Runner' even though, as you'll see, the runner in question chickens out and covers up. However, the question left dangling is: Can anyone come up with better verse on the topic?

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:, January 16 2009 (Friday, 15:34)
Click here for the original source

Monday, April 20, 2009

Guest post: 'What they say is how fit I look'

Shirtless runner Don Ashton wrote in with his experience:

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!

Don Ashton

[Send in your guest posts to]

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Being accepted by neighbours

For those runners who are thinking of going shirtless on a more regular basis, one thing that may hold them back is the nagging suspicion that their neighbours might think they had gone a little potty. My experience should help keep such fears at bay.

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

Just because I'm shirtless doesn't mean...

This may come across as an extended rant, but I've been storing up my frustration over some of the more common misconceptions about shirtless runners, and I'm about ready to lash out - if only in writing.

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

Voice of a distinct minority

When I set out on my regular route, I'm always hoping to encounter another shirtless (or jogbraed) runner. The reasons for this have nothing to do with ogling.

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

This blog needs your input

A summary of how this so-new-it's-still-shrink-wrapped blog is doing. I've been hugely encouraged by visits literally from around the world:

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

The man who didn't dare bare

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.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Why apologise for running shirtless?

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.