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...
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!