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.
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!