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...
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!