There are a number of celebrities who are known for enjoying a shirtless run, both male and female. I'll skip the Hollywood name-dropping, since a Google search will reveal who they are. And I'm also in two minds regarding them, despite my own support of their cause.
On the one hand, they could be doing a lot of good, in that many people who read about their exploits may feel more inclined to give a shirtless trot a try. On the other hand, these stars are almost inevitably toned to a ridiculous pitch with the aid of personal trainers, hours in high-tech gyms and so on. They give a false image of what a shirtless runner ought to look like - and could even act as a disincentive, since most folks' bodies and body shapes are rather less ideal.
Personally, as far as role-modelling goes, it was the example of persons far closer to my own day-to-day life that helped me overcome my own inhibitions. Two sets of persons come to mind.
With the first, I knew a cousin who always removed his shirt before playing racquet sports, and another who always did so when jogging. Both signalled that my own incipient sense of being uncomfortable when exercising fully clothed was not a bizarre anomaly but something that could be acted on. They were completely comfortable being seen shirtless, without ever seeming to be exhibitionistic or - as is always a suspicion with celebrities - preening for the camera. I knew them both to be 'normal' people with 'normal' physiques, so emulating them was not an insane notion.
As for the second set of people, there was a Rangers troop at school that required its members to strip to the waist for certain activities, including group exercise, foot drills and some games. I never did join up, but I came to notice that some of my pals who did so became, after a time, much more comfortable about being barechested - and indeed began opting to shed their shirts for gym class or PT. Again, they hadn't become show-offs anxious to display bulked-up muscles and draw girls' attentions. They had simply shrugged off their inhibitions, and were the happier for it.
This blog, then, will ignore the Olympians, professional sportsmen and superstars (even a certain President), however inspiring their shirtless exploits might be to some. It will showcase the thoughts, example and struggles of ordinary folks - even as I am myself as ordinary as any Joe could be - and hopefully show these to be more than enough reason to embark on shirtless runs.
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!