Fair warning: This post may stretch your boundaries. Well, just a little bit.
So you're someone who's 'sort of' converted to shirtless running and has become comfortable doing part of your runs sans shirt. Perhaps, as is most often reported, you usually remove the garment when perspiration starts to flow.
For my money, though, getting the most out of shirtless runnng means going a step further and losing the safety shirt. In other words, you shouldn't have to plod along with a singlet still tucked in your waistband or clutched in your hand. You should be starting off - from home, or your vehicle, or what have you - in just bare chest or jogbra, thereby 'converting fully'. Here are five reasons why you should:
(1) First, and most prosaically, having to hold on to a tank top or having it dangle off your shorts is a bit of a pain. It can throw you off your stride, distract from enjoyment and make you look ever so slightly awkward.
(2) That safety shirt draws attention to yourself. Someone who is full-bore shirtless is telegraphing a certain devil-may-care confidence about one's appearance, a naturalness that can be attractive in its own way but doesn't go out of its way to make a forced statement. But someone gripping a crumpled-up shirt while topless or jogbraed is another matter altogether.There are mixed signals here, a jangling discordance that pulls one up short. Is this person acknowledging that he or she needs to hang on to a shirt because there is something rather improper about 'going without' - so that, at need, he can cover himself post haste? If so, why is he shirtless at all?
(3) There is a satisfying sense of casting-off of a prop or crutch about heading out from the get-go without a shirt. You might have to wrestle with a taking-on of social risk - 'will I spot an old friend heading my way, who would never have imagined encountering me in the new guise as a shirtless runner?' - but if you can withstand the stabs of self-doubt, the sense of total freedom and not being tethered to some 'essentially shirted identity' can bring relief and giddy liberty. As the safety shirt is left further and further behind with every footfall, the internal naysaying should subside.
(4) Conversely, so long as a shirt remains within grasp, you are likely never going to shake off regular urges to put it on - especially at the end of your run as you are heading back to your home base. In the first place, that's going to detract from your run proper. Further, if you succumb to that end-of-run temptation to cover up again, that would deprive one of the great joys of shirtless running: Completing a run shirtless and feeling a sheen of honest perspiration on one's torso, without a clinging upper-body garment to literally dampen the sensation.
(5) Ultimately, as has been hinted at in (2), by converting fully you are validating the basic claim that being a shirtless runner - one who runs without a shirt - is merely embracing a healthsome activity and responsibly maximising comfort. If you really accept that, why need there be these odd shifts of gear, of having to endure part of your route shirt-encased? You might even say that abandoning the safety shirt is simply to be true and honest to yourself. Call it a test. If you cannot pass it, then perhaps there are hang-ups still to be overcome.
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!