Goodbye, 'Jogbra'...

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 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!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Giving up on shirtless running

Visitors to this blog occasionally recount how they came to be shirtless runners, but the truth of course is that the traffic isn't all one-way. Some people start off down the barechested/jogbraed route, then decide they would rather stay more covered-up. Here are five reasons most often given for 'backsliding':

1) Cancer fears: This is the top factor cited. You meet or read of someone who has had the great misfortune of contracting the dread disease, and who expresses regret at having been a sun worshipper/ shirtless runner/ etc. The psychological impact of this should not be sniffed at. It's all well and good to say that slathering on sun block or running at certain sensible hours greatly minimises any risk. It might all just seem not worth it to some.

2) Psychological trauma: Having someone yell, 'Put a shirt on!', or other more crude or derogatory comments can greatly wound one's self-esteem, especially if one is a relatively new convert to the shirtless ranks. If one is already a little insecure about one's body, a couple of nasty encounters can completely destroy any enjoyment that might be derived from going bare.

3) Consideration: This isn't quite the same as (2). One might speak to a friend who expresses great displeasure at 'having to endure these half-naked types', or read blog posts in which the author insists that our social mores strongly militate in favour of staying covered-up. One is then convinced that running shirtless shouldn't be one's personal choice, or decides that on balance it shouldn't be practised.

4) Simple self-doubt: This can easily and insiduously take hold. Perhaps over winter one puts on a few extra pounds: For some, it's just a matter of working them off with healthful exertion, but for others it ups the insecurity level enough to warrant keeping the shirt on. I've personally found that simply not running barechested for long enough can raise the psychological barrier to taking off my shirt (click here for the blog post in which I mention this)

5) Inertia: This is factor is more prevalent than you might think. You might run shirtless one year, but then through a winter of non-running, the relative benefits of stripping to the waist may fade from the mind. When the running shoes can be dusted off again, one just automatically keeps one's shirt on again, and life just goes on.

I would think there are reasons that could be adduced to counter any of the factors cited above - they are salted through the posts of the blog. But I don't think there is a real right or wrong to the matter. But feel free to write in and disagree.


Rockbound said...

These are some good points. I'd like to address Number 2 -- the derogatory comments -- because I see this as something that can undo all the positives if not considered in the right context. One can have resolved in one's mind all other factors in favor of shirtless running, but have one's confidence destroyed by a few crude comments.

I've been running shirtless for many years and have encountered my share of such comments. I have reached three principal conclusions about those who make such comments.

First, they are wrong. There is nothing obscene or indecent about the human torso. We think nothing of shirtlessness at the beach or the swimming pool, so why is it different on the street? We have every right to run shirtless.

Next, those making such comments are rude, inconsiderate, and arrogant. What gives them the right to tell us how to dress? By making derogatory comments to shirtless runners, they are demonstrating their lack of class.

Finally, nearly all who make such comments most likely have a negative view of their own bodies. Their comments thus can be seen as an indicator of their own insecurity. I have never received a derogatory comment from another runner or athlete. Such comments most often come from those who are clearly overweight or out of shape. The comments thus can be seen as the result of a sense of shame prompted by the sight of someone doing something they know they should do but don't have the discipline to pursue.

With these facts in mind, shirtless runners should simply shrug off the negative comments and keep going. Why should we care about the opinions of people who are wrong, classless, and most likely ashamed of their own bodies?

Phil said...

I am a fair-skinned shirtless runner and I am very much aware of the dangers of getting too much sun exposure. I run 5-6 days per week outside, totaling 30-45 miles. The past couple of months in my area it has been rather hot and humid, so I have quickly discover that the most comfortable way to run and stay cool is to run without a shirt. This was not easy at first since I had to put aside my own fears and insecurities about going shirtless, but now that I got past them, I don’t even consider running with a shirt anymore. One extra benefit that I noticed (other than my increased confidence) is that it helped me keep my food choices in check during my training, knowing that I will be shirtless on a regular basis has helped me to finally shed a few unwanted pounds.

I have yet to see someone who claims to be fearful of sun exposure to run in the summer heat and humidity in my area with a long sleeve shirt and hat that fully covers their head. After all, that would offer the most protection from the sun. I am a shirtless runner and people often ask me “where is my runners tan” since I don’t have one. The reasons why are because I wear sunscreen, that spray on stuff makes it easier then ever to apply without dealing with a mess or missing spots. I also wear a sun visor to help protect my face and keep the sweat from rolling into my eyes. I do the bulk of my runs in early morning or early evening during the twilight hours when the suns effects are minimal. My longer 2-3 hour runs are done on weekends in the early morning on shaded trails.

Last weekend I met up with my running buddy in the early morning for our long run. It was just after day break and the temps were already pushing 80f (26.6 C) with 90% humidity, and its better to wear a shirt? Really?? Even my running buddy who is a safety shirt runner at best, decided to go shirtless at the start of the run. As further support, of the half dozen or so runners that I saw that morning, nearly all were shirtless; of course it maybe in those conditions and that time of day only lends itself to the more serious runner. However, it serves as good support that shirtless running should be considered by all runners or at the very least on occasions when conditions call for it.

As for hecklers, I have had people yell out comments from time to time whether I am with or without a shirt. You should not let a few misguided people discourage your shirtless running. Just remember, they are jealous of you display of confidence and your fitness commitment that you have to yourself and that it what scares them. They often wish they could be more like you, but all they can do is to try to bring you back down to their level of insecurity. So keep running strong and confident knowing that you have conquered your fears and insecurities. After all, for those of us in-the-know, running shirtless is the best way to run.

barethomas said...

Thanks for your comments, folks. Rockbound and Phil do an especially effective job bringing those pesky hecklers down a peg.

Rockbound said...

And then, every so often, the comments are positive, rather than negative.

As I finished one of my runs this weekend, I came up on a guy with a bicycle. When we passed, he said, "You look fit." I thanked him and we went our separate ways.

It was nice to see that someone noticed the result of all that running! Hope some of the rest of you get similar encouragement.

Anonymous said...

When I was at school we were not allowed to wear shirts when running only short cotton shorts and plimsoles, not even pants.
When in the gym plimsoles and socks were not allowed nor was a vest or shirt or underpants - just shorts. Everyone thought nothing of it!!