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!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Guest post: Shirtless, and cold, in Sweden

Here, Anders in Sweden reminisces about his youthful, shirtless times. Hang on, it's an icy ride...
The picture on top of your homepage just reminds about when i was young, round 16 years.  We were some schoolfriends who went running every Sunday, as much for the fellowship as the training. We persuaded more of our friends to join us and soon we were about 10 tough guys running together.
When we were out, we looked much as the runners on that picture. We thought that only cowards ran in jogging suit or shirt. We found in 'tougher' to run in shorts only. We did so the first autumn only until the temperature dropped to zero Centigrade, but next year we stayed bare for the entire winter (and winters are really cold in Scandinavia).
Not all the runners stayed with us when it dropped below zero.
We thought those bailing out were cowards and not tough enough. We got much "good advice" from "more knowledgeable" runners we met and much ironic commentary, such as: Are you training for Alaska?
It made for marvellous fellowship amongst tough guys and good training, too. I just felt a tough guy together with the others. The fellowship made it easier to run in the cold and to run faster. 
The best thing was that we became popular among the girls. We asked some girls we knew to be present at the spot where we would reach the endpoint of our run. They came, waited and cheered and clapped their hands.  It was marvellous then to chat briefly with them, before we got too cold because we were standing still.
You can call it flirting if you like. Knowing that the girls were waiting for us made the run easier.
After running, if it was cold, we would have boxing glowes in our bags. We would then stage short fights outdoors, when we still were warm. It was on a green common. If just two of us brought gloves, everyone could fight but it would be  two at the time. The boxing was also a part of that fellowship. Again, it made us feel more like a tough guy to be in such company.
After running and boxing, we would don our training suits, which we would have stowed in bags on our bicycles, then bike home.
If it was snowing we might substitute a snowball fight for the boxing. We would hurl snowballs at the bare bodies and shove our friends into the snow.
I wrote in because the picture on top of the homepage just looked the same as when we were running in those days.I'm middle-aged now but still cycle a lot.
Anders Ström,


Anonymous said...

I was never surrounded by it like that so it was always going against the grain for me, but I like being shirtless in the cold, and testing to see what I can cope with. No boxing, never learned that, but I've been doing building work (construction in US-speak, I'm in the UK..), inside unheated draughty buildings and outside too, and I haven't work a shirt once while doing any of it. There is something really good about working shirtless, with my muscles hard and dirty in the cold, in public, that is even more fun than running. I love how it feels, and I love some of the attention I get. Two hot women touching my bare chest in the street and giving me a hard-on by propositioning two-girl sex, no less! Actually I'm not that daring and I think they wanted money which I didn't have anyway at the time, so I politely (and reluctantly) declined, but they acted like they wanted it then and there, it was a moment I'll never forget. :)

Anonymous said...

I wanted to post this on another blog in answer to a post on it here:

I have none of the accepted login methods so I'm taking the liberty of posting it here, as I guess the subject applies, and you might have a use for this anyway... (Thanks for allowing anon posts, I hate having to sign up for stuff and remember passwords, it ruins spontaneous responses too).

The post is big, but here it is:


I considered it. I'm not sure it's worth doing. While there's plenty we can use to support the article, the burden of proof is hardly democratic. While Wikipedia appears to allow democratic input, and is fairly good for a technical go-to on many things, it fails in many ways. One is that expertise is actually poor, despite appearing to be high. If you look at serious tech subjects you might see reams of maths, while any real expert knows that if you can't understand the subject enough to convey the essentials without that, you don't understand it well enough. This was good enough for Einstein, yet evidently NOT good enough for Wikipedia. :) It doesn't matter how many first hand experinces get stated, it only takes ONE 'citation needed' to bollocks up the whole show. You state that the World is Round and some idiot will go 'citation needed'. You can state that humans are warm blooded, capable of generating the required heat to run shirtless in cold weather and enjoy it if we have the energy to fuel it, and the same will occur if you can't point to an expert so unassailable that all the contradictory contributors can't touch it.

On the subject of going shirtless, you can point to health benefits, the way that its use in sports in schools used to be more widespread than now, and even in those who did not enjoy it because they felt uneasy about their bodies, they did at least learn that they could make heat by their actions instead of fearing the cold. As I remember it, it was never obvious who would feel ok, or uneasy about it either, there were surprises. But how can any of this be other than anecdotal? As such, it has no place on Wikipedia because Wikipedia won't allow that. Aiming for publication on Wikipedia as a way to gain authority fails, because in the end it is like asking for approval froma teacher instead og going out and learning persistently for our own purposes!


To be continued, it's bigger than one comment allows. :)

Anonymous said...

Part 2 of 2...

There may be some angles of attack if you really want to defend the Wikipedia article, like the benefits for health and endurance of running shirtless in cold weather. It's hard to do because there are conflicting findings in various studies. Some say that it increases the demands for circulation, so the cardiovascular system benefits more with extremes of heat and cold than when we are more comfortable. Just adapting to the difference and coping with it obviously challenges us and helps us to be more aware of motion, out senses, etc, but try stating that on Wikipedia without some moron going 'citation needed' because they can't accept any evidence that isn't already footnoted and approved on Wikipedia! One study apparently found that cold can increase incidence of symptoms of the common cold, but how can you tackle THAT on Wikipedia?! You'd first have to prove that the study was poor science, and that the chills and mucus resulted from viral infection with fever or poor thermal regulation by the hippocampus, or were merely due to extreme cooling and irritation of the upper airways while breathing cold air. This is far too great a burden of proof, and those who will adequately refute it will have better reasons for doing it than posting on Wikipedia anyway. And as most findings of that kind are in journals closed to laiety, or at least limited by paid access, this is NOT something that can be used as a citation on Wikipedia even if it DOES exist because the proof is not freely available.

In short, trying to validate the subject on Wikipedia is a long arduous task that in the end likely create rope for others to hang you with. Best to stay with blogs, and anywhere else where you can state your experience and be challenged or aided by others directly, without any pretence or veneer or scholasticism. So long as we make honest statements, it's all we need. They don't have to be complete, they don't have to draw on anyone's experience but our own, all we have to do is say as much as we're willing to, and not to lie. If enough people find these records, and add to them, the record will persist, because no-one can ask every webmaster holding them to destroy them. That's the real power of the internet. Wikipedia isn't very powerful, it's just convenient. I've used Wikipedia often, and I respect it for being there, being convenient, but I do not trust it for reliable data, I ALWAYS look much deeper, for far longer, when I really need detailed information. I'd consider myself lazy if I didn't. Besides, on Wikipedia you might find a tech article that screams complex erudition, then find some amatuer enthusiast who graps the subject so well that a few simple paragraphs on their own site states a subject so clearly, practically and concisely that you'll wonder what the highly technical article on Wikipedia was meant to acheive. Glory for its posters? A lot of the time they don't do half as much for advancing understanding as a few first-hand accounts of practical experience found on any number of small sites that will be found with a good selection of keywords on Google.

Phil said...

I ran a 10k race last weekend with starting line temps at -1 Celsius. So far this fall, I have remained shirtless for all of my runs, but this was the coldest day that I encountered so far. I thought about giving into the cold weather and running with a shirt this time, but when it came time to head to the start, I quickly decided shed the shirt as usual. It was interesting as I worked my way through the crowd of runners as they guided me along to the front of the pack. Oddly enough, there was another shirtless runner at the starting line and we exchange the customary acknowledgment. Must say it was rather cold waiting for the race to start, however once the race started I warmed up quickly. I ended up setting a new race PR of 42:52 and the other guy finished 2nd overall. Needless to say, my shirt will remain off for all my runs.

Anonymous said...

Good for you, Phil. See how far you can go, but take care if you ever do it alone. I'm not so sure how much I can stand the cold as I get older but I keep at it. I run alone from long habit, and just did a 5.25 mile shirtless run in -3°C and 6 mph wind, same route I usually do. I walk for 50 minutes to get to where I start, wearing a sleeveless half-open jacket with no shirt under it, so I have to walk hard and fast to warm up and get used to it, and there's plenty of hills too, which helps. I guess I don't want to have to keep explaining it to people out there so I find what you did to be daring, to get the shirt off with a lot of people around who might make it awkward, and as I run in the same stuff I walk up there in, minus jacket, so shirtless, that means wearing jeans, which might make me feel just as self-conscious in a public run with others, as wearing shorts would because I lost the habit of doing that tens of years ago.

My own most daring one in recent memory was last March, 7th, before dawn. It was -6°C with a 10 mph wind, and I got so psyched up for it that after half a mile I got my jacket off on the bit of green space in Clifton shortly before crossing the Clifton Suspension Bridge. I sometimes open it fully in similar conditions but that morning I felt so daring that I got it off and walked shirtless in the streets, with a few people around (almost all passing in cars), before running round Ashton Court (Bristol) and continuing home shirtless for a total of 8 miles running. The run took 70 minutes. I doubt that's a very fast run, but cross country, mostly in the dark with a small flashlight, not too bad probably. I don't know which felt best, the run or the 20 minutes of striding along shirtless in the streets beforehand in conditions which seem to scare most people into staying indoors. It feels amazing, knowing I can dare to do that, and cope with doing it too. I suspect this year might provide a chance to beat it.

The worst thing is the cold stiffness in my hands. I'm going to have to get used to the weirdness of wearing gloves but no shirt in public in subzero temperatures. Until now I just try to keep my fingers warm by clenching my fists, but that too isn't always the best signal to give to people in general. I think with decent gloves my tolerance will be a lot greater. Maybe a hat, but I'm definitely not used to those, and it sort of defeats the point. :)


Anonymous said...

Another one today.. it was -4, with 7 mph wind, plus whatever my own speed was, likely 9 to 11 mph as it was a long gentle downhill on high ground. One unusual moment: about 60 kids cheering me on as I ran by shirtless, they were about to start a cross country run, on one of the bleakest bits of track I know of. Normally there's never anyone there in that kind of weather, except rare dog walker, so I guess a lot of people seem to be renewing the idea of making the most of it instead of hiding away from it.

Does anyone have any good ideas for foods that help with heat generation? I don't mean fuel alone, that's easy to figure out. I mean stuff that triggers the hypothalamus into raising body temperature, or has other ways to adjust thermal regulation. The most reliable ones I know are milk, cod liver oil capsules, and raw bay leaves (don't over do this one, one big leaf is plenty, nibbled and chewed slowly). I think creatine ethyl ester would help but I decided I didn't want to rely on that after spending a year or so trying it. Habit and effort help, as does any heavy use of muscles because regenerating them generates heat, but there are times when soem simple ingestion of some boosting food helps a lot. I don't want to rely on drugs because I think concentrations of substances with limited purposes tend to have side effects best avoided, along with any benefits they have.


Toughpaul said...

I like the comment from Anders in Sweeden about running in the cold as a 16yo lad. Me & my buddies used to run in just shorts & shirtless @ school in our teens. Like Anders we would have snowball fights, wrestle in the snow or dare each other to stay lying in the snow as long as possible.

I also like the comment from Crow about walking through Bristol in minus 6C. In the last few weeks its been very cold here in the UK & several times I headed into the nearby hills wearing only shorts & trainers for a hike - rather than a run. When hiking long distances its necessary for safety reasons to have emergency warm clothes available, so I carry a very small backpack with me, but I love to hike shirtless even in the cold. I can cope with minus 10C for up to an hour.

I love the cold (I always have), running or walking through the freezing air, feeling the bite on my torso, nipples, thighs & knees. I guess I got used to it @ a young age 'cus I was brought up to take daily cold baths & swim through the winter outdoors - even breaking the ice if necessary.

I'm 26 now & I still love cold on the surface of my skin. As long as your body's core temperature remains stable, and you avoid frostbite, skin surface coldness won't do U any harm.