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, April 4, 2011

Feeling uncomfortable while running shirtless

Many people who would otherwise be stripping down to bare chest or jogbra are held back by a sense that they are somehow offending against decency, propriety or modesty. And 'sense' is the word: It's not something they could articulate fully, but rather an inchoate discomfort that disrupts what should otherwise be blissful liberation.

This extract from a blog post (which enumerates challenges 'most long-distance runners face') illustrates the problem.We should note that writer Amy stayed the course!:

 As I mentioned before, Dallas has started to warm up. Around the 13 mile mark, I took my shirt off. I’ve never done that before! I know it’s not a big deal, (I’m obviously wearing a sports bra), but I still felt uncomfortable. The trail was mostly empty but every now and then someone would run, walk, or bike by. Every time they did I felt like throwing my shirt back on! You’d think I was running around naked.
I tried to remind myself that I am hot (literally, sweating, red face…really hot). There was only 1 water fountain on the trail (and I didn’t bring any), so I was also feeling very dehydrated.  Although I didn’t want to offend anyone with my shirtless running, I also didn’t want to pass out from heat exhaustion. So, shirtless it was!

I would say many of us who are now confirmed shirtless runners have had to bust through this transitional stage. Some of the posts and comments on this blog have tackled the matter, but four of the most successful 'cures' are quickly summarised:

1) Run through it: If you resist the urge to 'cover up' but just keep going, after a while the sense of discomfort naturally recedes. Many folks report that the tipping point is just after one's perspiration begins to flow unhindered by attire, and a slight breeze combines with that to cool one's upper body that much more effectively.

2) Avoid crowds: The writer of the post was already running in a fairly deserted area, and certainly for beginners hordes of people are best avoided; the discomfort might become so acute that the shirtless run becomes unrelieved misery. No point in that!

3) Start small: Intersperse your usual fully-clothed runs with perhaps five minutes of shirtless striding. This will allow you to compare the difference in comfort level between the two phases, and gets you more used to the 'psychic shock' of stripping down. Over time, lengthen the time you keep your shirt off: Before you know it, it might be second nature.

4) Seek other converts: You might choose to run where other shirtless runners can be found. There can be strength in numbers! A note though: A possible alternative 'confidence issue' might arise if you are yourself still working off a few winter pounds: You might be slightly intimidated by the ridiculously toned torsos revealed. Just remember that you don't need to look like some sort of professional athlete to feel comfortable with shedding excess kit; on the other hand if you are seriously flabby, perhaps you now have an additional incentive to get healthier soonest.

Those needing further encouragement are urged to comb through the entries on this blog. A full range of opinion has been canvassed (including those heartily opposed to the whole notion of going bare!).You may find that your 'private insecurities' were widely shared by many who have since converted fully to running shirtless or jogbraed.


Jake said...

It was a lovely sunny evening today so I decided it would be perfect to try this shirtless running thing. I left work and went home early to change into my running gear and headed out to a fairly secluded meadow which is just off a busy trail. After a couple of circuits I only briefly removed my shirt before losing my confidence after spotting some walkers ahead.
On the third lap I told myself to take it off and keep it off. I passed a few dog walkers who either said hello or just minded their own business. It felt great to feel the wind and evening sun on my bare skin. Running bare-chested also encouraged me to keep my shoulders back as this reduced the amount of bounce.
I'm now more encouraged to extend my shirtless run or perhaps to discard my shirt entirely!

Anonymous said...

Jake that is a good start to running shirtless. Yesterday was a warm spring day making it first chance for me to run shirtless in months. After running all summer long without a shirt, I know its better way to run, but it was a bit of a struggle even for me to toss my shirt off yesterday. The parking lot was rather active so I ended up waiting until I had a clear moment to toss off my shirt. Felt great to run shirtless again and plan to do the same for my next run. Once you get into the routine, then running shirtless becomes no big deal. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Chris says:

Congratulations firstly to Thomas for setting up a great site!

Now the summer months are approaching, it's a ideal time for people who have never tried it before, to give running shirtless a go. It's far more comfortable and enjoyable. I started before finding this site and the best advice is to go shirtless from the start and run through any initial nerves.

Try it once and see what you think!

Anonymous said...

First shirtless run for me yesterday. Very nervous at first but passed a multitude of dog walkers and canal boat owners on the tow-path non of whom batted an eye-lid and all said hello. Felt great!

The more that run this way, the more acceptable this becomes. We swim shirtless, so why not run shirtless?

Anonymous said...

As I found out this past weekend, you don’t have to have a buff running body to go shirtless. I ran shirtless for most of the summer and fall last year, but the long cold winter has left me slightly out of shape. Because of this, I have been uneasy about running without a shirt again. That changed last weekend when I was leaving to go to my first race of the season with my shirt on. It was a warm and humid morning and my girl friend suggested that it was a good day for me to start going without a shirt again. As it turns out she prefers me to go shirtless even if I am not in prime shape. With that thought in mind, I left my shirt at home and went to the race shirtless and stayed that way for the rest of the day. I’ve been running shirtless ever since.

Jimbo said...

Whilst out running in the pouring rain I wondered what conditions others enjoy running shirtless in...

Chris said...

Re Jimbos question - I think the answer is whatever you are comfortable in. Rain is fine, I'm barechested in anything other than the cold!

Good to see the other comments about people starting / returning to running shirtless.

Thomas has put things far better than I ever could but running shirtless is one of my hobbies; the main reasons being the added enjoyment, comfort and sensory aspects which he has already mentioned. It builds up confidence, makes you feel more liberated and is something which I'm sure more people would enjoy if they tried.

For anyone who is feeling a bit nervous - then take it from us that this soon passes and as the person above says, you don't need to be a model to get outside and enjoy the sun - the only real constraint is not to burn, as opposed to feeling awkward for being bare chested or jogbraed in the first place.

Anonymous said...

There seems to have been an increase in shirtless running as well as other activities recently. More guys are realizing that it just feels right. As others have pointed out it is plainly much more comfortable than jogging in a sweat soaked t-shirt. Those who have trouble leaving the house shirtless should take along a safety shirt at first. The more time you spend without the shirt the more comfortable you will become. Eventually it will become so natural to be bare chested you will feel confined when you have the shirt on! Like anything else confidence grows with practice! Try it you will never go back once you get used to how great it feels!

Anonymous said...

There was a heat warning in effect at my last race so the race Director had his staff advise people to go shirtless upon registering for the race. Even with that recommendation about 30% of the 200 runners still had their shirts on at the start of the race, but nearly everyone had them off by the end of the race.

Anonymous said...

I finally had the courage to try shirtless running today. After seeing other guys on the trail with their shirts off and envying how cool they were staying, I decided that I would try it and see what it was like. And it was amazing. This is something that I am definitely going to keep on doing as I feel great.