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.