We want your views on running shirtless!

July 2014: It has been a year since I have found time to post in this blog. I've released a little flurry by way of compensation. Thank you for the expressions of solidarity that have come my way in the interim.

If you trawl the runners' forums, you will find that the stalwart opponents of 'running shirtless' have not ceded the field! Almost all of them direct their fire at barechested runners (ie the men!); by unspoken agreement no one assails the growing force of jogbraed runners. Why do you suppose that is the case?

To me, the jogbraed and the bare-chested are alike comrades in the battle to reclaim acceptance for attire-light exercise. I continue to welcome guest posts (sent to barethomas@gmail.com) on any related topic, including from those who would discourage stripping to the waist. Let all voices be heard on this site!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why I am not a nude runner

It will be very clear from this blog that I am a confirmed proponent of running sans shirt, or in jogbra in the case of women. Many comments have come in either in support of this position (along with some pretty critical ones) - but every once in a while someone will suggest taking the next step: Why not run nude?

Now of course, in many parts of the world, there is a simple answer to the question: If you tried to in pretty much any precinct, you would soon be in the clink. But in some 'enlightened' places, and certainly in specific colonies, you could indeed choose to shed every last thread.

I have never ventured to do so and do not intend to. This is not because I have any lack of respect for those of the nudist persuasion. Indeed, perhaps some of us who have converted to shirtlessness are indeed travellers on a journey that - in the fulness of time - will lead to the embracing of nakedness as the ideal. But that path is not one I see my myself treading.

First of all, I do not see shirtless running as essentially some sort of 'half-way point'. The freedom that I feel when I go bare-chested on my runs will not, I don't think, be materially enhanced by the mere  discarding of yet more articles of clothing. I feel spiritually recharged when trotting along and have to my mind reached a prefect balance between comfort and modesty. To be in quest of yet 'more of a good thing' by looking to go yet barer seems pointless. Indeed, it seems to me that the realities of human biology mean that being totally 'freed of constraint' when running might be distinctly uncomfortable for many of us, as it becomes a case of being 'free of support'.

Secondly, I am precisely a proponent of shirtless running because to my mind it is something that anyone can embrace in almost all communities, and at any age - hence that 'caramaderie' that I have written of that unites all shirtless and jogbraed runners. Even in more conservative quarters, shirtlessness is seldom considered so outrageous a phenomenon as to provoke outright hostility (at most, it typically evokes a tut-tutting of disapproval); were more individuals to embrace a shirtless identity, we can imagine attitudes being further modified, though there would be no radical shift.  Such a degree of acceptance - actual or at least potential - would be very dramatically shattered if we were to now espouse nudism: A decided majority would part company from the minority.

Thirdly, the 'sensuous buzz' that many cite as a benefit of running shirtless - others have described it as 'feeling sexy' or sensual - is, to my mind, bound up with the fact that we are choosing to both simultaneously expose part of our anatomy and yet cover up another part. . We project the confidence of being willing to 'go this far', and the confidence to say 'this is just enough'. Art, someone once said, is all about knowing when to stop. I'm right where I want to be.


Marc Taylor said...

I prefer just to run shirtless but if someone wanted to run completely nude it's fine with me. Perhaps related to this that ought to be touched upon (no pun intended) is shirtless running by women.

Anonymous said...

Well. you may get arrested for running nude (public indecency)... But running shirtless is allowed. I was stretching after my run on park land property so I could be near the trees to stretch off. Then some kids walk by (10-12) and says "Please put a shirt on", I pause and say "I'm fine" and turn away. Then they say "It's a public place, there's chldren, they could be traumatized" and I just mutter (don't know if they heard) "You see it anywhere, anyway"...

What would you say to that? They are kids, girls who are that age, and we all know girls at that age can be self-centered and rude (especially to their friends, and other girls their age). So I couldn't really take what they said seriously... was it even worth responding to?

Anonymous said...

Marc, I have run in a sports bra for years now and can't see what point your trying to make here...

Tremendi said...

Running without a shirt is a normal, everyday activity for me (as many readers here may know). Shirtless running for me is all about keeping cool and not having sweaty shirts sticking to my body. I put a shirt on in winter to get warm after my run and stay shirtless in the summer if I can.

I have also run nude at times. You need to choose the location and time to do that. I mostly run nude when at an appropriate location (such as at a nude beach, in a remote location where there are very few people around) or at a time of day or night when you are unlikely to be seen and complained about - such as just before dawn or after dusk when the normal folk dont go out. (i.e. avoid being arrested).

The nice thing about naked running is that it really is about total freedom and running as nature intended. No encumbrances whatsoever. It is not about being lewd or overtly sexual, it is just a great feeling. If you haven't done it then maybe one day, at the right time and place, you should try it - even if it is just for a very short distance.

Another great thing about running naked on the beach is that you can finish off your hot run with a great cool-down skinny dip!

Anonymous said...

Use to be that even when it wasn't hot I'd have my shirt off the last quarter mile of a run just to cool off. As it got warmer it seemed that the shirtless distance got longer and longer until it just made more sense to leave the shirt at home. There also is a great feeling of freedom running sans shirt.

Anonymous said...

I like that last paragraph of the main post in this thread, it says it exactly right. Sometimes it turns me on to run shirtless, especially the feeling of daring and freedom when going shirtless in cold weather, and the feeling of being less vulnerable that comes with that, but I also like to feel safe with it, to not have to be aware of any sexual tension at all. As to when women run in sports bras or whatever they're called, I love that, it's hot, and I often want to say so, but reading signs of when it may or may not be appropriate to show approval is harder than just dealing with my own uncertainty at times, not sure always whether I want to allow myself to get turned on, or to deny that and just feel safe in NOT doing so. Fortunately a bit of reserved but unashamed eye contact can at times say more than words. A returned smile answers back more convincingly than any words too. But as this is usually a passing moment, especially in the case of runners meeting in opposite directions on some rocky path, it's a very tentative business at best. So much is the weirdness of conditioning in society now, that I sometimes find it unsettling seeing another guy going shirtless, maybe because I feel acutely what others may feel if they see me! The whole thing is rediculous, but it isn't going to stop me doing it. Figuring out how to avoid the impasses of non-communication could help resolve it, but I don't know if lone runners really want to be alone, or often run alone because they don't know how to do otherwise. I don't mean those who are comfortable with races, I think they're pretty social animals really, but not all of us are, and I find it very difficult to figure out. As to running naked, I have tried it, but it just feels weird to me. I always run shirtless, and in jeans. That last point has got slightly astounded responses, even from Thomas whose blog this is. :) But it makes sense to me, to stay with those conditions I most expect to be in. Even daring comes with habits. And I'd feel pretty stupid if I found that I couldn't run well in jeans in an emergency because I never did so out of habit. Besides, I think it looks good. A matter of personal opinion, but I don't know if any of you have noticed, but in the UK, as of the last ten years, there are some VERY strange precedents now for the wearing of shorts, only made less strange because of the amazing number of people doing it... sometimes I indulge in my slight distaste if it makes me feel better about some snotty look from someone seeing me shirtless. So long as I never have to obsess about it, and can use the thought as a way to move on, I'm ok with it. Personally I blame the postmen. :) And the nu-metal-heads. I think they have a fetish for shorts in the toughest of conditions. Is shirtless in the cold really any weirder, given what has been documented about cold acclimation (I posted about that earlier, before this post...)


Anonymous said...

It seems like everyone is missing the most obvious reason why many men don't want to run without pants: comfort. Most of my running pants have built-in underwear that keep my manly bits in place while running, but I have a few (mostly the ones I use in winter) that don't. Whenever I use one of the latter, I need to wear an independent piece of underwear. I just can't run comfortably with my masculinity flailing around. Hence, pants are, as far as I am concerned, unavoidable.

I assume that many women feel similarly wrt to jogging bras.

Anonymous said...

You could try running the classical Greek way with a Kynodesme