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!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Becoming a shirtless runner (III): A basic level of fitness required?

Below, upgraded from the Comments logs, are two sparkling first-person accounts of how two runners first went bare-chested. They are great and inspiring reads. What is interesting is that Nick's is actually a reminisce from many years ago, while Paul is fresh from the front. Yet in comparing the two reports, the similarities clearly outweigh the differences: Running sans shirt is an experience all can share.

One point of note is that, in both 'conversion' accounts, allusion is made to having attained a certain basic level of fitness ("got fitter, a little bit more toned" vs "running for a year, confident about doing a 10k"). There is no doubt that someone who is extensively overweight would feel considerably more nervous about doffing his upper-body attire; he would also be much more likely to attract opprobium. But is this fair?

Well, when we go out in public, we do not expect to have to dress in our finest. At the same time, too, if you insist in going about in filthy rags, I do not think you should be fully surprised - or nurse deep resentment - if you get more negative attention than you might like. One might feel that 'it is none of anyone else's business'; at the same time, we are all members of the community and while the days of shunning are thankfully behind us, I cannot in all honesty agree that 'it never matters how presentable you are'.

Transposing these thoughts, then, to the question of barechested or jogbraed running, it is no wonder that a bit of 'making sure one is presentable' pays dividends in terms of greater peace of mind. Which translates, then, to a more fully transformational first-time-shirtless run! Perhaps more importantly, you would be also reaping rewards in terms of health and fitness - regardless of whether you stay shirted or not.


Paul's story:

So I went for my first shirtless run today! In the past 16 months I've lost 39 pounds (not far off three stone) got fitter, a little bit more toned and completed a 500 mile bike ride through France. I've also signed up for one of those 'Tough Mudder' obstacle challenges in October, so I thought a bare chested run was achievable! I'm short and fair skinned, age 33 and certainly not 'ripped' but nonetheless I did feel that 'sensuous buzz' and yes, I admit, did feel a bit more 'sexy' than your average run. I'd just been to my local gym and two guys were working out shirtless there. Now, they WERE very ripped with amazing bodies but it did give me some confidence. It was just round my local park, the weather was dull, cloudy but warm (I do live in the UK after all!) And no one batted an eyelid. It felt great, very practical, comfortable, sexy and cool (not that I generally see myself as any of those things!) And I'll definitely be doing it again.

Nick's story:

I first ran shirtless in a race--my first race. I had been running about a year by that time, and felt excited and confident about doing a 10k. It was a warm spring day; some guys were shirtless It all seemed so natural and relaxed. The next thing I knew, I had pulled off my shirt. Nobody paid any attention--I was just one of several.

It was the most exhilarating run I had ever had up to that time. I felt ten pounds lighter; and for the first time, I had that experience others have described so well: the shock of pleasure from the rush of a cool breeze over my skin and the sudden tightening of my nipples.

After that, it was easy to go shirtless on a run. I usually started off with a "safety shirt," but then pulled it off when I was away from my neighborhood. Gradually, i got used to leaving the house without it. And I wasn't the only shirtless runner on my routes.

If you are considering going shirtless on a run for the first time, I recommend a race. If you can finish a 10k you shouldn't be worried about being in decent shape.

That was a while ago. I am 75 now, and no longer run shirtless, but I have never forgotten how it felt. It added immeasurably to the joy of running.


11 comments:

Arnaud said...

A basic level of fitness is required but maybe, everyone with one's own level. For me, it's like a fight against yourself : there is a kind of requirement to be presentable and you are stimulated in your run. Many shirtless runners describe the feeling to be faster and to strengthen their stamina and I completely agree with that. In fact, running shirtless makes you do better, or give the best of yourself, and more, in a comfortable way. Being shirtless increases my motivation and I like that.
Maybe, running shirtless is a kind of state of mind, no ?
Lastly, it's just what I think...

Anonymous said...

Everyone's physique is different and that needs to be accepted. There's nothing wrong with being normal. I've found going out for a run stripped to the waist is about freedom and not having to bother about trying to peel off sweaty vest especially this summer!! Doesn't bother me what others think but I'm sure it's made me more resilient to common illnesses especially in winter is a definate plus!

Lana said...

So interesting to hear these first hand accounts of bare chested running, and such an insight for me since I have always questioned why people choose to do so! I would be intrigued to hear what women say about running in just a sports bra, though. Do they achieve the same sense of euphoria? Also, are men as self-conscious as women about baring their core? Because that thought alone is really very frightening. With that said, I loved your comment on my blog and because you were so convincing, I'd be happy to try "jogbraed" (is that a real term?!) running and let you know what I think! :)
Lana @ Monday's Nugget
http://www.mondaysnugget.com/

barethomas said...

Hi Lana, I look forward to hearing about how your first shirtless run went ('jogbraed' probably hasn't made it into any dictionary yet!). Thank you for being open to the experience. There are a couple of accounts by jogbraed runners recorded on this blog too, and their testimony tallies closely with what the men report. Do browse. Typically, there is some awkwardness or self-doubt to get past (exposing more of yourself is part of it), but the increased comfort, freedom from constriction, sensuous buzz and sense of camaraderie then begin to make themselves felt. You are very welcome to pen a guest post, on your views and how things went. Here's hoping you find the experiment worthwhile.



Anonymous said...

Have just returned from my afternoon run, about 6 miles today, shirtless of course! I live in a college town. Shirtless and jogbraed running is increasingly popular among the student population. Bands of runners can be seen at all times of day throughout the community. The recreation department encourages baring skin for evaporation. And then, there is the added vitamin D production. Those of us somewhat older, who will never have an Adonis appearance, must credit ourselves for our effort invested in maintaining fitness and health. Shirtless is a freedom that connects us with our humanity and each other. Give it a try!

Anonymous said...

As a recreational triathloner I swim, bike, run, all shirtless when possible. Of course this is the norm for swimming whenever a wetsuit is not needed. This is not the norm for biking, but is fairly common for the run.

The body image issue arises in the US for swimming when wearing the speedo-type brief. For many this is unacceptable swimwear except for the young competitive swimmer or diver in competition, and may otherwise be interpreted falsely as suggestive of the wearer's sexual orientation. For me the brief is the most practical and comfortable swimming garment. Ergo, I wear it, less is more, the sense of freedom is similar to shirtless running.

For biking ample sunscreen is necessary due to long-term back exposure. The sense of freedom is similar.

So, let's suck it up and be who we are without shame!

Anonymous said...

Nick, if you are 75 and running, good for you. Keep it up, and there is no reason you can't still enjoy shirtless. Go for it. And, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Anonymous--I will--I can vouch for the lasting joy of running--and shirtless adds that extra touch of pleasure. I wish you the same joy,

Nick

Anonymous said...

Lana, Don't worry. I've been in your position. I started running in a jog bra as a fresher at Uni in the UK, training with new found friends and attempt to make it onto the x-country team.

My intoduction came a 6.30 am on cold morning in late September when we gathered to limber up before setting off.

The other 4 girls were all in jog bra's only and suggested I remove my t-shirt as it wouldn't be long before I'd start to sweat...yes I know but girls **do sweat** I was a little apprehensive but with the others there did so. They were right and sure enough sweat we did...

That was me and 8 yrs later I have never ran in a t-shirt. Furthermore I also talked (bored?!) my hubby, and running partner, into giving running barechested a try. He'd been regularly made to go barechested throughout school for PE and got over his initial apprehension after a couple of runs.

My advice is to go for it - don't let others talk you out of it.

Jack said...

Your own perceived fitness level can hold you back from feeling secure about running shirtless, but don’t allow yourself to fall into this trap. I too was a victim of my own self-image. When I was marathon training I ran shirtless all of the time, but was also logging 40-50 mile weeks and was in peak shape. However, I took a break from the intense training over the past year which led to me putting on few pounds, plus my wife and I moved to a new aria. All of a sudden my confidence was gone and started running with a shirt again. After running with a shirt for a few days my wife asked my why was I running with a shirt? My answer it’s kind of chilly outside and waiting to get back in shape. I always ran shirtless before in all kinds of weather, so she looked at me funny and said let me help you with that and pulled off my shirt and threw it aside and said now let’s go running. I have not run with a shirt since then.

Anonymous said...

It would be great if we could all get together for a shirtless/jogbraed run.