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!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

(Guest post) How running shirtless makes me a better branding guy

Doug Brown was kind enough to allow his post at Brand Intervention to be reproduced on this site. It extends the benefits of running shirtless into the branding arena.



I prefer running to every other form of summer exercise because I don’t need much in the way of gear to get going.

Shoes and shorts. A shirt to prevent mass hysteria. Sunglasses to reduce the glare, and a cap on my head. Tunes and podcasts seem to make the miles fly by, so I take my iPod along. And I keep an eye on the time with my trusty old Timex sport watch.

With these, I’m ready to go.

This week as I was cruising along through Esquimalt, fully kitted with the gear I’ve mentioned, I was struck by a thought: How much was all this gear removing me from the essence of what I was doing?

I wondered how much more authentic my experience would be if I peeled away the superfluous.

This is a principle marketing philosophy of mine, which I might summarize as reductio ad absurdum. To get to the heart of anything, you reduce elements to the point where further reduction renders the thought or the action, incomprehensible or absurd.

So yesterday I went for a very different run: one without audio distractions, visual barriers, time-keepers or unnecessary gear.

I took it one step further by going shirtless. All I had left was a pair of shoes and shorts.

Honestly, I felt naked as hell for the first few minutes. But then I relaxed and connected to the experience.

It was probably the first authentic run I have had in 20 years. I was fully present in the essence of the activity, not distancing myself from it by add-ons. To remove any one of the remaining elements would have created absurdity or injury. Or a police chase!

Reductio ad absurdum is the perfect criteria to measure against any brand definition, idea or ad, because it strips away the unnecessary and gets to the heart of the thing.

Running virtually naked is an excellent reminder of the principle.

No, you can’t see a photo.

2 comments:

GeorgeTSLC said...

Next time I'm out for a shirtless walk, perhaps w/ occasional jogging, I'll try to see myself as "fully present in the essence of the activity." I've never "distanced" myself w/ audio distractions, and my only time-keeper is the watch I wear virtually always when I'm awake.

Tim said...

Yes, striping away all of the extra stuff is a great way to connect with the joy of running. I used to spend so much time, effort and money on all of the stuff made for running, but discovered that all of that stuff just got in the way. No more, ipod and fancy gear, just shorts and running shoes without a shirt, but still wear a watch. Even as the weather has gotten colder, I have stuck with only wearing shoes and shorts. Thought I would be cold running without a shirt, but my experience has instead made me appreciate the freedom of running even more and I feel much more connected to my surroundings.