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!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

[Guest post] A shirtless convert grows in confidence

Jamie contributes this excellent account, chronicling how quickly he went from 'that first shirtless run' to actually heading out for his run (in his car!) barechested. There are many interesting elements here worth discussing, which I will take up in a companion post. For now, here's Jamie's testimony.

A shirtless convert grows in confidence          by Jamie

I started running a few months ago and I am still working myself into better shape and building up endurance.   I know many guys run without their shirts and I have to admit, the idea appealed to me.  However, I am not the best looking guy without a shirt.  I have that same fear most guys do of “who is going to see me?”.  As the weather has gotten warmer, I have sweated through my shirts more and more, while seeing tons of guys running without a shirt, seemingly carefree.  The thought of taking my shirt off still seemed appealing, but, again, who would see me and would people make fun of me?

Well, the other night, it was 92 degrees and quite muggy when I hit the trail for a run.  I thought this may be the day I take mine off.  At first, I didn’t see any guys without shirts and figured I was the only crazy guy out here running in such weather.  Finally, about halfway through my run, I was passed by not one, but two guys with no shirts on.  I said, “OK, this is it”.  I pulled my shirt over my head and off it came.  The breeze (what there was of it) was blowing across my sweat covered skin.  How awesome is this I thought.  Felt a little self-conscious as I passed my first person and moved my shirt to cover my stomach and chest as people approached, but did not even think about putting the shirt back on.   I started to run into more bare-chested guys, including one pack of six.  This made me feel a bit better.  I made it back to my car and walked around the parking lot shirtless for a few minutes as I cooled off.  

So, this morning was my next run on the trail.  The other night, I had made the decision to run shirtless from the beginning my next time out.  No safety shirt to deal with this time.  The temperature was a warm 72. Like ripping a bandage off, I made the decision to not only run shirtless, but to drive over there shirtless, too.  I could not put a shirt on even if I wanted to.  Before leaving, I had major butterflies about it.  Stomach was turning, but it was exciting, too.  Finally, I made a mad dash from my front door to the car – hoping no neighbor saw me.  Got in the car and sped away! I couldn’t believe I was actually doing this!  I get to the parking lot and feel slightly self-conscious as I get out of the car topless.  I feel better when I see a young guy get out of his car shirtless with his jogbraed girlfriend.  I won’t be alone!  So, I start my first full shirtless run and the self-conscious feeling is wearing off. I am passing people and not really caring if they see me shirtless.  This is awesome! Running shirtless is feeling great and I am getting more confident every step of the way.  I make it back to the car in a record time for me.  Even better!  I towel off the sweat and cool off and then back in the car shirtless for the drive home.  

As of now, I am still a bit leery of running shirtless in my neighborhood.  I think the more comfortable I get running without a shirt on the trail, I will be more ready to bare it all in front of my neighbors.  Hopefully soon, I will be converted completely.  I think I have made a great first step.  Hope to keep up the momentum!


Eric said...

Congratulations Jamie! Certainly I and many of us have shared your experience. After a while, one doesn't even consider a shirt. It's a most liberating experience.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I, too, have had a similar experience the past two weeks, or so, running most of my runs shirtless and, most, without a "safety" shirt. What has been really great is that every time I've gone out I have encountered other people (runners, hikers, bicyclists, and a horseback rider) on the trail and not one of them has seemed to care about my being shirtless. This has been very confidence building. I'm running shirtless in more public places, including in my neighborhood, and I'm looking forward to the day, hopefully soon, when I don't even consider a shirt and can do group runs or even races without feeling like I have to have a shirt on or worrying I'll run into someone I know.

Ben said...

Jamie, thank you for such an honest and inspiring post. I read it the other night and found so much I could identify with – the fear of what others may think when they see you shirtless, the tendency to start your run with a safety shirt and never actually take it off, etc, etc. Before today I was one of those guys who wore a shirt and, if it got too sweaty, I might take it off for the last 5-10 minutes, tucking it into the waistband of my shorts just in case I suddenly felt a surge of panic and wanted the option of covering up in a hurry.
Today it was really hot where I live (close to London) and I felt it was the perfect opportunity to go for it and run bare-chested. Like you, I often drive a short way to my preferred running area, which is what I did this time. I wore my shirt to drive but it helped that along the way I saw one or two shirtless guys in the park and that gave me more confidence that I wouldn’t look out of place.
Once I’d parked, then came the key moment. At first I chickened out and started to warm up as I was, but deep down I knew I had to lose my shirt as soon as possible. Taking my top off and leaving it in the car wasn’t the hardest part, it was starting to jog away in the knowledge that I was putting distance between myself and my safety net. Before long I could see a woman approaching from the other direction, walking her dog, and of course I started to wonder if she might react to my appearance. I’m not in bad shape but I wouldn’t claim to have a ‘beach torso’, also my chest is quite hairy and for some reason there are those who seem to find shirtless hairy guys more offensive than our smooth-skinned brethren!
I told myself ‘why should she react? You’re just a guy out running. Remember those people in the park, why shouldn’t you bare your chest on a hot day?’. I needn’t have worried because she didn’t give me or my body a second glance and I felt more confident again. Soon I just began to enjoy the run. When a breeze sprang up it was a fantastic sensation to feel it on my skin and I found the movement of my arms was easier then when I run with a shirt as well. The great thing was that I found myself thinking about my running rather than my running uniform and I guess that’s how it should be.
All in all, a great experience and one I aim to repeat, at least while the hot weather continues. That isn’t to say I wouldn’t like to try it in cooler temperatures too, but one step at a time!

sprtsluvrr said...

Awesome Ben. Glad you went shirtless. I have gone shirtless without incident at the trail every time since that fist time. I, too, have a hairy chest, but don't let that stop me. I still have not tried it in my neighborhood and it is getting colder now. My goal for 2015 will be to run shirtless no matter where and when I go.


Ken said...

As a kid I always hated the summer time since it meant hot days by the pool and beach. I was born with a slightly sunken chest that is not very noticeable, but was something I always wanted to hide. I always used to get angry at my parents when they would require me to go shirtless whenever we went to the pool or beach. Every year we would go to the beach for at least a week and I had to go shirtless the entire time. When I was 14 I spent an entire month down at the beach without wearing a shirt even once. This was the first time that I really started to enjoy being shirtless. However, once I got home the anxiety of being seen shirtless started to take over again. My dad pickup on this and I was actually glad when my dad told me to stay shirtless the rest of the summer. After that summer things changed and I went back to hiding behind a shirt.

Since then (15 years later), I finally started running shirtless last year during the summer. I started out running at trails away from my house. I would always leave my house shirtless without being seen so I had no choice once I got there. After a few months of running the trails shirtless the colder weather started to set in. I did not want to give up my new shirtless freedom again, so I decided to run shirtless through the winter until it was too cold. Well, that time never came and I ran shirtless the entire winter. This past summer was like I was 14 again, other than I had to go work of course with a shirt on. My advice would be to try and stay shirtless as far into the winter as you can go, you may surprise yourself.

Ray said...

Congratulations on your courage to run shirtless. I generally stay shirtless from the moment I get hime in the afternoon until time to go back to work the next day.
I don't care who sees me.

John D said...

Ken, I know it's been a while since you posted this, but I find your shirtless winter running experience inspiring. I've just started jogging without bringing a short with me and I'm moving near one of the biggest parks in my city. I will need to try jogging as much as i can this winter without a short. Since it for to -10°F here in February, I doubt I'll be able to do it 100%, but as much as possible I can do.

Anonymous said...

I'm a heavy sweater, even the best wicking shirts become a second skin, and chafing..... oh boy. Finally on a recent trail run I kind of thought "what the hell" and there I was, shirtless and still running. The first day I think I may have made a quarter mile, then my goal was a full mile, now two. I love the feeling but I'm not a complete convert yet, if I hear someone approaching on the trail I throw it back on. Last time it was a boys cross country team, and half of them were shirtless. I'll try again, I feel like I'll have crossed a huge hurdle the first time I pass someone while I'm shirtless.