John D has just undergone that rite dubbed "full conversion" - heading out for a run barechested (or in sportsbra), without a safety shirt. This is his lively account, originally an email.
I've come a pretty long way from when I was a kid and had a very strange aversion to being shirtless around anyone, anywhere. Even when my fifth grade class went to the Y for a week of swimming, I insisted I keep my T-shirt on (this was completely my idea, by the way. I was a stubborn kid). But over the years, I've gotten used to the freedom of being shirtless in various appropriate contexts, whether it is ninety minutes of hot yoga, hanging out at a gay pride festival or playing a shirts and skins pickup soccer game.
But actually jogging shirtless for some strange reason has always made me a bit nervous. Like you [referring to the owner of this blog], I was once one of those guys that thought the men running around without shirts were - gasp! - exhibitionists, and I H*A*T*E drawing attention to myself! But the first time I actually got the nerve to go running shirtless was last year, when I whipped my top off as I was jogging past Johns Hopkins University (lovely campus). Despite the worries about my not terribly buffed upper body (I've lost a bit of weight but still have a pound or two that likes to show itself), my chest hair (there's more than a bit) or people maybe yelling "PUT YOUR SHIRT ON!" (no one has ever done that), I got more comfortable with taking my shirt off when it was overly hot.
But today, I became one of the completely converted. For the first time ever, I made myself take my shirt off in my apartment, leave it on the bed, and head outside completely bare chested. My apartment is next to a small garage where some tenants have cars, so sneaking out the back was easy enough. But at least twice from the alley to the street, I told myself "Oh damn, I can't do this!" Still, as I got to the street, I just decided to forget about the others around me. I now live closer to downtown Baltimore, but it's still easy enough to find not-so-well-traveled side streets that I can jog without too many people seeing me - that does make it easier. But I jogged for the better part of an hour in the warm sun, completely stripped to the waist.
And I gotta say, man, it felt so much more natural, comfortable, freeing and even a bit empowering not having a shirt in hand. To top it off, not a single person seemed to care, or if they did they didn't say anything. On the downside, I forgot to bring water with me, so that made me miserable, but apart from that it just felt awesome. Sir, you have indeed converted me to the brotherhood / sisterhood of jogging shirtless / sportsbra'd, without a shirt in hand as a crutch, and I am looking forward to doing it again the next time I go jogging.