Dare to Bare?

Last week’s informal “poll” (for lack of a better word) was so informative for me that it changed the way I approach getting dressed to go running.  I won’t specify how it changed things, because a lady must have her secrets!  In light of how interesting it was to hear from so many of you about such an intimate issue, I thought I would put forth another question: when it comes to hot weather running, do you go sports bra only, or do you insist on keeping your shirt on?

Image via Runners World

Now, there are obviously a few factors here that make this question a bit less straightforward than the last one.  When it comes to wearing underwear underneath your running shorts or not, there’s no risk of feeling like everyone is staring at your and possibly judging you based on how you look in a sports bra and shorts.  So maybe, instead of thinking of this initial question as a poll, we can think of it as the beginning of a discussion.

To further our discussion, a few follow-up questions:

Do you ever find yourself wishing you had “the courage” to run shirtless?  Do you feel like you are more held back by your own feelings about your body, or by how people might respond to your body being on display?  If you do run shirtless, how did you decide to do it, and how does it make you feel?

In my case, I play around with the idea of running shirtless on a regular basis, and I’m not sure what holds me back.  I think to a certain degree that my fear about taking the plunge has a lot to do with my own feelings about my body, and wondering how I’ll feel if I do it.  Sometimes the feel of my legs rubbing together is enough to upset me–I’m not sure what it would be like to have an exposed midsection.  On the other hand, I live in an urban area, and I worry a little bit about what it would be like to run from my apartment to the park–to get to Central Park I have to go through some pretty high traffic areas.  I don’t know that I want to draw more attention to myself than I already do by virtue of the fact that I’m running.

What are your thoughts?


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  1. I’ve never run in only a sports bra. Usually I run in a gym, and I definitely wouldn’t do it there, but I would do it outside. I wouldn’t do it at a group run with my coworkers (we’re doing Couch to 5K so I go to that like once a week) because they’re beginner runners. But I could see doing it with a group of experienced runners, maybe.

    The real reason I always keep my shirt on though, is honestly because I don’t have any presentable sports bras, lol :).

  2. I think that I would be more comfortable running shirtless once I get my weight down to something I’m more comfortable with (I carry it pretty much all in my midsection/hips). I also live in Arizona though, so I feel like it’s almost a have to kind of thing in the summer. But I’m hoping to get a treadmill and wouldn’t mind running shirtless on it, as long as my roommate doesn’t mind either. 🙂

  3. I am very self-conscious about my midsection…it’s where I carry any and all body-fat. I’ll be this first to admit I have awesome legs and actually love to show them…but I fear that my running might suffer because I would be so worried about people wondering how this ‘fat-giggly’ chick can run. I realize it is really just in my head…and I have RARELY (if ever) passed by anyone I know on my runs so really, who would care??

    I run at home on my treadmill w/o a shirt and love it. i really just need to get over myself and try it…I’m betting it would be way more comfortable in this summer heat, and who knows, maybe it could help boost my confidence??

  4. I never thought I would be comfortable running shirtless, but then I truly encountered what it means to run in 95+ degree heat with 100% humidity. At that point, you stop caring and just want to stay as cool as possible.

  5. I do NOT look like the chick in the picture above but when it was 88 degrees and 88% humidity this last Sunday, to hell with that…I ran in shorts and my bra. Once I got a quarter-mile in, I didn’t think about it again, but I felt a little naked when I started.

    I can’t decide if I am uncomfortable running shirtless because I don’t think I look good (I’m almost 42 and I do, HA) or if I feel like it’s saying “I look awesome, check me out.” What’s most amusing is that I have relatively tan arms and shoulders but none on the midsection since I don’t go to the pool, so the soft edges are also very WHITE edges and that always looks squishier.

  6. Good question! I usually don’t feel the *need* to run shirtless, but this past weekend was so hot I seriously considered it. I guess it is kind of a self conscious thing though, because I didn’t end up doing it. But on the other hand, I lay out in a bikini in the park or beach with no problem. Which is kind of weird!

  7. I’ve thought about it from time to time, but end up being too self-conscious to actually do it. Though there was one time in the middle of a run that I tried out tucking my shirt under my bra to get some air flowing – it felt really good, but obviously the shirt doesn’t stay tucked and it was annoying to fiddle with it. After that, I thought about running out in my sports bra from time to time, but convince myself not to. Maybe one day I’ll work up the courage to actually do it.

    And…speaking of running in your underwear… August 5th (the Friday before the Nautica NYC Triathlon) there is an underwear run in Central Park – just the 1.7 miles of the lower loop and you can possibly win a trip for 2 to Jamaica!

  8. Someone else made an interesting point – I wear a bikini to the beach, but the thought of running topless makes me cringe. Then again, where I live the temperature rarely rises above 75, so the issue doesn’t come up.

    I have no problem wearing just a sports bra top in Bikram classes though!

  9. I have never, ever, ever, ever, ever run outside in just my sports bra, even when I run in 100+ weather. I’m just not comfortable that way. I will run on my treadmill at home sometimes that way, but even then I feel uncomfortable. I know that outside I just don’t want to bring any more attention to myself, I’ve already had people yell things when running on city streets, so I fear that running in just a bra might invite more of that. But inside my own home, that’s just my insecurity yelling at me.

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