The past couple of weeks in New Hampshire have been quite hot and humid. Even running in the early morning hours before the full blast of the sun hits, it’s still a major sweatfest. My hair is soaked when it’s 50 degrees out so imagine what I look like when it’s above 70 with 100% humidity?
Yesterday morning while I was out on my run, I started to think about a recent conversation I had with my friend Robin. She was telling me about her run over the weekend. It was another wicked hot and humid day when she set out. Midway through the run, she was dying from the heat. She spontaneously decided to run sans tank top and run with only her sports bra on.
To back track a bit, Robin started running a few years ago. She’s done numerous races of varying distance including 2 half marathons and Mt. Washington this year. She’s in her late 50’s and a grandma.
Running is a sports bra alone had never crossed her mind until that day. And when she did strip down? She felt self conscious for a minute but then she thought – If guys can do it, so can I! She continued on her way and enjoyed the rest of her run feeling less overheated.
I’m 20 years younger than Robin and can only think of one time I’ve run sans shirt.
That’s a good question and one that I was pondering on my run.
For me, it comes down to vulnerability. I know what it’s like to get cat calls, whistles, stares and plain ol’ creepers following me even when I’m fully clothed wearing running tights and a jacket. With more exposed skin, I feel it attracts more attention. And truthfully, I’d rather blend in. Especially when it’s an early morning run. Ever since my creeper incident a couple of years ago, I’ve been jumpy on solo runs. If a car even slows down after passing me, I have my phone out ready to take a pic of the license plate.
It pisses me off that I have to even think about that. Does a man think about stuff like that? Hell no. A man will whip his shirt off no matter what the temperature is or the scenario.
The one time I did run with only a sports bra was on a group run. I guess I feel there’s safety in numbers. It’s been years since that run, would I do it again? Maybe. It depends on the situation. If it was crazy hot and humid and my shirt was so soaked with sweat that it was weighing me down, then yes. I do know that I would never leave my house wearing only a sports bra and intending on running. I think it would be more of a spur of the moment thing.
Photo by Nils Nilsen from the Saucony 26 Strong Competitor Magazine photo shoot.
As far as body confidence goes, I think that is a big obstacle for a lot of women. It’s something that would definitely pop into my head if I thought about shedding my shirt. When we did the photo shoot for Competitor Magazine last year, I remember Allison asking who would run in their sports bra for some photos. I was a definite NO. I don’t have six pack abs. Things shake quite a bit while running no matter what shape your abs are in. It’s one thing to run shirtless but to have it appear in print, no thanks.
But like everything when it comes to body perception, I’m 99% sure no one else would even bat an eye at my bare midriff (in print or real life). And just like Robin, I wouldn’t even think about it after 5 minutes of running and feeling heat relief.
Maybe if I lived in an area where it’s common to see women running in sports bras, I’d feel differently. I can only recall a handful of times seeing other women running in sports bras in my area. Unless it’s a race, then I’ve seen more. I know many friends who never run in anything but a sports bra all summer long. They live in the South. It’s a matter of summer running survival for them!
Bottom line – There really is no debate about running shirtless. If you like to, do it. If you want to, do it. If you don’t, no one is saying that you do. It’s that simple. I don’t judge women who wear a top over their sports bra and I don’t judge those who feel more comfortable wearing a sports bra only. And you shouldn’t either.
Do what works for you!
Linking up with Coaches Corner, Wild Workout Wednesday and Thinking Out Loud.
Sports bra only – yay or nay? Why?