Reader Mailbag: Running Shirtless a Do or a Don’t?

Reader Mailbag: Running Shirtless a Do or a Don’t?

By Megan Collins | Last Updated: Oct 14 2016 | 3 min read

Today, a style question from a reader who wants to know if he can skip clothes altogether! The best letter to dig out of my mailbag in a minute…

Adam asks:

I think this is more of a personality question than a style question, but how do you feel about guys running outside without a shirt on.  I’ve always thought it ranged from somewhat tacky to pretty uncomfortable, depending on how good of shape you’re in.

I ask because I’ve thought about it, but always decided ‘clothed’ was the way to go.. What are your thoughts?

What a good one! This is something I actually DO think about a lot, what with my confirmed status as an enthusiastic-but-totally-not-that-good-at-all runner. So I am ready for you.

My take on it: So long as a guy’s in decent shape, I have no issue with him running shirtless. If you’re more comfortable and feel cooler in your workout, go for it. Plus, you avoid above-the-waist chafing issues that are gross and something we will never speak of again on this website.

So long as you have good coordination (I can imagine nothing so icky as bumping into – then sliding off – a runner in his sweaty last mile), I’ve got no beef with a shirt-free runner guy.

I’m curious; when you say that running outside without a shirt on is “pretty uncomfortable,” who do you think it’s pretty uncomfortable for? For you? Or for the people who have to (get to?) look at you in all your bare-chested perspiration-streaked glory? Personally, I would imagine that if you’re running outside for distances long enough for you to even entertain the idea of taking your shirt off, you’re probably in good enough shape to look good doing it.

It’s funny, actually, because I always envied guys for their ability to run shirtless without feeling funny about it. Because, if you’ll allow me to turn the questioning back on you for a minute, would you mind seeing me do it? Now that the weather is getting cooler, this won’t really be a concern for me, but I can’t tell you how often in the summer I wistfully dream of a run clad only in a sports bra and shorts. And try to push past the “duh, yes! girls without their shirts on!” to a place of like, “Would I think less of this person if I saw them running with their shirt off?” Because that’s my bigger concern; is it unseemly? Knowing that I don’t judge you for your shiftlessness should probably be answer enough for me that it’s okay, but I still feel funny about it. Following your line of original questioning, would you think I was tacky? Would it make you uncomfortable?

No right or wrong answer here, but maybe just a plea for us all to be a little less ashamed of our bodies? Whoah! Screw you Catholic guilt; apparently I’m liberated now. That’s it, I’m running topless till January.

And because you’ve been so kind as to allow me a reason to google “guys running shirtless” and get sucked into an image search vortex of bouncing peeks, here’s a picture of Miley Cyrus a few boyfriends (and inches of hair) ago running for some ungodly reason in a bikini top and jean shorts.

You’re welcome.


(Images 1, 2)

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