Half-Nekkid Runners

16 Sep

“’Naked’ means you’re running around with no clothes on. ‘Nekkid’ means you’re running around with clothes on and you’re up to something.” ~ Suzanne Sugarbaker, Designing Women

Many moons ago, my mom was obsessed with a television show called Designing Women. There was one particular character, who was a total sass-mouth, named Suzanne Sugarbaker. While it was so long ago, I do not remember the context in which this quote was said, but it has stood out to me for YEARS. I must have thought it was hilarious as a child!

In a roundabout way, this makes me think of today’s topic…shirtless runners. (Blame my ADHD for that wacky train of thought.) There has been much debate among the running community if running shirtless should really be considered acceptable for men or women. Personally, it has never really offended me to see male or female runners running sans singlet as it gets hotter than Hades here in South Louisiana. However, there are many in the running community that think this is entirely inappropriate and considered to be showing too much skin.

So I ask, do these ads offend you?

Photo courtesy of Saucony


Photo courtesy of Moving Comfort


Neither ad resonates negatively with me at all. In regards to the male runner, I feel like this ad shows no more skin than I would see if we took a family trip to the beach. In fact, lots of male runners at my weekly running groups will arrive to group with a tech tee on, take it off for the run (leaving it somewhere at the start) and then throw it on afterwards for when we are all standing around hanging out. In regards to the female runner, all I can say is…JEALOUS. Let me tell you…if I had a body that toned, I would literally be running around naked…or rather, nekkid. Yes, NEKKID. Okay, well, maybe not, but don’t think I haven’t had dreams where I show up to a race in my birthday suit. Plus, she is actually more covered up than what what you would see most women wearing at the beach!

At the end of the day, if someone has the confidence to show off a well-toned body that they have worked hard for, kudos to them! And if they have the confidence to show of a not well-toned body that they are still proud of, even bigger high fives! I know some people may find runners without shirts on distracting, inappropriate, or not family-friendly, but its okay with me.

How do you feel about topless runners? Do you find it to be distracting or unnecessary? Does it offend you? If so, what about it makes you feel uncomfortable?

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26 Responses to “Half-Nekkid Runners”

  1. Emily September 16, 2011 at 9:10 AM #

    Me no likey. I always say, “a bra is a bra”! It just seems kind of…unsanitary to me, or something.

  2. ldeblieux September 16, 2011 at 9:12 AM #

    No problems with it on the road, although I do prefer when people are fully covered at the gym, but that’s mostly because clothes catch sweat and I don’t want to deal with someone else’s bodily excretions if they aren’t fully dressed.

  3. Heidi September 16, 2011 at 9:18 AM #

    Doesn’t really bother me. If they are comfortable enough with themselves to flaunt it – more power to them. But yes – if I had a body like hers you bet I’d be showing that baby off every time I got the chance.

  4. Brenton September 16, 2011 at 9:20 AM #

    I’m one of those runners you reference. I run shirtless from roughly April through September. I can’t wear a shirt in the summer, because I just sweat too much. I’ve never given it a second thought that someone might be offended seeing me run shirtless. And frankly, I don’t care. If anything, I hate winter because I have to figure out what to wear, how many layers, gloves, hat, etc. Give me summer when I can put on my shorts and head out the door.

  5. lifeisarun September 16, 2011 at 9:21 AM #

    I don’t have an issue with it. Like you said people sometimes wear less to the beach or a swimming pool. I just tend to think it’s awesome they have the body and confidence to be in that outfit. Plus I know some dudes that run without shirts, have a good body and still worry about how they look shirtless. Even though they are shirtless there still can be a lack of self-esteem.

  6. Alf Tupper September 16, 2011 at 9:29 AM #

    I live and run in Scotland. Running without a shirt is not something you would often even consider. I sometimes go short-sleeved in the height of summer! In other seasons I keep exposed areas only for the purposes of sight and breathing.

    • katieRUNSthis September 16, 2011 at 2:33 PM #

      That’s really interesting. Would people not consider it because it would be socially inappropriate or is the weather/temperature not conducive to running shirtless?

      • Alf Tupper September 16, 2011 at 4:14 PM #

        Oh no, we are famously socially inappropriate and if it ever does get hot you will see lots of pasty bodies exposed at the first glimpse of sun. They certainly don’t normally look anything like your example ads. We just don’t get the kind of summers you guys have Stateside. The good news is that there is almost never a day too hot to run and we have a pretty busy race season thoughout the summer.

  7. KaraFitz September 16, 2011 at 9:30 AM #

    I don’t have an issue in it. One of my runner friends is always in a bra and compression shorts and she is in her 40’s. I envy her. I hope I look that good at her age!

  8. Brooke September 16, 2011 at 9:49 AM #

    it depends on the circumstance. at the midnight 8K in july it was HOT! i saw several shirtless beer bellies on the course. i just wish i were that confident!

    as for the lady in 50* temps at the Turkey Trot this past Thanksgiving? Wear a shirt lady – its not that hot.

  9. Maggie September 16, 2011 at 9:52 AM #

    I have no problem with it but I’m kind of “liberal” about these matters [nudity]. I won’t get all “political” about it, I’ll just say that my view is that the human body is a beautiful thing. If you’re comfortable showing it off without breaking any laws, I’m comfortable looking at it. Especially if you have a nice body.

  10. lance September 16, 2011 at 9:53 AM #

    The saucony ad is just great.living in Texas I can run shirtless a lot

    • katieRUNSthis September 16, 2011 at 2:32 PM #

      Don’t you love it? I love his caveman hair. 🙂

  11. Kayla @ Best Things Happen September 16, 2011 at 9:57 AM #

    I say, If you’ve got it, flaunt it! Why not? Especially outside! I admire people who have that kind of freedom with their bodies. And how much more fun is running when you’re not all constricted by belts and gizmos and zippers! It’s how our ancestors did it right?

  12. Lauren @ Forward is a Pace September 16, 2011 at 10:56 AM #

    My issue is when I see high school teams out running shirtless. You’re in SCHOOL. The coach is likely a teacher at your school. Put some freaking clothes on.

    Other than that, I have no issue with it. 😉

  13. Kristie September 16, 2011 at 11:01 AM #

    I have more of a problem with women for some reason. If they’ve worked hard & have a great body we can all see it even with their clothes on. My problem is more with the ones that shouldn’t wear it. Yes distracting! To me, bras were designed to wear Under something.

  14. Lani Yearicks (@armytbonegirl) September 16, 2011 at 11:09 AM #

    “if someone has the confidence to show off a well-toned body that they have worked hard for, kudos to them” <——- My thoughts exactly!! Now, maybe there are *some* people that *should* wear shirts (extremely hairy guys, for one), but I think it's a personal preference. I know I did a few races this summer in just running bra and skirt – and showed off my baby bump along with it. I got some looks, but I don't really care what others think as long as I'm comfortable with myself.

    • katieRUNSthis September 16, 2011 at 2:19 PM #

      Good for you for showing off your bump! I *wish* could feel comfortable doing that. I just can’t. I admire it when other women do it though!!!

  15. chad September 16, 2011 at 11:19 AM #

    It’s interesting that more folks are offended by women in bra-only than men shirtless. Men are gross, but everyone should run shirtless. It’s so much better than with. Better yet, run how you want and F the world.

    • katieRUNSthis September 16, 2011 at 2:18 PM #

      Ha! This made me laugh! “Men are gross”…that’s hilarious. Most of the times, yes…you are!

  16. Kaya Koban (@kayuyum) September 16, 2011 at 1:15 PM #

    I’m totally cool with the running shirtless and with South Louisiana’s late spring, summer, and early fall you basically have to. I don’t run shirtless… yet. I’m working hard to get to that point. And I must admit, when I see a good-looking, toned guy running shirtless, I admire the scenery. People should be able to run comfortably however they see fit – as long as they’re not breaking any laws.

  17. Daria September 16, 2011 at 3:16 PM #

    I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about it but I’m not offended at all by either sex being half naked. I sometimes wear just a sports bra in the gym or out running. I’m in Southern California so this is an option most of the year. At the gym, I just ask that one use a towel to mop their sweat up. I think the amount of tattoos I have on back and sides, might cause some to stare, but who cares. In my experience, I find that the women have the biggest problem other women showing “too much” skin. I say “oh, whatever” to that. I would run naked (or, nekkid) if I knew I wouldn’t get arrested.

  18. Jeff September 16, 2011 at 7:14 PM #

    My only issue is on the roads. It can be distracting to drivers 🙂

  19. Jennifer September 16, 2011 at 10:56 PM #

    I think people should run however they are most comfortable.

  20. Randy @ Coffee on the Run September 17, 2011 at 9:58 AM #

    For me, running shirtless isnt about flaunting anything I have…I don’t have much, but it is much more about…uhh…

    Bloody Nipples.

    A sweat laden shirt in the summertime can absolutely destroy your nipples. My wife says this isn’t a problem for girls, but for me, it is quite painful. Running shirtless alleviates it as an issue. I tend to think that people would stare at me more if I had two giant red streaks running down my shirt.

  21. trailrunningchick October 2, 2011 at 6:41 PM #

    I’ve run with just a bra and a short several time this summer when the temperature was just too high for me. I was either at the park or on the trails and didn’t think much about it.
    It’s not like I’m running in a bikini, I’m covered and you won’t see anything you shouldn’t see anyway.

    Guys don’t bother me either, except maybe sometimes a few that could stay hidden for my personal taste but when you run you don’t have to look at anyone for long unless they are part of your group anyway.

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