Shirt or no shirt? That is the question.
Whether for comfort, performance or just plain aesthetics, opting not to wear a shirt or singlet while running is a personal choice. Yet so many runners have an opinion on it. Going completely shirtless is an option available mainly to men, although some would argue that women wearing a sports bra alone is a similar scenario.
Regardless, the decision to bare an abundance of skin is also likely to rouse a response from onlookers. Often other runners display either strong opposition or tepid tolerance. Why exactly is that? Why are runners’ opinions so strong on this one?
Running without a shirt can have its advantages. In humid conditions, a shirt can quickly become drenched in sweat and when saturated, will be physically heavy to wear, likely uncomfortable and no longer provide a cooling effect. However in hot, but not necessarily humid weather, a shirt actually helps draw sweat–and thus heat–away from the body to help keep it cool. Most obviously, a shirt also helps block the sun’s harmful UV rays from exposed skin. Some might argue, it’s also more socially acceptable.
Most running events also require or strongly encourage wearing a shirt which is used to pin a bib/race number to the body for easy identification.
What are your thoughts? Is running without a shirt acceptable? In what conditions could it be?