U.S. running enthusiast Bill Bradley grew up in a desolate area where conditioning exercises along the Lake Michigan shoreline got him into the habit of running shirtless. He moved to a big city and kept up this practice — until his girlfriend told him he looked ridiculous running in nothing but shorts.
Her admonishment tickled his fancy so he made up fun rules for guys who want to run topless that include these pointers:
- Only run topless in areas where there are more corn stalks than people.
- Forget a shirt if you’re training for a mud run and hate doing laundry.
- Don’t run topless if your body is covered with tattoos that can scare kids.
- Never wear a shirt if your body is a dead ringer for Matthew McConaughey’s!
Laughing through Bradley’s story got us thinking about the differences in attitudes between the east and west-especially in Singapore where sultry heat can be a challenge for runners who (were nobody else around) might be tempted to take off every stitch of clothing - women included. After all, being naked is instinctual, primal and it just feels natural!
Health Benefits of Going Topless
Removing clothing isn’t just a good idea when the heat’s blazing; it’s a terrific idea if you want to stay healthy. Your body will do a better job of trapping and absorbing vitamin D, which can elevate your mood.
Toxins released when you sweat contribute to a healthy immune system, your skin breathes and skin pressure marks made by restrictive clothing (especially elastics) disappear to improve your circulation.
Dr. Sunesara, a Mumbai physician, has been doing pioneering work in brain health and he is convinced that barefoot running stimulates the brain and keeps Alzheimer’s disease at bay. His research proves that running without lots of clothing boosts neuron connections that increase brain flexibility.
Other scientists say that athletes who avoid sweat-drenched clothing are less vulnerable to opportunistic bacteria and fungi, so by running shirtless, runners get fewer infections. The science, as you can see, offers lots of reasons for running in the buff.
What Constitutes Naked?
In a world filled with double meanings, hidden verbal signals and cultural differences, a single word can have 20 different meanings in 20 languages, so it helps to know what kind of naked we’re talking about in this article. Obviously women who decide to rip off their garments and run a marathon in Singapore are likely to attract a crowd…of mental health specialists bearing straitjackets!
In one running community, a great debate arose about whether one is considered naked if he or she shows up devoid of technology.
The discussion grew so lively, participants coined four terms runners can use to describe this practice: If you “go Amish,” you run without any technology; “Going off the grid” means you run without transmittable devices, save a watch; “Going stupid” means a runner wears a device but keeps apps disabled; and if you “Go Naked,” you’re running Amish style in just a pair of shorts!
Are You Ready to Run Naked?
It’s the chance you’ve been waiting for: sign up for the YOLO Run, a premier event that not only rewards participants with race entitlements and a chance to win product vouchers valued at up to S$500, but you’re going to make a huge personal statement about the reason for this charitable event: the fight against breast cancer.
Shirts are persona non grata, so you’ll be required to compete shirtless (dudes) or in a sports bra (dudettes) to send a signal that ending breast cancer in our lifetime is possible!
The 22 October run will be held at the Bay East Garden area of Gardens by the Bay from 7:30 a.m. to noon, but getting to the venue before the flag off gives you a chance to loosen up, meet your fellow runners and get the lay of the land before you set off on either your 10km or 5km (non-competitive) event.
Save some cash by joining the early bird crowd: register before 18th September and keep tabs on the run site to get the latest updates on entertainment associated with this charity run so you are ready to do your bit for breast cancer.
About The Cause
Every woman who has faced breast cancer experienced the fear that comes with facing one’s mortality, and that fear doesn’t disappear just because surgery and post-operative therapies rid the body of the cancer. Recovery requires fortitude, stamina, hope and strength — and for many women, the journey is easier if they are candidates for breast reconstruction surgery that is so essential to a woman’s peace of mind and self-image.
Breast reconstruction surgery is a personal, emotional issue and while not every woman in Singapore opts for this procedure, many are delighted to have it available.
Because the YOLO Run is dedicated to these women, race partners X-Change Republic Pte. Ltd. and Breast Reconstruction Awareness Singapore (BRAS) will donate a sports bra to the charity’s recovery efforts for every shirtless runner who competes, so your entry fee makes a very meaningful contribution on multiple levels.
Want to Keep Running Naked?
Let’s say you’re so stoked about running naked at the 2016 YOLO run that you want to do it again and again - but you don’t want to wait for the 2017 YOLO run to take off your shirt. We’ve got some extreme suggestions that might appeal to you:
- Show up in Pamplona Spain on 4th July for the Running of the Nudes! PETA activists stage this run two days before the Running of the Bulls to protest animal cruelty, so you’re invited to take it all off, get splashed with red paint, don plastic bull horns and race from the Santo Domingo corrales to the Plaza de Toros. Learn more here.
- Participate in the Ritual Dance of the Brave, a race staged in the Philippines. Participants don’t have to run, but at the very least, they must walk naked along the route handing out roses to female spectators. Called the Oblation Run since 1977, this outrageous event is staged annually to rail against injustice, so it’s a major protest movement. A few brave women have begun to participate in this event!
- Social activist Conrad Schmidt of Vancouver Canada decided it was time to protest war using bicycles and nudity to grab the world’s attention. The World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) also celebrates “the power and individuality of the human body.” Organizers prioritize the bike riding aspect of this publicity effort and WNBR events are staged throughout the world in March (southern hemisphere) and June (northern hemisphere). Head for Australia or New Zealand to get in on the action.
More Reasons to Run Naked
We’ve listed the health benefits of shedding clothing and told you about your opportunity to participate in the 2016 YOLO run supporting breast cancer survivors, but we suggest four other reasons to run the YOLO run that have nothing to do with either:
- Run shirtless and you get an opportunity to show off the body you’ve been working so hard to maintain!
- You will inspire confidence in others who think, “If she can run wearing a sports bra, I can too!” or “I look as good without a shirt as that guy, what am I doing wearing this stupid shirt?”
- Pay tribute to your faith by remembering that everyone comes into this world naked and without benefit of the material trappings people so often use to feel better about themselves.
- Weigh in on the world’s “shaming” dialog. Writer Melissa Kirk explores this topic in “Psychology Today” magazine. She rails against body shaming among women, so your shirtless state sends a powerful message.
We’re not sure why, but topless running seems a popular subject in cyberspace, so if you’d like to join a conversation before or after the 2016 YOLO run, let us know in the comments.
What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done that required you to go topless? No need to send us photos; we’ll believe you!