Always covered up
June 3, 2014 12:23 AM   Subscribe

I like to run shirtless, but I have confidence issues! How can I convince myself I am not doing anything wrong, and not be stressed about it? If you lived in my apartment building (mainly young professionals, some young techie families) would you be offended by a shirtless guy in the elevator going out for a run?

When I go running, I run fast for up to 20km a time, and get hot easily. I also like being in the sun or feeling of the wind, or rain. However I often get nervous before I go outside, end up putting on a shirt, taking forever to convince myself it is ok (thinking for 5-10 minutes!), or taking it off during my run and having to carry it.

I am skinny and not hairy, but really happy and confident about it. (I am male, 31)

When I was 10-20 I was really shy about my body and covered up all the time (never wearing shorts or t-shirts), so I have a psychological fear of showing skin. But it is one of life's great pleasures. I often see men go shirtless and girls wear jogbras in my area, so it is not unusual. I just need confidence to get out the door.
The thoughts that run through my head are: what if no one else is shirtless today? - especially if it is cloudy or rainy. What if I offend someone and they yell at me? What would my friends think? (when I run with friends I always wear a shirt)
I do wear sunscreen.
posted by niccolo to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Running is fine (sunscreen though!) but in a shared elevator/lobby, it's a little much. It's sort of the equivalent of bathing suits. Get a thin tshirt to wear down and then tuck it into a pocket. Good if the weather turns or you need to go into a shop midway.
posted by viggorlijah at 12:31 AM on June 3, 2014 [18 favorites]

Best answer: As for what your friends think, you should probably ask them, and not the internet.

Exercising shirtless is great, and more power to you. As with many things in life though, context is key. Seeing a man running fast down the street sans top is one thing, being in an elevator with one is something else entirely. I wouldn't blink an eye at you if you ran past me in the street, but I would think you were ignoring some unspoken social boundaries if I rode the elevator with you.

Is your mailbox downstairs? Stuff your shirt in there when you leave. Throw in a bottle of water and a hand towel. Enjoy your run.
posted by tim_in_oz at 12:42 AM on June 3, 2014 [10 favorites]

Best answer: I'm a 33 year old introverted (and easily nervous) female and wouldn't have an issue with the elevator thing especially if you look like you're obviously going for a run (water bottle, shorts, sneakers). I've seen shirtless runners in 40 degree weather.
posted by KogeLiz at 1:16 AM on June 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

I think being shirtless in an enclosed space is different to being shirtless and basically running away from people. If you're just running past people on the street, then no matter how they feel about it, they're not going to have to put up with it for very long. In an elevator, you're in an enclosed space with someone who possibly doesn't know you, breaking a "standard societal convention" (that men don't show their chests in such spaces - an elevator is not the beach, for example).

Being in a shared space is not the same as forcing yourself into someone's area of attention. Outside, in a public area, the rules are different to those that are inside, in a public area.

To address the thoughts running through your head:

what if no one else is shirtless today?
Well, so what if no one else is shirtless today? Being the only person to do something doesn't make it wrong. It can still be 100% right for you.

What if I offend someone and they yell at me?
Then you've been yelled at. Happens to most folk at some point or another. You will survive that.

What would my friends think?
Probably just that you're not wearing a shirt. You could always ask them, to be sure, but what people think isn't really that important in the great scheme of things. People will ascribe all kinds of inaccurate and nonsensical motives to your behaviour, none of which matter. As long as you're not infringing on the rights of others, do what makes you happy.
posted by Solomon at 1:47 AM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

I get irritated with people who don't wear shirts in public (beach/pool excepted), but even so, I think your fear is a bit overblown. Someone like me might throw you a dirty look, but it's hard to imagine someone so offended they would yell at you.

I like the mailbox idea, if that could work for you. Definitely please wear shirts in elevators.
posted by ktkt at 1:53 AM on June 3, 2014 [8 favorites]

Honestly, no one is going to think about you while you are running or think about what you are wearing. No one cares for more than a brief second, if that.

But wear a shirt in the elevator.
posted by jeather at 1:56 AM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

I agree that the elevator is the weirdest part, but couldn't you just take the stairs? When I lived in a building with an elevator and a gym in the basement, I always took the stairs to warm up and because I didn't want to get in the elevator sweaty at the end of my workout. It just adds a little warm-up/cool-down.
posted by charmcityblues at 2:03 AM on June 3, 2014 [20 favorites]

Also, as a runner let me say pre-emptively that some yahoos will always yell at you (at least, here in suburban Sydney they do...). I always run with a shirt, and still get yelled at, so know if you get a few hollers it may not have anything to do with your nips.
posted by smoke at 3:30 AM on June 3, 2014

Interesting. I wouldn't care about anyone's elevator shirtlessness at all.

Then again, I live in a city (Portland, ME) where I see shirtless men smoking and hanging out in parks as soon as the temp hits 50.
posted by miss tea at 3:30 AM on June 3, 2014

If you lived in my apartment building (mainly young professionals, some young techie families) would you be offended by a shirtless guy in the elevator going out for a run?

Not offended, but definitely not pleased. I mean, the elevator is a common space, and therefore I expect everyone in it to be fully dressed at all times. (Unlike charmcityblues I think this also goes for the stairs.) Please wear clothing at all times when in any of the common areas of your building. It's the neighborly thing to do.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 3:35 AM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

You know, I don't really have a problem with a shirtless dude in an elevator heading out for a run, but the idea of a sweaty shirtless guy in the elevator on his way back up kind of squicks me out.

I really like the mailbox idea if you can do it. Or if you have a car, maybe throw your shirt in there as you head out of the parking lot?
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:31 AM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have run with a t-shirt in the back of my shorts, like a butt-cape. Maybe not stylie, but also an idea.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 5:16 AM on June 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

I wouldn't be offended per se, but I would definitely prefer that everyone walking around in my building / using the elevator is wearing a shirt, especially post-workout, and especially in the tight quarters of the elevator.

On the contrary, I wouldn't mind at ALL if someone was running outside shirtless. It's really about the confined quarters that bothers me.

And that being said, I wouldn't yell at someone who was shirtless in the building and can't picture anyone actually doing it.
posted by Shadow Boxer at 5:36 AM on June 3, 2014

I don't mind taking off my shirt mid-run and tucking it into my waistband. Then I've got a portable towel to wipe the sweat off my brow!
posted by dobi at 5:46 AM on June 3, 2014

My opinion - regardless of gender, hairiness, weight, etc.

Shirtless in the elevator: no, thanks
Shirtless running outdoors: okay

Maybe try a tank top?
posted by travelwithcats at 5:55 AM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't mind seeing shirtless runners out and about (though I always think "oh lord I hope he's wearing sunscreen") but a shirtless dude in the elevator would seem a little odd. Not full-on offensive or gross or creepy, but one of those "ehh, thanks but I'm taking the stairs" situations.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:57 AM on June 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

I would have said don't worry about it, but that doesn't seem to be the consensus. If you don't have a mailbox or car, just wear your oldest, most worn-out shirt and stash it behind a bush or something. You might get it stolen, what, once every 50 times? In that case you go up the elevator shirtless that time and start over with another shirt the next time.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 6:14 AM on June 3, 2014

I'd be really grossed out if I had to ride the elevator back UP with someone who was sweaty and shirtless. If it were someone shirtless but clean riding down, I would think it was uncouth and be a little peeved.

Can you put your shirt in your mailbox or somewhere else in the lobby? And just wear it once you're back at your building?

I'm interested that "what if someone yells at me" is part of your worry. As a woman, I assume someone is going to yell something at me at some point whenever I'm in an urban neighborhood (which, thank God, is no longer where I live.) You could couch it to yourself that you are doing psychology research, and investigating how the other half lives.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:20 AM on June 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

Not gonna lie, I feel like people should wear shirts in public unless they're at the beach or something. I get really hot really quickly when I run as well, but I'd be arrested if I ran shirtless as a woman. Admittedly when I'm out for a run and see shirtless men walking/running/biking, I do think "dude, put on a damn shirt" but I keep it to myself (regardless of how in/out of shape they are or how hirsute or not they may be), but there is no justification for yelling at someone. And yes, a shirt or tank top in your building should be expected as a courtesy to your neighbors - a tank, singlet, or something.
posted by raztaj at 6:34 AM on June 3, 2014 [11 favorites]

Shirtless in the elevator is definitely on the outskirts of creeper territory, so don't do that.
posted by BurntHombre at 6:41 AM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

I agree with wearing the shirt in the elevator. I likely wouldn't think anything of it, but I think it's a reasonable assumption that in enclosed places, it's probably best to err on the side of courtesy by wearing a shirt.

I'd be arrested if I ran shirtless as a woman

....depends on the state......
posted by zizzle at 6:44 AM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I run on a training team with a bunch of other folks and because I'm self-conscious and pale as a ghost with a pronounced tendency to burn, I always wear a tech shirt. However, many of the other runners on the team run shirtless. I do find that the shirtless runners attract a fair few yahoos who yell stupid things at them. FWIW, its always young dudes (usually driving past in cars) who yell something and its always so stupid that I'd find it easy to ignore.
posted by Lame_username at 6:47 AM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I also vote "no" for the shirtless in the elevator, unless you are wearing other very conspicuous "hey guys I'm a runner!" gear such as: running shorts, running sneakers, a running watch linked up to your pulse via an armband, headphones, sunglasses and those runner sweat headbands. Like this. Bonus points for not making eye contact / chit-chat and doing your pre-run stretches in the elevator.

Running shirtless outside... enjoy! The only time I find myself thinking "dude put a shirt on it" is if the person is flaunting things like that scene in Top Gun. If you're just MYOB and running then it's fine.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:07 AM on June 3, 2014

Response by poster: I was right to be concerned: definitely shirt in the elevator, especially on the way back! Thanks for confirming.

Mailbox or the car is a good idea. I didn't think of the mailbox. I was trying to avoid the laundry, but one extra tech shirt isn't really extra work. I also was trying to work around my introversion by avoiding the transition to shirtlessness in public.

Just to note: I run on trails which branch out from next to my apartment building, not through the streets. As was said up above, some people really don't like to see bare chests, and I understand. In Seattle area it is relatively common, so I think outdoors on trails is fine.
Yeah, when I go running, I look like a runner with all the gear. I really enjoy the half marathon distance!
posted by niccolo at 7:20 AM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

All three of my kids, when they were very little, would see men running shirtless in the park and crack up and say, "That man is naked! At the park! NAKED!! Heeheeheeheehee!" So if you see someone looking embarrassed who is with a small child, it could be she's whispering "Shush! Tell me about it later!" "Naaaaaaaaaakkkkkeddddd!!"
It may just have been my kids. Although once I had a friend's six year old and we drove past a shirtless muscley guy and she shrieked, "HE is a HANDSOME man!!"
So, sorry shirtless guys!
posted by artychoke at 7:38 AM on June 3, 2014 [10 favorites]

In practical terms, your running shorts are more "scandalous", most likely. Being smelly from sweat in the elevator is probably more offensive to others. If this were an office building, that would be one thing, but it seems fine in your own apartment building.
posted by the jam at 8:29 AM on June 3, 2014

Wouldn't be offended, but I second taking the stairs.
posted by sillymama at 9:11 AM on June 3, 2014

Best answer: I usually run in a sports bra and shorts, but if I'm travelling to a run or planning to go anywhere afterward (in other words, if I'm planning to share non-public, non-running space with people) I bring a shirt or singlet. If there's nowhere to stash it, I tuck it into the waistband of my shorts/into my fuel belt.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 1:02 PM on June 3, 2014

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