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Nude Running: All The Answers You’re Looking For

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Nude running is more common than you may think. Running In The USA has listed several naked 5K’s, trail runs, and novelty runs every year.  With several sanctioned races, plenty of willing participants, it’s safe to say that there’s a subculture that we may need to take some time to understand.

Why Run Naked?

Intrigued by the naked run, I decided to reach out to my online running community, the Sub30 Club, about their experiences on the topic. The “friends in my phone” did not disappoint as they informed, answered questions, and chatted about why they chose to literally “drop everything” and run.

Some runners reported a desire to add excitement to their run, some thought it would be liberating, and one gentleman referenced a drunken dare that caused him to register for the race.

One naked runner stated, “Everyone should try it. It’s liberating.” Another surprised me by saying she was just super hot, running on a 90+ degree day, and stripped down. She did not encounter anyone on the run, so she didn’t have reason to be self-conscious, but still found it surprisingly comfortable and “freeing.”

But don’t you feel funny? Like everyone is staring? Apparently, you don’t. It seems that occasionally a person will register for the race and run completely clothed. According to my sources, those are the folks everyone stares at while wondering, “Why not register for a different 5K if you plan to come clothed, run, then leave awkwardly at the end?” Unfortunately, no one in my running community knows the answer to that question.

Outside my running community, I connected with Christopher, a consultant and long-time nude runner. He tells me that he began to enjoy the experience after running in 10 of Harvard’s Primal Screams. In addition, a longstanding campus tradition brings students out in December and May to blow off steam after a long semester.

“I found it to be quite exhilarating, especially during winter. I think it’s why running in the nude is more of an adrenaline rush, as the subsequent “crash” afterward seemed to help stressed-out students relax and sleep better”.
– Christopher

Nude Running Rules & Guidelines

Most of these events are touted as clothing-optional with no hard, fast rules. Many women report wearing a sports bra, but, according to my sources, plenty of women leave the bra at home. One participant replied, “I think that is a personal decision made based on breast size, running pace, and general comfort when I inquired about this. As a small-breasted woman, I have no issues. My friend, however, needs support, so she wears a bra.”

I wondered if people wear shoes, I was told that most people wear shoes, but some run barefoot.

What about underwear? What if you’re menstruating? What if.. what if .. what if?? The only consensus is that the nudists at these events are pretty non-judgemental. Do what makes you comfortable. “Except stare. That’s rude.”

Christopher reiterates that “Nude runs are for mature adults only. Some people come for the hippie aspect, others for the feeling of being naked outside and amongst other people. For me, it’s more of that antiquated Roman gladiator or Greek Olympian rush I get.”

Don’t“Things” Jiggle or Bounce?

“If things bounce beyond your comfort, put something on,” is what I was told. “It’s all about runner comfort.”

I just spit out my coffee when one man commented, “I wasn’t blessed with having to worry about the bounce.” What an honest answer, one I found refreshing. I suppose that is the point, isn’t it? Honesty. And that our body is what it is.

“Our ancestors ran naked,” another man said. “They figured it out.” I had not considered that.

What About the Chafe?

Only one person stated that chafe is not an issue. However, the consensus agreed that Body Glide, and other lubricants, are your friend – especially when running nude.

Many runners tout the importance of using anti-chafe creams or lotions, even when clothed, to prevent problems. However, others don’t find it necessary.

The Practice Run

One runner friend said he wondered about nude running and tried it out on his treadmill at home, as he has been hemming and hawing about joining in. After hearing that, I asked a few participants if they had done practice runs before a race. Half said yes, half said they had decided to just “wing it” on race day.

Naked Running Pitfalls

Sweat was the number one complaint of nude runners. When wearing clothing, the sweat has something to absorb it. When running naked, it just runs down your body.

Many runners struggle with chafe, whether clothed or naked. However, with everything “free,” things become more pronounced as an issue.

One lady I interviewed said next time she would bring spray-on sunscreen. I was confused when she explained that a gentleman asked to borrow her sunscreen then declined when he realized it was lotion because he didn’t want to “rub it in.” Ummm, yeah. Had not considered that. Also, you are exposing areas that the sun does not typically see.

Also, even if you don’t normally wear bug spray, it can be a good idea because flies are attracted to odors. “Think cows’ butts,” she said.

Check. No tail to swish, so wear bug spray.

What Are Nude Races Like?

We’ll let Christopher provide some color here;

“At first, it’s just people standing around being naked. But then, there is a speech by the ringleader, and then you start running. 

Most nude bike rides and runs often involve body paint all over their skin, which is a culture or statement or theme I have never participated in or would. I want a tan, though. But, unfortunately, I’m also a fairly conservative, confident, banker-lawyer-looking fellow with a tall build and the muscular stride of a 250-lbs rugby player on a mission, so unserious runners tend to get out of my way.

Once you start running, you see an ocean of butt cheeks jiggling in front of you until you pull ahead to the front of the pack, which I always do. This is also why I prefer to run by myself on a secluded beach instead. I’m not there for the visual or to spectate. I’m just there for the adrenaline rush, wind on my skin, and a good night’s sleep afterward.”

Leaving Your Comfort Zone

As I reached out to fellow runners who had participated in nude races, I received the same piece of advice. Read this book: Running Outside Your Comfort Zone by Susan Lacke.

Lacke devotes an entire chapter to naked running after realizing that her running had gotten stale, and she sought a way to rejuvenate it; through more “adventurous running.”

Remember when you were a kid and someone “double dog dared” you to do something? Then, naked running might be just the thing you need to rekindle your spirit, running life, and quest for new life experiences.


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