Runners are an odd bunch. I’ve known this since I started running and have fully accepted the quirks that come along with the sport (because really, who actually runs for fun?!?) In my experience, the longer the distance the more evident this quirkiness becomes (which must be attributed to far too much time spent in one’s own head or filling hour long conversations with running partners).
On my run yesterday morning, it occurred to me that there are a number of things that really irk me that I’m fairly certain the general public would pay no mind to (or only be mildly annoyed with). So because I spent far too much time in my own head this morning, I have compiled the following list of minor annoyances that I’m fairly certain that only runners can relate to:
#1 – Things that Block the Sidewalk
Cars, toys, people (who have no awareness of their surroundings), Christmas light strings… anything that interferes with the path on the sidewalk is a major pet peeve of mine (not to mention, in most communities it is technically prohibited). Some offenders are worse than others. A house trying to squeeze in four cars – somewhat understandable (especially during the winter months when overnight street parking may also be forbidden). But the driveways that are completely empty but-for the vehicle parked over the sidewalk – they drive me crazy! Many of my neighbors are also particularly bad about their Christmas lights. It’s one thing to have them neatly tacked down. It’s another to have the stings haphazardly loose – especially when it’s pitch black outside at both ends of the day! I have had to restrain myself on a number of occasions from calling the Village Hall and reporting certain neighbors as repeat offenders (luckily, by the time I arrive home my endorphins have kicked in and I no longer carry the same agitation on the issue).
#2 – Cars that Don’t Stop at Stop Signs/ Traffic Control Devices
Okay, I suppose this one applies to non-runners as well. The oh-so-popular rolling stop. I’m sure that person has somewhere really
important to go that would prevent them from actually taking the extra 3 seconds to stop their vehicle. I’m not sure what’s worse – when the person sees you and makes eye contact (giving you a false sense of security) and then proceeds to roll through or the person who is completely distracted and doesn’t even acknowledge your presence. When I was in high school, I remember a very near miss with a person who couldn’t bother looking up from their newspaper (I’m aging myself, as these days it would be a smart phone). PSA: eyes on the road people!
#3 – The Weather
Again, I realize that non-runners care about the weather but I would surmise that the average individual doesn’t check to forecast obsessively throughout the day. This weather obsession becomes tenfold the week leading up to a race. Not only does a runner know what their phone says the weather is going to be – but all of the local news channels as well (at least one has to be favorable to the cause, right?!?) During a training season I tend to take the weather reports very personally (of course it is going to rain the day I have a speed session planned). Heat in the summer and cold in the winter (and wind anytime) is far worse when you are planning on being outside for extended periods of time. Here in the Chicago area there’s a very real chance we could get all four seasons in a single day. Try planning your run around that.
#4 – Loss of Battery Life
Before I committed myself to becoming more “zen” in my running I was completely dependent on all sorts of technology to get me through a run. Watch? Check. iPod? Check. Phone? Check. If any one of these devices had low battery (or God forbid lost power) the entire run would be at jeopardy. For some reason this seemed to happen most often with my watch. I would leave it on the cradle to charge overnight, only to discover one of the prongs hadn’t attached correctly and the watch had gained no power at all. This crisis was only intensified if my scheduled run was a long run. Having your phone die in “real life” is annoying but typically can be easily resolved (it’s not too difficult these days to locate a spare charger from a colleague or at a convenience store). Losing power before a run on the other hand can lead to a full blown crisis situation.
#5 – People Who Stare/ Heckle
Why do people feel the need to stare at runners? I know that I may not be the most graceful person out there, but I would like to believe that the person from their car can’t actually see the drool running down my face. These encounters can range from slightly annoying to full blown creepy (for example, when the same car seems to be circling the subdivision you are running in or starts shouting at you out the car window).
While this is certainly a very real hazard (and yet another reason why it is so important to be aware of your surroundings at all times), I have also had a very scary situation turn out to be my own hyper-vigilance. A few years ago I was running around my parent’s neighborhood in the very early morning hours and spotted a car that seemed to always be driving down the block I was running on. I kept turning down different streets (with me going one way and the car going the other) only to see it reappear time and time again. After this happened 4-5 different times I finished the run by sprinting to my parent’s house and urging my brother to hop in my car with me to follow the vehicle and get a license plate number. We found the vehicle almost immediately – delivering newspapers throughout the neighborhood.
Agree? Disagree? Anything you would add to this list? What do you find most irks you during runs?