Paul hates runners; then he loves them. Weirdo
Regular readers will know an essential truth about me. I love runners. All shapes, all speeds, all sizes. I don’t differentiate in my admiration for anyone who laces up their trainers and sets forth into the world with a desire to get fit, run faster, feel better. It’s all good. But I’m human, so I’m imperfect and so are other runners. That means they occasionally annoy me. So I’ve constructed a list of runners who get on my nerves during races.
First up, ‘ the breathers’. This includes everyone, of course, but I’m talking about that throaty breathing, the type that makes you worry for the survival of the breather while simultaneously making you want to throw them into a river. If you catch sight of a breather’s face, their eyes are usually fixed at a point on the distant horizon and they run as if being chased by wolves. Each breath is accompanied by mangled phrases, bizarre utterances, appeals to deities. I know it’s unreasonable of me but this behaviour falls under the category of ‘showboating’. We’re all knackered, after all. The unkind thought comes to mind that maybe they could put a sock in it. This group continues to annoy me after the race, when they can usually be found screaming ‘ Yes!’ repeatedly, clenching their fist and holding their Garmin aloft. I know I’m being very uncharitable and I swear that I don’t envy runners’ success – but can you not celebrate privately? (The only advantage of running in the same race as a breather is that they often spur you on to faster times in a bid to escape their tortured bellowing.)
After unjustly slamming one group of runners, whose only crime is to try too hard, I turn my twisted attention to a group who don’t try hard enough – the runners who, midrace, exuberantly thank the marshal or volunteer in a loud and cheery voice. Every time. Every marshal. Now this isn’t to say I’m not thankful to the volunteers who make racing possible. Their devotion in all weathers is humbling. It’s just that I’m often too knackered to show it. But I’m grateful. In fact, I’m just as grateful as the runner who shouts. Therein lies my problem: for every ‘Thank you!’ hurled in the marshal’s direction I feel a hissed ‘ You didn’t say “Thank you”’ directed at me. I feel judged, even though I myself am full of judgement. And then I think, ‘If they’re so full of beans, why are they racing at my level when they have the energy to run faster?’
Who else? Oh yes, runners who try to overtake me in the chute for the finish stick in my craw. This is a cardinal sin for me.
I have more: other runners who express disappointment at my time. It’s my time. I earned it. The only reaction to any time is a hearty ‘ Well done!’ If I want to diminish it, I will, then we can all pile in.
Another group who get my goat are newbies who are faster than I am. Now this is utterly irrational. I have to accept that certain runners annoy me because they are younger, have run loads less and are faster than I am. But they often have heart-rate monitors and are wearing compression socks, which intensifies my momentary disdain.
Overstretchers annoy me. I get it. You’re flexible. Runners who warm down wind me up, too, because I used to be able to do that and now I’m too tired and looking for the chippy. Runners who want to talk too much during a race annoy me, but so do runners who ignore me when I talk to them.
As you can see, I’m confused. Once the race is done I love everyone again, even the ‘ Yes!’ runners, when they’ve calmed down. The race is where we come together, but thank goodness I can train alone.