Runner Gripes

I haven't been a runner for long. Maybe a year in total. I bought a treadmill last January (yes, it was a 2004 New Year's resolution), used it for about six months, and then...well, didn't. It gathered dust and cat hair. It stood silent in a much-ignored spot in the basement, until this past January, when I decided to start using it again.

I live in upstate New York where the winters are frigid. It's not uncommon to have days with high temperatures in the single digits with wind chills in the negative numbers. So I did all my running inside on the hamster wheel while watching...the Food Network. Yes, I know how bizarre that must sound.

Beginning in the warm weather months though (that would be oh, what, June here?) I began to run outside. It was much different than running on my treadmill. In the beginning it was harder, it hurt my feet, and running the same amount of miles outside that I'd been running inside on my treadmill seemed to be twice as difficult. But I became used to it, and now I love running outside. It's refreshing. The scenery changes. There is sometimes a nice breeze to cool me off. However, I've developed some serious gripes with the outside world as a result of entering it as a runner. Here they are in no particular order:

1. Walkers who occupy the entire sidewalk. Now, I take walks too, in addition to running. And I'm not always aware of a runner coming up behind me. We can be a stealthy bunch. But when I see one coming toward me (or a biker, rollerblader, or a fellow runner) I move to one side of the sidewalk so they can pass on the other, without having to move onto someone's grass or onto the road. However, in running my normal route, I've found this courteous behavior rare. I've often had to run off the sidewalk because a walker refuses to move to one side to let me pass. It can screw up my pace and my breathing, and damn it, it's rude! We're both entitled to the sidewalk, right?

2. Drivers who place their cars in the crosswalks while stopped at a busy intersection. I must admit, prior to running outside, I did this all the time without even thinking about the implications for runners, walkers, bikers, and the like. But now, I'm accutely aware of how dangerous this is, as I frequently have to run around these cars, and often very close to the traffic moving in the opposite direction. Especially irksome are those who watch me run past, and even without another car behind them, refuse to back up theirs cars a bit.

3. Cars blocking the sidewalks. I realize that sometimes this can't be avoided, such as when one has a party and the driveway is already packed (although I think this still might be illegal. Does anyone know?). But when a parked car is blocking the sidewalk, and there is plenty of room for it in the driveway, it irks me to no end. Pull forward!!

4. Fellow joggers yanking poor, panting dogs behind them. Now, I think it's great that people take their dogs out for a run with them. Lots of people don't exercise their dogs at all. But there comes a point when I think this behavior becomes obviously abusive to the animal. Perhaps Misty shouldn't run seven miles in 85 degree weather, with high humidity levels. I think her desperate panting and the fact that she's barely keeping pace behind you should give you a clue. Short runs in hot weather-fine. But keep your dog safe at home with her water bowl when you're running a 10k.

5. Large objects on the sidewalks. Grass clippings, leaves, even the occasional branch-all okay. Rakes, bags of garbage, sinks, bikes, etc.-not okay. Do people not understand how dangerous this can be, not just to runners, but to bikeriders, rollerbladers, and all others who engage in activities at a quick rate of speed on the sidewalks?

I'm stepping off my soapbox now. Ahhh... that was a cathartic experience. I feel a lot better now.

4 Responses to “Runner Gripes”

  1. # Blogger Marie

    The obstacles bother me as a walker! And when I walk with my husband, he walks in the street (on side streets) even though we have sidewalks in our neighborhood -- fewer obstacles in the street!

    I'm sure I do the cross-walk thing as a driver... oops! I'll have to watch out for that!  

  2. # Blogger Kross-Eyed Kitty

    Hmmm. Maybe I should get a treadmill this winter. It sounds like that was the secret to your sucess. I figure, I'm already halfway there...I love the food channel too. It's my favourite channel to watch before bedtime, and also on Saturday mornings.  

  3. # Blogger Michael Manning

    Hi: Here via Michele. You write well and I enjoyed reading a fellow runner. Due to surgeries from years of distance running, I became a power-walker and those cars that almost run you over, or block sidewalks are terrible. I've always had a hard time on treadmills due to the monotony. I prefer the outdoors where there is stimulating scenery. I will link you. Cheers!  

  4. # Blogger Kristi

    Marie-I totally understand why people walk in the street now. It may not be safer, but at least there's no need to navigate around all sorts of obstacles. And I did the cross-walk thing for years, so you're now alone there!

    Kross-Eyed: Yup-the treadmill got me started. And there's no excuse not to use it if it's -20 degrees outside!

    Michael-Thanks for stopping by and for blog-rolling me. I'm with you-I much prefer running outside now, although this wasn't always the case. I'm off to check out your blog.  

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