Excuse Me, Sir, but I’m Running Up Behind You and About to Scare You Out of Your Headphones
Guest Blogger Eric Jorgensen
That moment on your run when you’re approaching someone from behind who doesn’t hear you coming: “Here we go again.” I typically become very awkward in this situation.
I don’t know what it is about running, but it often colors me shy.
I live near rural trails and roads and could avoid human contact when I choose. However, I’ve seen Deliverance, 127 Hours, and recently the trailer for The Grey, and now irrational fear oozes from my wide-open eyes when I venture off the beaten path. So, I tend to run in the city.
This brings me back to my approaching conundrum: I’m running on a sidewalk and this guy in front of me doesn’t hear my footsteps. I’m betting he won’t see me until I pass into his peripheral vision, at which point he should jump wildly and gasp. That is the reaction 50 percent of the time. Sometimes they don’t react at all; I’d say 45 percent of the time. But there’s five percent who scare me. Their initial reaction to being startled is self-defense.
If you’re like me, it’s with these people in mind I start acting very strange. I give a little cough for starters, which escalates into a grunt, and then to foot stomping. At this point I’ve made up my mind to pretty much run a circle around them. I stomp and parade and look and feel like a fool.
The moment of truth… I run past them, and as I assumed, they react like a cat hearing a crashing noise. Sorry, dude.
It’s not just this moment when I become an awkward teenager asking a girl out for the first time. Have you ever waited at an intersection, and then been waved across by a driver in a car? Have you then run with a form you’ve never in your life used before? When presented with this situation, I tend to put my chin into my chest, bunch my shoulders, and then prance like a show pony across the road as I give a tiny wave of gratitude to the driver. I mean, running normal would look out place, right?
Seriously, I cannot act normal when I run. It’s during runs I think about those hilarious moments that are only funny to me, so I start randomly laughing, much to the curiosity and judgmental looks of bystanders. I also have to pee, like, nonstop.
I hate when I see a runner on my path who is much faster than me. Here’s the thing: I’m a decent runner, but I’m not that great, so there are plenty of these faster runner types. When I see them, I become very competitive and try to keep pace. This is a mistake from which I never learn.
My friends have an inside joke about me. I always say that my first rule of running is, “Sprint the finish.” They say it’s, “Sprint by girls.” I literally cannot stop myself. I could have been running for hours, but if I’m approaching a female, my legs instinctively and independently from my mind decide to speed up, because out-of-breath, sweaty men sprinting through random parts of town impress women, obviously. I hate running where there are lots of women, because I can never catch my breath.
Take everything I’ve told you, now imagine what I look like running a marathon. I’m all over the place—totally unpredictable. During last year’s San Francisco Marathon, I stopped for two restroom breaks, laughed it up with my running buddy, trotted like a fool in front of cars, and, after accidentally injuring my knee, still sped up when I saw a group of girls with signs cheering for us runners. After all that, I still loved the race.
Even if you’re awkward like me, please don’t let that stop you from running. It’s great practice in becoming less self-conscious.
Eric Jorgensen is a magazine editor and blogger from the Kansas City-metro area. He once had a Coca-Cola commercial made about him for being one of the craziest college basketball fans in the country, which he still is (Rock Chalk). He has run a road race in full hipster garb, and has yet to drown during a triathlon. His first marathon was the 2011 San Francisco Marathon, which he live-Tweeted. Friend him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.