For some reason when I’m running with headphones, people I pass try to talk to me despite my inability to hear them clearly. I hate to be rude and miss what they’ve said, so I generally take out an earbud and ask, “Pardon?” It’s already slightly annoying that this even happens (that’s a blog post for another day), but when they repeat themselves and it turns out to be an off-putting comment – why? Why is it that people feel the need to be “funny” by saying discouraging or contrary things to another person? If someone’s busting their ass doing something that takes effort, hard work, and/or motivation, is joking about their activity really the best way to proceed?
“That looks like too much work!”
“Slow down! You’re making us look bad!”
“I wish I could run! I’m jealous!”
I know it is, on some level, with the best intentions and I certainly don’t take it personally. I’ve just never run into this sort of behavior outside of a women’s locker room (“I’m so fat!”). I truly didn’t know how to respond. Should I politely defend what I’m doing? Should I try to make them feel better about not doing what I’m doing? Do I laugh it off? I’ve done the latter thus far. However, what I was thinking while I casually laughed was more along the lines of…
- It obviously isn’t too much work. I’m not an athlete, and don’t look the part. I’m short, chubby, and slow. It doesn’t matter so long as I hit the pavement. Why would you think insulting someone’s hobby or goal progress as “too much work” is a compliment? All you’re accomplishing is making yourself sound lazy, and making me feel like I shouldn’t bother. It is work, but it certainly isn’t too much.
- No, you’re making you look bad. I’m not judging you for not hitting the pavement. It isn’t for everyone. You can be healthy and happy in many other facets of your life. But telling me that I’m making you look bad, whether jokingly or not, is meant to make me guilty for your laziness. I’m not going to apologize, even jokingly, for my workout.
- This isn’t really even funny. I do sympathize and would be happy to talk about this another time. However, hearing this only seems to make me feel sorry for your injury or feel guilty for my activity. As I continue on dripping with sweat, red-faced and just trying to finish my run, I’ll feel like a jerk for not having asked what was wrong and offering an “I wish you a fast recovery!”. I don’t need your problem dropped on me in the middle of my run.
If you insist on interrupting someone during their run, especially if they pull out their headphones to hear what you have to say, please give quick words of encouragement. Here are a few suggestions of things I’d love to hear during my run:
“Keep it up!”
“You look great!”
“How far are you going?”
“You got this!”
Above all, I’d much prefer an unobtrusive smile, wave, or thumbs up!