My Outdoor Running Practice Is Not An Invitation To…..

Outdoor running brings all the creeps and weirdos out of the woodwork.

Photo by Jenny Hill on Unsplash

Introduction

Running. One of the cheapest and most economical ways of keeping yourself fit, healthy, and happy. A daily running habit not only improves focus, concentration, and memory, but also strengthens muscles, improves cardiovascular fitness, and helps you feel much younger than you actually are. Unlike other disciplines, you don’t require expensive gear or pricey gadgets to go running. And unless you’re one of those competitive marathoner types, or a recreational runner who commutes to the mountains every week to do a trail marathon, running really doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket like other sports do.

However, due to it’s inexpensive and free nature of being outdoors negating the need for any expensive equipment, runners tend to “pay the price” in other less favourable ways. After all, when one practices a sport that opens them up to the spectatorship of the entire world, one also needs to deal with the downsides of being in that world.

Here are some of the ways in which outdoor running opens you up to the condescension and criticism of the world:

Comment on what I’ve worn

If you’ve worn a singlet, a pair of running shorts, or any kind of minimalist running attire, be prepared for stares, leers, and body shaming comments from commuters and other people sharing the trail with you. Regular runners in India have gotten so used to this class of idiots that they just ignore them altogether and shrug them off their shoulders like specks of dandruff. However, regardless of where you live, if you find yourself running in a new locality, be prepared for an intrusive line of questioning about where you’re from and why you’re wearing such “revealing” attire.

Oh and by the way did I forget to mention? I was talking about both genders in the above instance. Men as well as women runners face lots of harassment as well as moral policing while out on a run, particularly in secluded running trails surrounding lakes and city parks which are far away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Somehow, that’s also where all the weirdos come to hang out. Strange!

For women, the risks they face running on secluded trails are so innumerous, I could probably write an entire article on it with all the points fully covered. So let’s not even go there.

Ask me to fetch the ball

One of the worst things you can do as a runner in India is to run near a playground where a group of youngsters might be engrossed in a game of cricket. You’ll be asked to stop your running and fetch the ball whenever it crosses the boundary line, gets out of the field and happens to be rolling in your direction. You’re basically the undesignated fielder for the bowling team. They don’t care if you’re training for an upcoming marathon with an LSD, doing interval training, or are just on your daily morning routine run. They WILL ask you to fetch the ball if it happens to be rolling towards you or anywhere near you. They’ll be so engrossed in the game, they can’t look at it from an outsiders perspective and realize the stupidity of their actions.

This happens even if you happen to be running around a football field. The sport doesn’t matter. It’s the mentality of the people that does.

Advice me on my running form

I’ve got this once only in my life, but it’s scarred me nonetheless. An elderly person who wasn’t even a runner, came around on his motorcycle when he saw me running in his colony park and had the gall to ask me to increase my arm swing and improve my running form.

Yes, that’s right! An elderly fella who was probably heading home from work that evening thought it better to give someone less than half his age unsolicited advice on a sport he has absolutely no experience with.

How do you like that?

Come and chat with me

This is the one that happens most often and is the biggest hindrance to a placid and relaxing run.

You dare not run in the same locality where you know your friends will be out and about. Because they can and will stop you to have a chat. Even if you tell them you’re busy on your run, they’ll shrug it off their shoulders like it’s nothing and continue having the chat with you. Even worse, they’ll be so brazenly stupid to ask, “okay so what’s the harm in stopping to chat with me for a few minutes?, you’ll get a break as well”.

Friends, colleagues, relatives, and sometimes even fellow runners will feel the need to stop you right in your tracks in the middle of your training and socialize with you. As runners, this really gets on our nerves as it interrupts our training for the day and we’re forced to start all over again.

You would never run into the middle of a cricket pitch to have a casual conversation or socialize with your friends if you saw them playing.

You wouldn’t dare walk up to someone you know on a football field and interrupt them to have a friendly chat.

Then why the partial treatment towards runners? Just because we’re on the sidewalks and roads within an arms reach of you?

Chat me up about marathons and races /ask me for directions

Akin to the strangers from the first category, random people, particularly middle aged ones feel the need to talk to you about all things running WHILE you’re running.

“Training for a marathon, huh?”, they’ll ask you. And then they’ll proceed to extend that conversation until it’s totally ruined your training plan for the day.

These people don’t give two hoots about who you are and what you do otherwise. Only because they’ve seen you running, you’re all of a sudden a person of interest to them. They really don’t care that you’re on a training plan and shouldn’t be disturbed, or even have a strict timing cut-off to follow. If you’re someone who’s not from their particular locality and find yourself running there only for that day, be prepared to answer a ton of questions on why you’re running and give them a long introduction to racing and marathons. Besides the marathon-curious, tourists and people who have newly settled in the city will also intrude on your run to ask you for directions and help them with city information.

Never mind that your entire weekend LSD plan is now ruined.

Conclusion

Whether it’s harassing you on a trail, asking you to fetch the ball, or disturbing you for a casual chat while you’re out on a training run, the number of hindrances to quiet, solitudinous, uninterrupted run from the general public are so damn high that many people give up running on public sidewalks roads and parks altogether and resort to running only on trails that are familiar to them.

What are some hindrances you’ve faced while running out in public?

Let me know in the comments bar to the side.

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Caffeinated Thoughts

I am an avid trekker, content writer, photographer and sports enthusiast. I write about trekking, society, overpopulation, lifestyle and veganism in general.