Yesterday afternoon, as I ran down the street, I saw a young guy in his late teens/early-20’s approaching me on the sidewalk going the opposite direction. I expected a variety of interactions, ranging from nonchalance (i.e., ignoring each other) to a brief “Hi, how ya doin’.” What I did not expect was for this guy to start mocking me. He swung his arms high and said in a high-pitched voice something about running. (I couldn’t make out what he was saying. It was probably stupid anyway.) I shot him a dirty look and told him to get lost, more or less. He continued to mock me as he “ran” past me. I turned around and shot him the bird as I ran off. “What a jerkface!” I thought to myself.

Then I started thinking about some of the random anti-running sentiment that I’ve seen lately. True, the creep I ran into yesterday probably would’ve mocked me for whatever I was doing, even if I was just walking down the street in normal clothes, but it’s disturbing to me how many people seem to hate runners. I never really picked up on this until recently. Sure, there’s a lot of indifference and apathy towards running — I get that. But, especially in the controversy surrounding the NYC Marathon, the ugly truth came out: people hate runners. Suddenly, anyone who dared to show up for the NYCM was deemed “selfish” and “unfeeling.” Runners were said to only cared about “running around in their underwear” through the five boroughs of NYC. (BTW, those are actual quotes from people interviewed by the New York Times.)

The thing is, I understand why they canceled the NYCM, and I think it was a good choice. Still, it disturbs me that some people don’t get that it was disappointing for the would-be marathoners to devote so much time, energy (physical and mental), and resources toward the NYCM, only to have it cancelled. I know that it doesn’t compare to the devastation that Hurricane Sandy has caused, but this is not about comparisons. It’s about painting a group of people as villains, for no reason other than because they are easy targets. Why weren’t tourists or the people attending NBA and NFL games demonized? How many of those people devoted time to help Sandy victims, like the runners who flew in from all over the country and the world?

I was talking to the Gypsy Runner about this last night. I asked him why people hate runners. He replied that some people think running is pointless. Well, maybe so, but it isn’t hurting anyone. I could see that major road races are a disturbance and create a lot of waste, but the actual act of running? Why would anyone hate that?

Anyway, this was just a rant I had in my head and I felt the need to get it out. Thanks for listening.


Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

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19 comments on “Haters
  1. Amy says:

    I think in New York, the hatred was overwhelmingly displaced anger. I think if you asked most of those people what they thought of runners a week before, the response would have been significantly less passionate.

    I guess I’m lucky that I’ve never had anyone say anything negative to me over running (maybe I’m super intimidating and they fear that I’ll punch them in the face???), but I do hear a lot of annoyance over race day disturbances (understandable). Next time, invite the dude along for a run, and then put him to shame when he can’t keep up!

  2. Dominick S. says:

    Welp, I am back…and my blog post will touch on this. It is extremely frustrating and I really do not understand it. I guess I will just say that the past week has highlighted the amount of ugliness in out country and that people love to express anger more than anything else. Haters gonna hate for sure!

  3. aewills says:

    Argh, that sucks! Particularly because a moment of negativity like that takes a big bite out of your concentration and enjoyment of your run.
    I know there will always be a few people who perceive others’ running as somehow directed at them: either in a positive-but-annoying way (those folks who feel they have to shout encouragements at you) or negative (maybe because you’re reminding them that they ought to get more exercise and they think you’re subtly gloating about it? Or they remember one time a road was closed for a race and they were mildly inconvenienced?). At these times I try to remember and be thankful that the community of runners is a friendly and respectful bunch that’s getting bigger all the time, and the support I get from being a member of that community vastly outweighs the occasional detractor…and then I repeat this quietly to myself a dozen times while I think of all the things I wish I’d said to the jerk who mocked me :).

    • Jen says:

      I know how you feel! I am so bad/slow at coming up with snappy comebacks.
      You’re right about the ever-growing community of runners who are, for the most part, positive. I guess that’s why incidents like this are so jarring — it bursts my little happy runner bubble.

  4. Cathryn says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen or felt any hate towards runners, this surprises me. There’s always the odd nut-case who would mock no matter whatever you were doing. And the running-hate backlash at the moment is definitely due to NYC and will hopefully blow over. In the UK, there is a LOT of hatred towards cyclists. Cyclists are often poor road sharers – they jump red lights, weave in traffic etc, they don’t always help themselves. But the UK has been vitriolic towards cyclists. That is changing and I’m so glad. But hatred towards runners, here or there, I’ve never seen. Maybe he was just having a bad day!

    • Jen says:

      Yeah, there are definitely anti-cyclist feelings in SF too. I can sort of understand that sentiment, when there’s a few rotten apples who break the rules and make things harder (and more dangerous) for everyone else. But as for running, I just don’t get where the hatred comes from. I think in the States, there’s a tendency for people to project their lack of self-respect onto other people. However, in this particular case, I definitely think he was a dweeb who would’ve made fun of me no matter what.

  5. bt says:

    I’ve definitely experienced negative responses when I’ve spoken of running in a non-running crowd. It’s happened enough times that I consciously try to avoid discussing running in social situations unless I’m certain the person/people I’m speaking with is/are interested in it as a topic. For whatever reason, there’s a subset of folks who think that one person’s choice to run (or not watch TV, train for triathlons, homeschool their kids, etc.) is somehow reflective on them and their choices in the opposite direction and in response to this perceived “insult” they become defensive or combative. It’s very strange to me.

    • Jen says:

      I totally agree! I’ve also encountered this when I’ve told people about my graduate degree. Some people get very defensive and say things like, “Well, I’ve always wanted to go back to grad school too, but I just never had the time/money/resources.” It’s gotten to the point where I try to avoid talking about these topics altogether.

  6. Roserunner says:

    Very similar sentiment to my last post…I think people think runners are freaks. When 1 mile sounds impossible to you, people who choose to run 20 are insane.

    I’ve seen a lot of people fake run at me when I run by, swinging their arms or what not. Usually they are trying to be playful, not mean, but I’m usually annoyed nonetheless…

    • Jen says:

      That’s a good point (about people thinking that runners are freaks). I’d be SO annoyed at people fake running at me, even if they were being playful. I wonder if you get that a lot because you’re so fast… people are so jealous!

  7. Hey! I just found your blog and found this to be such an interesting post.
    Wow! I can’t believe that guy, first of all. That’s quite ridiculous. I haven’t run into any type of issues when out running, so I think I’m a bit in the dark on why people dislike runners. I DO agree with everything you said about NYCM.

    I hope you never have to bump into rude people in the future!

  8. Nicole says:

    I haven’t had anyone on the street harass me about my running specifically, I’ve often had people shout things out of cars at me (especially when I lived in the suburbs). “Run Forrest” continues to be a favorite, even after all these years.

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On the docket…

4/28/19: London Marathon

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