The people you meet when you run

My husband and I go running together several times a week. We’re not fast and we’re not agile, but we do keep going. Over the years, we’ve come to recognize the various people you meet when you run. They’re not always the exact same people, but there are a few familiar types:

Don’t Worry, He’s Harmless

This is an earnest dog lover who has to shout above the sound of her slavering, snarling ragebeast who is expressing his harmlessness by opening his mouth so wide, you can see inside his tail. Don’t worry! Why would we worry! Why should you even consider putting such an animal on a leash, when really it’s the rest of the world that is being silly and mean by worrying! Coincidentally, on days when we meet Don’t Worry He’s Harmless, we always make the best time.

O to be young!

A deeply tanned, deeply wrinkled woman in baggy jeans and a sassy t-shirt who spends her mornings toddling through the dappled sunlight, beaming at trees. When she comes within hailing distance, she stops, throws her head back and her arms out, and croaks, “O to be young!” Then stands there with her mouth open and an expectant smile on her face. I have no idea what to say to this, so I usually say, “Oh ho ho, ha ha!” and keep running. One time she didn’t say it, and I felt so old…

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10 thoughts on “The people you meet when you run”

  1. Puppies and younger dogs are sure that joggers are running for nefarious reasons. My dog used to sneak up behind joggers and sniff the backs of their knees. Dogs know stuff just by whiffing.

    We have a place now on a nature preserve with a dog park directly across a pretty inlet of the SF bay. There are beautiful trails open to the public and plenty of joggers. I have learned that my dog is just fine off leash up until we are about 200 feet from our home–then she feels like she needs to defend me against those obvious felons that must be running to or from some bad behavior. Why else do they look so serious? That’s when the leash clicks on.

    I have chatted with more human beings that are complete strangers in the time I’ve had my dog than my entire life on this planet. People are uncontrollably attracted to her. I keep her hair long and combed. She sits in the back seat of my car like a human, (legs dangling over the edge). She does the same thing on park benches when I’m sipping my coffee,but she leans into me with adoration. I guy once yelled “get a room!” at us, but it was good natured. In the winter, when she wears her puffer vest with the faux fur lined hood pulled up around her head she stops traffic. People lose their sh*t.

    Do I need to confess this? Dog lovers used to appall me. I remember thinking my friend from college was an idiot for sobbing over the death of her dog. I must have been a hard hearted creep.

  2. I’ve noticed while biking the local trails that there are a variety of people at all different fitness levels out and about – and I LOVE it!

    My one note is that many people seem to put on cologne or perfume to go biking / running / walking, and I’m always appreciative because they always smell so nice as I pass them (or they pass me). And then I feel like I need to send them a mental apology for what they must whiff as they pass ME: a blended fragrance dominated by sweat with undertones of B.O., which just a hint of a clean laundry smell.

  3. I used to jog in a park that had a nice 1 mile running track (this was before I realized that running exclusively on blacktop was murder on my arches), and there was often–no, inevitably–somebody who had their dumb dog off the leash. I developed a wide range of responses for the various dog owners I met:

    For those who chirped, “Don’t worry, he’s friendly!” as their demon hound ran at me, tail falsely wagging, I would snarl, “I’m NOT.” If the owner was a woman, she usually gulped and quickly ran to protect her precious pooch. Men narrowed their eyes and decided it was too early/hot to get into a wrangle(NB: this response also worked for those who claimed “He’s harmless!”.

    For the burly man who hollered from a safe distance, “He’s never bitten anyone!”, I would yell back, “YET! He hasn’t bitten anyone YET!” as I did a hairpin turn and outran Fido.

    I have never figured out why dog owners got so offended when I would go out of my way to avoid crossing their paths. Surely they don’t enjoy having their arms pulled out of their sockets when their dog lunges at me as I jog by?

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