I’ve had many comments, beeps and stares while jogging through my neighborhood and around the world. I listen to my audiobooks and don’t really pay attention except for my relation to the traffic and drivers. Safety first. I rarely let the outside world ruffle my feathers. Except for twice, and today was one of those days.
I run in the street, on the side against traffic so I can jump out-of-the-way if a driver isn’t paying attention while texting or talking on the phone. Why do I run in the road and not the sidewalk? As any runner knows, cement is the worst surface to run on since it doesn’t give way it ultimately has a negative effect on the knees and other parts of the body. Asphalt is a little better and dirt and sand is the best for preserving cartilage and joints.
Running in the road tends to make people angry and cause road rage. Oh no, what should I do! How about nothing. I take up a few feet of property and if the oncoming driver just stays cool, then all is kosher. Sometimes I’ll jump on the grass lining the road if I happen to glance into the face of the disturbed driver, but other times I just stay on the white line, or just to the left of it. Some people purposely give me lots of room. It’s a nice gesture and I’ll give a cursory wave, but it’s not necessary. On the other end of the spectrum is someone yelling at me or flipping me off. A driver did both today. The anger, the flipping the bird. I laughed and decided to raise my finger in return as I kept running. She was a rather large woman and I wondered if she was outraged because I was in the street exercising as she shoved a jelly donut into her mouth. I half expected her to back-up and try to run me over because that’s what happened a few months ago when a similar scenario occurred during my morning jog.
In that incident I was running through a neighborhood that had wide roads and no sidewalk. The furious redneck in the truck started yelling at me to “get out of the road.”
In return I raised my finger as he glanced in his rearview mirror. This really pissed him off as he threw his truck in reverse and tried to run me over. I jumped into a stranger’s yard and started yelling back at him. “Why do you have a problem with me running in the road. What. We can’t share the road, or do you have a bigger problem?” I half expected him to pull out a shotgun so I stepped back.
A young woman with her baby in a stroller witnessed the exchange from a half block away. I glanced at her in amazement as she looked at me with concern for my life and her’s. Thank God for a witness, I thought as I continued to shout back at the plump man while gaining courage to approach his truck. “You’re obviously not a runner,” shot out of my mouth. He screamed something back and peeled out of the neighborhood. I glimpsed at the witness again. She shrugged as I continued on.
As Americans have we grown so intolerant of one another that we can’t share the road and give way? In many countries a gym or treadmill isn’t an option and exercise is performed outside. Some of the best runners from Kenya run barefoot in the roads and mountains of their homeland. I bet they don’t get yelled at or run over. I’ll continue to share the road if you will.