I’ve had three people either try to run me over or inconvenience me in some way while I ran in my neighborhood one evening last week. I couldn’t really tell if they were all doing it on purpose, but in at least one case, someone in their car literally pulled it forward as I was running on the sidewalk at night so I had to run into the street, and after I passed them, they pulled back up and kept the sidewalk clear. They stared me down the whole time. That was pretty blatant and uncalled for. The others? Maybe they didn’t see me or maybe there was no malice behind their actions.
At least once a week, I experience some sort of weird action or look from people as I run by. I normally get waves, smiles, and kids running next to me for 10 yards or so. Those are the nice interactions. Then there are the others. The looks I get from people who possibly think that the only reason I’m out running is to make them feel bad that they aren’t. Because of course, I only do this to make people feel badly about themselves.
I’ve had diesel pickup trucks “Smoke” me as they drive past, and people on sidewalks give me dirty looks. I’ve had people stop what they were doing and watch me as if I were some sort of oddity or criminal running past.
I find it sad, really. When I was my most outspoken about not liking exercise, I never went out of my way to inconvenience those who were exercising. Heck, I always gave runners and cyclists thumbs-up. They’re doing the work, and I always recognized that. Even if I didn’t want to do it, and even if it was a reminder to me of my own lack of motivation to get moving, I never put that on them. I put that on myself.
Trust me: I’m not out there flaunting my fitness. To do so would be a joke; I’m not that fast of a runner, nor am I in perfect shape. I’m in good shape, but I have a long way to go before I would say that I’m really fit. What I’m doing is the work necessary to get fit. I’m doing this for me, not to make anyone else feel bad for any reason.
I also hear people every once in a while make comments about me at the mall or in a store. “Well, doesn’t that skinny guy think he’s special wearing a suit jacket?” “Who does that skinny guy think he is, all dressed fancy and stuff?” “That guy needs to eat a sandwich.” Okay, the last one made me laugh when it happened (and actually, I’m laughing now) because I’m really not thin. Not even a little bit. I’m still just average. But really? Because I’m no longer fat and dress nicely it’s okay to be rude?
I expected fat shaming and being made fun of when I was heavy. I never expected it for being fit or working on getting fit. That surprised me.