Drive-by mockery

Let’s pretend you’re a teenager lad driving a car filled with fellow teenage lads. You spy a runner, innocently running along the pavement. What do you do?

The standard options are:

a) Pay no heed and drive on.

b) Wind down the window and yell something idiotic.

I think it depends on your personal level of loutishness? Back when I started Proper Exercise twelve years ago, the main answer was a) but a good dozen times I encountered b).

I’d be lumbering along, listening to the rat-a-tat of my heart, when a small car with a very large and noisy exhaust would cruise by. Next came the beeping horn and shouting of insults pertaining to my weight.

At first I confess I was not a tough cookie! I’d wither inside, instantly transported back to my awkward high school state. I soon adopted a Vampire Walking schedule to avoid human contact. But with time I got brave and focused and could laugh it off.

Recently I discovered that there is an option c). It’s a new and far more sophisticated technique.

I was power-walking along the other day, absorbed in a podcast, when I saw a car out of the corner of my eye. As it approached I could see the people inside were waving wildly and enthusiastically at me.

I did what I am conditioned to do when someone waves at you: I waved back with equal enthusiasm!

Then, the split second processing of the event:

How nice to get some encouragement! Is that my neighbour?

It was a carful of teenage boys. That I did not know at all.

I felt like a total goose. Those rotters got me good!

I heard the mocking hur hur hur hur of their laughter as they sped away.

And then a few days later… a different walk, a different car… I fell for it again!

I still get the giggles thinking about it. And it happened during the same week of our 5K Beginners Course where we’re encouraging our dear runners to be bold and brave about getting outside for exercise. Nobody is paying attention to you when you run, says the good Coach Julia.

99% of the time she’s right. Everyone’s too absorbed in their day to pay any attention to me plonking along. But sometimes… those boys. They’re a good test to make sure I practice what we preach!

Ship of Fools, Car of IdiotsShip of Fools, Car of Idiots

Image from but obv. by Gary Larson.

  1. Jilanna
    I say keep waving back with equal enthusiasm! I was worried for awhile that occasional honks were from "cars of idiots" but then someone said that they assume they're other runners cheering them on. Now I just wave and carry on.
  2. Helen
    Flash 'em your boobs!
  3. Bella
    Ah, I often get honks, thumbs up and unintelligible shouts. It's stopped worrying me - I also choose to take it as encouragement, and run secure in my smug knowledge that even if it wasn't encouragement, they'll be pounding the pavement with their big beer guts in 20 years anyway, bring jeered at by the next generation. Karma shall come full circle eventually :)
  4. Jo
    I got my very first "Run Forrest, Run!" hollered at me last week, by a couple of boys on bicycles hanging around the local takeaway store. I didn't react, except for an eye-roll that they didn't see - but I did take pleasure in the same sort of thinking that Bella describes about their potential future! Quite a while back I had a couple of teenage boys on foot jeering at me in a park and found the best response was a cheery "Gee thanks guys!" as though I had believed their words to be true 'encouragement' instead of a sarcastic put-down. I think deliberate misunderstanding of their intent is the best way to deal with the idiots - after all, it's not really their fault that they don't know exactly how awesome we are ;)
  5. Jen
    This is exactly why I do almost all my running in parks -- no cars of idiots. Anyone there is on foot like me. I bet you waving back confused them a bit, at least. To be honest, I have felt threatened at times when I run, so I stick to well-traveled places. Be safe out there!
  6. Julia
    I once gave the finger energetically to a car load of people waving at me while I was running. Turned out to be a colleague of my husband with his family! Now I just wave to everybody and smile, whether they happen to be teens or not :-) Their problem, not mine. Julia
  7. Gill Bland
    As I run along canals a lot I don't get cars, but I do get walkers and canal-path-drinkers shouting "run faster" and equally useful things at me. My favourite moment was when I'd forgotten my headphones so had my iphone on speaker setting and just after one of these comedy encouragements my phone announced "22miles completed". That shut them up :)
  8. Anna
    When I lived in Brighton I'd often get pig and cow noises made at me as I huffed and puffed along the seafront. What is wrong with some people?!? Now I live in a small town, but I'm still pretty paranoid about going out and letting people see me exercise in broad daylight. :(