Photo: FotoFling Scotland
Remember last week, when I was all "why should I whine about healthy eating and exercise, when it's all so much fun?"
Well, seriously, how long did you think that would last? Anyway, it's back to more whining, and this time it's a weird one. But bear with me, perhaps another unexpected bout of cheerfulness will break out again soon!
So one of the great things about summer weather, at least if you don't live somewhere scorching hot, is that you get more chances to abandon the gym and go outdoors. Instead of logging dreary imaginary miles on a treadmill, you can run or walk actual physical miles on a trail or path. It feels great to have that tangible feeling of getting somewhere as you exercise!
Whereas if you and your elliptical machine are managing to get very far across the floor of the gym? You are probably doing something wrong.
But here's the thing: say you are outside running, walking, biking, skating, skiing, or pogo-sticking. What if you discover that you are not alone, and there is another person traveling the same portion of the same route, in the same direction, at the same time?
Either you both need to go the exact same speed, to maintain separation, or the faster person is going to have to overtake the slower person.
If there is enough space, this is not a huge problem.
However, in many locations, such as narrow trails or congested paths, some co-operation may be required between the Passer and the Passee. Particularly if either travels in groups. Being a cranky misanthrope, I sometimes have issues with how the whole passing thing plays out.
I Have Opinions About Everything
This includes how fast I travel. I don't want to have speed up to keep from being in someone's way, nor do I want to get caught behind someone meandering along when I'm in a hurry to get somewhere or am trying to keep my heart-rate up.
So "adjusting my pace" ain't gonna happen. If there is someone else going my direction on the road, trail, or bike path, some sort of passing is going to take place.
Nothing Personal, But Get The Hell Away From Me!
Combined with my go-my-own-speed stubbornness is another trait which makes the passing thing such an issue: I hate to share my personal space with strangers, no matter how nice these strangers might be.
I am happy to smile and wave and comment on the weather or the scenery; I even like these friendly interactions. But I do not want to travel alongside, right behind, or right in front of other folks. I do not want to hear their observations or smell their cologne or stare at their lycra-clad asses. Ideally, the Passer(s) should speed up during the passing process, and the Passee(s) should make way and perhaps slow down a bit until optimal separation is again achieved.
And because I find this process awkward, if I am hiking and there is someone coming up behind me and getting closer and closer, I am hyper-aware of it. If I hear voices, or the crunch crunch crunch of footsteps behind me, I want nothing more than to squeeze off to the side and let folks by.
The poor Lobster, who is not as hypersensitive about personal space when hiking, has been many times interrupted in the midst of a perfectly pleasant conversation by my alarmed cries of "there's someone behind us, let's move over!" As though hiking trails were entirely populated by serial killers, zombies, and life insurance salesmen, requiring constant vigilance to avoid any dangerous or costly interactions.
Likewise, if we are hiking and come up on a person or a group ahead of us, and there's no room to skooch around unless they move over, I immediately start worrying about whether they'll let us pass. Also, being shy, I dislike making confrontational announcements. And I know, to say: "Excuse me! Can we get by?" might not seem confrontational to a normal person. But to me it feels exactly like I'm bellowing "Hey You Lazy-Asses, We're Comin' Through, Get the F*ck Outta Our Way!" I tend to use this technique only as a last resort.
So anyway, in my mind, here the top trail "offenders":
The Inexcusably Oblivious
The most common trail-blocking phenomenon happens when a single person or a group is taking the entire width of a trail or bike lane or whatever, unaware that there is someone behind them who wants to pass. Now if it's a totally remote location where company is not expected, this behavior is completely excusable, and therefore, not irritating.
However, if it's a heavily used route, and a group spreads itself out across all the available space, then it is my opinion that they should be vigilant about faster runners or hikers or bikers coming up from behind, and when hearing approaching voices and shuffling feet, should take the initiative to move over!
The Stubbornly Obstructive
These are even worse. They hear you coming, look around to confirm that you are approaching, and then refuse to move over, figuring you can just wait until they're ready to take a break to get by.
In this case, I will abandon shyness and bark out the icky: "Excuse Me!"
The Laid-Back Parents and the Hyperactive Kids
It's so wholesome and adorable when family groups take to the hiking trails! Except when the parents allow their exuberant children to run freely ahead, "racing" the hikers ahead of them and crowding past, then turning right back around and returning to their parents, then racing past again, then returning, over and over and over again. Sure, eventually they tire of this game, but in the meantime they are learning this valuable lesson from their parents: "You do not need to worry about whether you might be irritating other people with your behavior or not. Other people do not matter!"
The Overly Competitive
So I'm going to be sexist here and overgeneralize: this seems to be mainly a male phenomenon.
Some men hate to be passed by anyone, but especially by women. They will speed up to avoid it, even if they have to struggle to maintain their new, faster pace.
Which would be fine--go ahead and have a heart attack if your ego is that important to you--except that often they will forget after a while and slow back down. And then you have to clear your throat and cough to prompt them to speed up, or you have to pass them again, knowing that this will just incite them to pass you again in return.
Dudes: if you're getting passed by people, male or female, who come up from behind it probably means they are faster than you. However hard this may be to deal with, how about just take a deep breath and get over it?
No can do? Well, if you are a male runner and it is truly important to you to pretend women can't run faster than you, here's an idea: employ the Emergency Windsprint Fake-Out Maneuver.
1. On discovering that a Girl is about to pass you, pick up the pace and break into an all out sprint, as though you'd been doing an interval workout and your real running speed was just your "recovery" pace.
2. Continue sprinting past the Girl for as far as you can until you are almost ready to throw up. (But stop short of actual barfing as this move is not all that impressive.)
3. Check your watch and act like "oh whoops, look at the time-- guess that's it for today!" even if you just started your run. Walk around and do a quad stretch or something to drive the point home as the Girl runs by.
4. Once she's out of sight, jog at your own pace back to your starting point and finish your run in the opposite direction. Think about doing some intervals For Real next time.
5. Repeat every time a woman attempts to pass you until you either get faster or get over yourself.
Is anyone else this nuts about sharing trails and paths with other people, or is just one of those special Crab neuroses?