Sharing the Road

2 Nov

Yesterday morning I ran 4 miles with my training group. Due to this past weekend’s Marine Corps Marathon and this upcoming weekend’s New York City Marathon, our group was small. The three of us ran on the road, making sure to be mindful of cars.

When a car comes, our group does the following:

  1. Yell “car back” or “car front” loud enough for the whole group to hear. The front and back signifier lets everyone know if the car is coming from behind or ahead.
  2. Run along the curb facing traffic. If a car is traveling fast or we aren’t sure if they can see us, we’ll jump on the sidewalk instead.

At one point during our run an oncoming car honked loudly at us and it seemed that they swerved towards us, not away from us. In a quiet neighborhood at 6 AM, I couldn’t help but think how rude of a gesture this was on so many levels. I felt bad for anyone that was sleeping in the houses around us because they got awoken with a nice little “$@%& you” honk in the wee hours.

When this sort of thing happens, I try to just wave and smile and remind myself that we’re supposed to be sharing the road. I imagine the driver as that kid in kindergarden that would punch you if you tried to play with one of their toys.

Runner’s World has plenty of similar stories online, but this one takes the cake. Chase a runner with a tire iron? What a lovely gesture! But a commentator John 3-13 makes the best point: “I run into the hostile ones too, but what leaves a lasting impression are the considerate ones.”

How true! For my last half marathon I trained by myself and I can’t tell you how much I appreciated the random words of encouragement I would get from strangers on my long, lonely runs. I’ve heard “Nice run,” “Better you than me,” and my personal favorite “Nice legs.” (That last one I now use for marathon posters.) I’ve had drivers stop traffic to let me cross, honk and wave, and move over to the other side of the street to give me plenty of room to run.

What nice gestures have you received from drivers while running?

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