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Temporarily stressful events that occur during runs.

10/13/2010

Certain anxiety-inducing events seem to crop up consistently on my runs.

I don’t mean anything big – like monsoon rains, or scary animal encounters, or other runners who inadvertently force you to press your pace – those are all legitimate causes for sustained mid-run tension.

These events are far less worthy of notice. They cause me the briefest flickers of irritation, and then they are finished.

Even so, it struck me today that these “temporarily stressful events” happen frequently enough to merit recognition:

Running by the same people more than once. Oh no, oh no. I already ran by this weird doofus in the green hat who is out doing yardwork. I smiled friendly-like and said good morning, incorrectly assuming this would constitute the entirety of our interaction. Now he’s still out here, apparently just waiting around for me to return. I have to say hi again? Great. Now he will invariably make another comment.

“Shcmdialksdfxl,” Green Hat mumbles inaudibly, grinning ear to ear. I don’t even hear what he says, but now I have to laugh genially. As I’m passing by, Green Hat keeps talking, and talking, and commenting, because now we are best friends. WHAT?! Did I request your commentary? I keep laughing nervously out of politeness as I sprint out of earshot. Whew. That was temporarily stressful.

Green lights at an intersection. When I’m running up to an intersection and I see that the light is green, I immediately snap into “Oh, sh*t!” mode. Because if the light is green now, it will probably turn red by the time I’m ready to run through the crosswalk. OMG OMG OMG. Now it’s turning yellow. GO. GO. GO! SPRINT! I don’t want to interrupt my momentum and jog around at a red light! GO! OMFG, it’s red, but I’m still sprinting across the road like Frogger on crack, because I know I have that one precious extra second before the light will turn green for the crossroad. Whew. That was temporarily stressful.

Clueless drivers attempting to make turns. Here I am, running on the sidewalk all safety first, when I realize I am about to reach a side road! Ah, excellent. And here is Mrs. Oblivious, waiting to make a right turn, chatting animatedly on her cellphone and rendering herself utterly ignorant about her surroundings. She is looking stoically in the other direction, absorbed in finding a break in traffic so that she can make her turn and zoom along on her merry way.

Meanwhile, I am getting closer and closer. It is conceivable that some deranged chiropractor has superglued Mrs. Oblivious’s neck vertebrae into place, because she has still not turned her head to check in the other direction – my direction. My blood pressure is getting higher and higher. She’s not even going to look in this direction! Crud, crud, crud. Now I’m so close I could spit on her car, and it’s decision time. Oh, boy. Do I weave around Mrs. Oblivious’s car and go behind her, or try to dash in front?

Nuts. I don’t want to interrupt my trajectory; I’ve got such excellent momentum. I think I’m going to try and make it in front of her – I do technically have the right of way, after all.

Here I go!

OMG, Mrs. Oblivious found her opportunity to go and has just released her foot from the brakes. She is making her right turn, directly into me.

This makes sense?

NOT SO FAST, JERK.

I do a nifty little stutter step as her car noses out into the street, and then I SLAM my hand onto the hood of Mrs. Oblivious’s car on purpose. (Thanks Dad, I learned this one from you). She slams on her brakes all open-mouthed and surprised. THAT’S RIGHT, LADY. Didn’t you learn to look “Left, right, left” in driver’s ed. before turning? Well, now you’ll never forget. You are most welcome, and trust me, that dent I possibly just punched into your hood will cause you far fewer life problems than mushing me with your tires would have. Whew. That was temporarily stressful.

Thoughtful drivers attempting to make turns who wait around for pedestrians to cross the road. Here I am, running on the sidewalk all safety first again, about to reach another side road. This time, a car is waiting to make a turn from the main road. Shoot!  Now I have to pick up my pace because I hate being the selfish nimrod making cars idle in the middle of the road as they wait for my punk self to cross. What if there is heavy traffic and they miss a good opportunity to turn because I’m lollygagging my way through the crosswalk? Oh no, now Thoughtful Driver is smiling at me and generously waving that I can cross; I can’t stand it. Go, go, go, pick it up and sprint across so that Thoughtful Driver can make the turn. Whew. That was temporarily stressful.

Am I the only runner overcome by fleeting moments of dread whenever these particular events seem imminent? I think it’s simply that they create a momentary sense of urgency that rips me out of my running-induced happy place.

What are some other common “temporarily stressful” or “temporarily annoying” events that you experience on your runs?

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20 Comments leave one →
  1. 10/14/2010 02:20

    I get stressed out when I come up to an intersection where cars stop, but I don’t. I have had multiple near death experiences.

  2. 10/14/2010 03:32

    first of all: lollygagging – great word.

    second, it’s probably not nice to say but i can’t stand pedestrians. they SEE me running towards them and instead of sharing the sidewalk they either a) don’t let me pass, or b) STEP IN FRONT OF ME AND STAND THERE. it’s like are you serious??!!!!! wouldn’t the polite thing be to NOT CAUSE AN ACCIDENT or is that just crazy talk?

  3. Lacey permalink
    10/14/2010 04:31

    the oooonly caution i woudl give about slamming someone’s car… possibly giving that person a heart attack! for reals!!!! lol. but otherwise, brilliant.

  4. 10/14/2010 05:33

    Ahh, I hate the right-turning people! I have slammed a hood or too on occasion as well.

    I get oddly stressed when I’m coming up on another runner or walker to pass them. I feel like I’m going to startle the beejezus out of them so I try to run extra loud as I approach (shuffling aggressively through crunchy leaves, etc).

    • 10/14/2010 05:34

      That would be TWO not TOO. I TOO have slammed a hood or TWO. I need more coffee.

  5. 10/14/2010 05:58

    Dogs scare me. Whenever I see them unleashed I always just assume it’s a matter of seconds before they take a big bite out of my calf…

    Hehe, loved this post!

  6. 10/14/2010 06:01

    BEST POST EVER. And I assure you, that is only slight hyperbole.

    Also…you? Are not alone.

    I’ve actually punched cars before. And had a dude yell at me for punching his car after he almost ran me over.

    Things I will add:
    -Making eye contact with a driver who is clearly not going to wait for you and having to make the decision to stop and glare or go anyway and glare and risk getting hit. ITS STRESSFUL.
    -People that zig zag on the sidewalk/stop on the sidewalk to talk/people with dogs that look like they are about to jump at you that make no attempt to move them

    I’ll stop there.

  7. 10/14/2010 06:21

    You know, I read this, then went out on a really lovely run that was punctuated by a Real Housewife of New Jersey lookalike almost making a left turn into my compression-tight clad ass. I was in the crosswalk, and she swings her car towards me. I stop dead, terrified, and she mouths “GO!” I yell, “LOOK WHERE YOU’RE GOING!” and take off.

    Oh. Apparently I’m still riled up. Ha. What I’m trying to say is, I have big problems with drivers. If they’re on the phone, it’s even worse. I have yet to punch a car, but there have been very obnoxiously-shouted semi-profanities.

    Nice post! I’m all pissed off now!

  8. 10/14/2010 06:59

    ummmmmm. every single one of these things happened to me this morning. needless to say it was a stressful run haha!

  9. 10/14/2010 07:30

    These are hysterical! The last one gets me…I’m worried that some non-attention-paying-person is going to drive into the back of polite car & hit us both!

  10. 10/14/2010 07:37

    I love people who can’t look to the right! They are awesome. Even better are the people who do look right, and still pull out in front of you anyway!! Thank you, idiot driver, for making me break my stride. Appreciate that one.

    Beautiful artwork. Maybe when you get back from AK you’ll land a career in graphic design.

  11. 10/14/2010 11:03

    Oh, so true about the drivers. My other favorites are 1) drivers who don’t stop fully at stop signs EVEN WHEN THEY SEE ME, and 2) drivers at an intersection who, after I’ve let the driver ahead of them go on, think I’ve given them the go-ahead too. Ah, no, I didn’t.

    And dogs. Not the ones on leashes, but the ones that are fenced in and surprise you by suddenly jumping up and barking just as I go by. Heart-attack time.

  12. 10/14/2010 11:06

    Oh man, there’s this narrow strip of sidewalk with a guardrail on one side and a busy street on the other. I run on it every day and sometimes I meet a biker coming the other direction. There is not room for both of us!

    The green lights stress me out on a daily basis as well.

  13. 10/14/2010 16:10

    Great post. Running in China is like one stressful event after another. Seriously, going to go gray running over here. Constantly living on the edge. Drivers stop for nothing!!

  14. Murdoch permalink
    10/14/2010 16:14

    Ive never understood the “im turning right so all I have to do is look left for cars” line of thought. Last week Laura almost ended up on someones hood while we were out running for this exact reason.

    Back when I was a resident of the 06357 (right?) there was this hill that lasted maybe 20 seconds of pedaling to get into my neighborhood but it was wicked steep, like probably a 20% grade. Since the hill was blind over the crest cars would follow behind me for the whole way up it. Of course I don’t want to annoy them too much so i’d always rip up it as hard as I could. I was probably doing like, 10MPH tops but it hurt like hell. So put one under “Drivers that are afraid to pass you”.

    • 10/19/2010 14:15

      That is a PERFECT EXAMPLE OF SOMETHING THAT WOULD TEMPORARILY STRESS ME THE HECK OUT!

  15. 10/15/2010 05:28

    This makes me thankful a lot of my runs are along lake paths or on country roads. But seriously, when I do run through town or in a bigger city, I have anxiety for all the reasons you mention. I HATE intersections. That said, my scariest encounters lately have been when wild animals (squirrel, pheasant, etc) startle me. Not exactly a bear, but sometimes I still jump. I’m a wimp 🙂

  16. 10/15/2010 06:35

    You are not alone. You have just validated so many sources of running stress for me.

    I ran on the road (as opposed to the trails I typically use) for the first time in years last weekend. Yep, still stressful.

  17. 10/20/2010 17:44

    Dogs on those invisible leashes that magically extend the moment you run by.

    Anyone walking and typing because for sure – no matter how much I try to avoid them – they will veer into my path.

    Streetcar tracks. Sidestepping after 30k is not one of my skills.

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