I’m sure other runners have gotten this treatment in one form or another. A honk, a yell out of a car window, a snide comment as you run by someone. Whether it be about the length of your shorts, your pace, or, especially if you’re a woman, your body type, it’s downright rude.
Occasionally I’ll get nice comments complimenting my speed or someone cheering me on if I look fatigued. But much more often I get yells out of car windows. On one strange occasion, a man barked at me out of his car window. And then turned his car around to bark at me again. I swear.
Another time a honk caused me to jump and sprain my ankle (immediately before a half-marathon).
Now, while the barker undoubtedly had severe mental issues, I don’t believe everyone who yells at runners has such major problems. While it’s possible they’re just mean-spirited, I like to believe it’s something else entirely: jealousy.
When non-runners see someone fly swiftly past them with smooth strides, they realize that they’re witnessing something they simply cannot do, and they’re overcome with jealousy. In a green rage, they quickly look for something to criticize about the runner to assuage their own feelings of discontent. And if the only thing they can find to mock me for is my shorts (which aren’t really that short), I count that as a victory.
(My theory fails entirely if it’s another runner doing the yelling- but I can’t imagine a runner doing such a thing to his own kind).
It’s easy to believe that all those people who run at yellers are really just terrible people. But jealousy is a much more optimistic view of mankind. After all, how could any reasonable non-runner watch a sweaty, exhausted person run miles for no apparent reason without wishing he could do the same?