Why do they yell? Because they’re jealous! (I hope).

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?


2 comments on “Why do they yell? Because they’re jealous! (I hope).

  1. Glad I found this. I had two unpleasant encounters on my 10 mi. run tonight. One was on a trail. A thuggy looking guy walking with his girlfriend pulled his German Shepherd’s retractable leash all the way across the path to force me to go off the trail. A few minutes later he came sprinting up beside me and laughing.

    Not 20 minutes later I was running in the road and some girls/women in a Jeep with the windows rolled down yelled something at me (who knows what – I couldn’t understand them with my headphones in).

    I was almost in tears when I walked in the door, telling my husband that I don’t understand why there’s so much hate and what I did to deserve that treatment. His explanation is that I’m getting back into marathon shape and I look hot. I choose to believe him. 😉

    • florb63 says:

      Sounds like a tough run! That man with the dog was just downright malicious. It’s possible he was somehow trying to impress his girlfriend by bothering an innocent runner such as yourself (interestingly, when people bother me its always in groups, probably so they can look around at each other for support in their stupidity).

      But when it comes to the yelling out of the car window, that’s definitely familiar territory for me. If you couldn’t understand what they said, assume they screamed a compliment! I was running in Boston a couple of months ago, and I managed to make out a comment yelled out of a car with several college aged girls in it: “Only two miles to go!” Forgetting the inaccuracy of their claim, it was still a nice gesture and I was happily surprised. “Car yellers” can be nice after all.

      But it sometimes does get to me that people do things like this- once, someone honking at me on a sidewalk caused me a sprained ankle. So I just put that frustration into my running and it’s amazing how fast it melts off after I pick up my pace temporarily.

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