Runner’s World is full of articles on “running etiquette,” which is fine, though most of us know not to blow our nose on nearby runners or shove someone during that last sprint to finish. But I can’t think of an article I’ve ever read that gives advice on how to be less creepy while running near the opposite sex.
Let’s face it, men. To 90% of all women other than your wife *, sister, mother, great-aunt, and (maybe) daughter, you are creepy. This is especially true of men, like myself, who are at or near forty and slightly balding. Think about it. What do all of the creepers in 80’s stalker movies look like? Sorry.
And the creepy effect is multiplied when you put on your running clothes and get near groups of running-clothes clad females. This is true whether you’re married or single, black or white, outgoing or quiet. You’re going to give some lady, somewhere, the creeps. Even that woman who creeps you out is going to tell her friends that you are “really creepy.” Still, although it’s inevitable that we be creeps, we will do well to remember our creepiness and take basic steps to minimize it.
1. Minimize visible chest hair.
This doesn’t mean to shave your chest; that, too, can be perceived as creepy. But don’t borrow your wife’s low cut tank for your next 10k. And unless you’re between the ages of 18 and 20, don’t go shirtless, regardless of how hot you are. The only exception is if you are the leader and too far in front to be seen or care. Even then, put your shirt back on shortly after your cool down.
2. Shave your moustache **.
Remember that 80’s stalker movie we mentioned?
3. Wear shorts that cover your thighs.
Again, borrowing your wife’s running clothes is a bad idea. We had to wear those school issued track shorts, but there’s no excuse now.
4. Don’t talk to attractive female runners who you don’t know at races.
But if you do, be aware of two things: you stink, and you’re creepy. The sooner you remember these, the better.
5. Don’t stare at competitors of the opposite sex, especially if you are wearing large, dark shades (and have a moustache.)
6. Don’t ask a female runner to help you pin on your number. Do not offer to help a female runner pin on her number.
7. Don’t partake in the free post-race sports massages—these are for the ladies, regardless of what anyone says.
8. Don’t pretend to be a sports massage therapist after the race. And don’t casually hang out at the free post-race massage tent while sipping your electrolytes.
9. Don’t take “race photos” of people you don’t know. Especially children. Or their mothers.
10. Don’t invite yourself on training runs with groups of females. If you must run with the ladies, have your wife call them and ask if it’s okay.
11. Don’t approach female runners you don’t know, especially when running in the dark, and ask if you can tag along. Just because you both happen to be running does not mean you have some special bond.
12. Wear deodorant.
I know. That’s already in the “running etiquette” article. But still.
I hope these tips are helpful, men. If we can just remember that we are creepy regardless, that’s half the battle!
* Even my wife thinks I’m creepy 53% of the time.
** A moustache alone does not qualify as creepy. Cowboys and other such men are exempt from this rule. Moustaches do not go with short, pink running shorts.