Don’t Be “That” Runner

Why do runners stockpile their entire ration of revolting actions for race day?

I’d estimate that 98 percent of the time, you at least pretend to be civilized. You probably don’t pick your nose in the grocery store before picking a cantaloupe from the produce department. It’s likely you have mastered control of your bodily functions, even when it’s uncomfortable. Of course you have, because you’re a grown-ass adult; you know better than to rip a sonorous fart when sitting next to your boss.

But there’s still that 2 percent of the time when you are a human factory of grossness, and I’m pretty sure most runners stockpile their entire ration of revolting for race day. Common decency, manners, normal behavior—it all goes flying out the window once we pin on a bib number.

Case in point: I just witnessed someone pooping.

I’m not talking about seeing a human form squatting in the weeds somewhere. That would be quaint compared to what I actually saw, which was a full-on colonic exorcism next to the starting corral. Mere minutes before the starting gun was to go off, a man exited the corral, jogged about 30 meters up a slight grassy incline, and dropped trou. After expelling the contents of his bowels, he stood up, adjusted his race belt, and jogged back to the 7-minute-mile seed just in time for the starting gun.

Some things you can’t unsee. Someone’s gaping asshole is one of them.

What is it about running that makes decency go out the window? Why do we assume we get a free pass on basic decency while in pursuit of a PR? Granted, shit happens, but why can’t it happen in a port-o-john?

Snot rockets, loogie-hawking, wedgie-digging, vomit-burping, the unmistakable brap-brap-brap of a fart – they’re all normal occurrences while running, sure, but that doesn’t mean I want a front-row seat to the workings of your body. Pull off to the side, for crying out loud. No one wants to be crop-dusted. You may be impressed with the fetidity of your butt toots, but I assure you, the rest of the world is not.

Look, I take pride in a well-placed snot rocket just as much as the next guy. But I also make sure to move all the way to the right before aiming. And while we’re at it, a word on aid-station Vaseline: Please don’t double-dip. I get it, you’re chafing and need more lubricant, but dude, you just touched your balls. You’re seriously going to put that hand back in the communal Vaseline?

It seems we’ve normalized this gross behavior, sometimes to the point of glorifying it. Runners half-joke, half-brag about strange bodily functions in strange, claiming it can’t be controlled, and yet you never hear someone bragging about how they took a leak while in line at the post office because they “just couldn’t hold it any longer.”

It can be controlled. 98 percent of the time, you choose to control it. Let’s work on that other 2 percent. You may be a runner, but you’re still a grown-ass adult. Now act like it.

READ MORE: Let’s Face It—Runners Come in All Shapes and Sizes!

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Susan Lacke
Susan Lacke is habitually undertrained and overconfident. Her bestselling book, “Life’s Too Short to Go So F*cking Slow,” (VeloPress) is available in bookstores, at running and triathlon shops, and on e-readers today.