Passing silently: respectful or unhelpful?

I was very interested to read these dueling opinion columns in Runner’s World about passing people during races. I don’t know why passing people is such a sticky subject for runners, but it is. I’ve always had the opinion that some people are going to be faster than me – and thus will probably pass me – and some are going to be slower, and I’ll probably pass them. That’s the great thing about running: ANYONE can be a runner, whether you’re Meb or … well … someone like me.

That being said, when I began running, I quickly learned that passing can be a sore spot for some people, and so I now choose to do it silently. If the field is packed and I get fairly close to someone I’m passing, I might call out “on your left,” but I don’t give encouragement. I also try to keep my mouth shut when I pass people on training runs, too. I still continue to be surprised by how many dirty looks I get when I pass people – even people who are walking. I guess they think I should stop and walk behind them? I don’t know.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m still in the business of giving encouragement to my fellow runners. After I finish a race, I’ll often stand on the sidelines and cheer in those behind me, and I’ve been known to come up and congratulate runners who’ve done especially well. That all happens after we cross the finish line, though.

In personal news, I completed 20 miles last week (second week in a row, yay!) and I’ve been doing some running with my local chapter of Moms Run This Town, which has been fun. Still contemplating my next race.

Photo courtesy Peter Mooney via a Creative Commons license/Flickr

One thought on “The Politics of Passing People

  1. Momshomerun

    I never participate in races so I don’t have much experience on that front with being passed. But as a lone runner I know I’m not very fast, and it’s only to be expected that people will pass me.

    So I won’t throw them dirty looks.


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