How to Handle a Running Snob
We’ve all encountered the few runners we’d rather not. On rare occasions, out on a group run or at a race, a snide comment or judgment is tossed in your general direction or even directly in your direction. Funny, you are not out seeking judgement or advice and sure enough here comes a bunch of both. Unwarranted advice can be the ultimate turn-off labeling the giver as a know-it-all, especially in a sport where often the manta is “listen to your own body” or “do what works for you.” Most of us can name a few people that fall into the categories below and if you can’t consider yourself lucky, maybe some introspection is in order. The nice thing is there are perfectly pleasant ways to handle the over-anxious “expert.”
It’s on the market. They got it. The runner is in so much gear, it crosses your mind that packing must be a supreme pain. In fact, the gear and opinions pertaining to it is not limited to their own. Got a new watch? They can tell you everything about it and will add commentary. They might also tell you about the gear you should be using but are not. The nice thing about knowing this particular person is that there is no having to read consumer reports. Once you’ve narrowed down what you like or if you need to narrow down what you like they can help! It does also mean being ok with standing your ground on the Target sports bra you rock. More often than not, once the gear snob realizes you are really into one item, like your shoes or socks, you can move past the seeming snob and have conversations about the single piece of gear you really care about and want to spend money on.
Two guys I have run with vary widely in their approach to their very, very impressive speed. One’s really fast and really humble. He takes the time to sincerely ask everyone about their race. The other, also very fast and not so humble, walks around and won’t speak to a soul after any race well run or not. Being bothered by idle chit-chat if another runner is not at his competitive level is not for him. Running is a warm community and when there is a situation of intentionally not being inclusive, it seems selfish. If another runner is judging anyone’s worth by time, be glad you found out early; they aren’t worth your time at all.
Naturally Gifted Snob
After two decades here you are, running along at a pace that was painfully built after years of work and then you happen to be running next to someone who just laced up their shoes last week because they thought it looked fun. It’s a sucker punch in the ego. Unfortunately, tackling personal demons is the best course of action. Yes, it’s not fair. Yes, their laissez faire attitude is supremely annoying but they may not grasp the full breadth of your commitment and work. Honestly. And, again, while annoying this one isn’t their problem- it’s yours. Often the naturally gifted runner is not being boastful, we’re just the ones that are very sensitive because of the effort we have put into ourselves and commitment to the sport. Let this one go or listen to what any parent has even told their child: the hard-work and determination put in build character.
A registered dietitian I am not, but I have had years of figuring out what works for my body. We’ve all heard what others ingest and on occasion we’re appalled and shocked that they aren’t over in the bushes within the first mile. While we are dumbfounded, we don’t judge or if we do, we keep it to ourselves. There is always a want-to-be nutritionist that chastises us for our nutritional choices in some crowd of runners when food is mentioned. Most of us would appreciate the guidance from an actual dietitian or nutritionist but the unwanted breakdown of our proteins and macros is uncalled for. The best way to ward this person off is to claim allergies, intolerance or just plain claim what they are suggesting has made you ill in the past. You may get an odd or judgmental look but you know your body and don’t let anyone tell you to not do something that works for you.
Sometimes there is a reference here and there referring to books. Runners are an educated bunch and assume other runners have done their research. But every now and then there is that guy who had nothing else to do but read about running and has no qualms telling everyone so. Little tidbits shared here and there are quite helpful; a full breakdown of a 500 page book is not. Flash back seven years ago: I had two guys I ran with – both retired, same age, same family life and both avid running readers. My buddy, David, would interject these relevant, interesting facts related to conversations as we ran. To be honest they were so helpful but I felt bad, like I was cheating on a test. The other guy, we’ll call Rick, would go at length – think 6 miles- about the minutia of the book he just read on breathing when the conversation was about nutrition. It was so bad people flat out stopped running with him. He was too much of a know–it-all. The best way to cut this off is at the knees. Ask what the name of the book is called if you sense you are about to receive a verbal dissertation, then feign like you forgot the authors name and when your well-read buddy reminds you, claim you want to read it and if he tells you anymore, tell him not to ruin it.
We’ve all encountered multiple types of snobs, more than listed above. What about the Training Pace snob or the Running Form snob? The list is quite long. The bottom line is keep yourself sane on a run or at least from rolling your eyes too hard. It’s also really important to remember that more often than not, they mean no ill-will but simply an intense passion for the same sport you’re passionate about.