I’m Not Running for You

We need to talk about cat calling. It’s never a compliment, and it’s never okay. Ever. Everyone understand? Great.

I was running by myself this weekend. Up the block I saw a man walking toward me. My stranger danger kicked in, and I jogged to the other side of the street. Nothing unusual to this point — until he started shouting.

“Heyyyy, what’s the problem? I just wanted a hug!”

I imagine that man kept walking, went on with his day, and never gave a second thought to me. My experience was significantly different.The rest of my run, I thought of nothing other than how uncomfortable I felt. I picked up the pace, got out of sight, and texted a friend as a precaution. I changed my intended course and stuck to residential areas. I checked in with my friend every few miles.

This isn’t the first time a creep has shouted unwelcome words while I run. This weekend’s encounter got under my skin more than usual, but it’s more common than I’d like to admit. I’m not a size zero, and things move when I run. This is my reality. I made my peace with my body years ago, but loudmouthed assholes pull me back into a very unpleasant place.

To anyone who has ever thought, I see a stranger minding her own business. I’m sure she’d love if I interrupt her and shout something gross. She’d totally take that as a compliment. — I don’t care what you think you’re doing, and I don’t care what your intentions are. This shit is never welcome. It is never appreciated. It’s gross and it’s creepy. Knock it off.

When I run, my motivation is 100% internal. I’m getting right with my heart, I’m getting right with my cholesterol, and I’m getting right with my sanity. I may physically be running in a public place, but I’m in my own world. The fact that other people even exist is secondary when I’m in the zone.

This is exactly how I like it, which is why it’s so frustrating when someone pulls me from that wonderful mental place. Instead of focusing on my strength, I’m focusing on a stranger’s opinion, on poor manners, or on fear.

Make no mistake, a few loud jerks will never keep me from running. I’m happier when I’m moving than when I’m not, but I’m not running for your approval, and I’m not running for your entertainment. Let’s all just practice some impulse control and leave each other alone.

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