Dear Dumb Runner,
When running along popular running routes on sunny days, I often find myself passing muscle-bound young men "doing cardio." This seems to consist of either jogging with extra bounce, or kind of a stutter-step shuffle, and arms held high swinging across the body. What kind of technique can I use to maximize their embarrassment at getting passed by a skinny weakling?—Daryl F., Vancouver, B.C.
The creatures you refer to are known technically as Fitness Runners. To learn more about this and 22 other subspecies of runners, I suggest buying several copies of my latest book, Runners of North America: A Definitive Guide to the Species. Ten is a nice, round number.
I'll share the relevant pages here, because I am such a nice guy. (Click images for a larger view.)
How can you maximize a Fitness Runner's embarrassment at getting passed by a skinny weakling? That's a tricky question. I'm not sure if Fitness Runners are even capable of embarrassment. Embarrassment presumes a certain level of self-awareness, and while Fitness Runners may have many admirable qualities—for one thing, they're usually better looking than we are, which is one reason we find them annoying—self-awareness is not often one of them.
I suppose if you wanted, however, you could try having a friend stand along your running route and timing things just right so that you are passing a Fitness Runner at that exact spot, so your friend can call out, "Hey, everyone! Get a load of this skinny weakling passing a muscle-bound guy! Ha ha!"
The equation changes, obviously, if you find yourself alongside a Fitness Runner indoors, on a treadmill. But just slightly. In this case you would ask the same friend to casually walk past your treadmill moments after you've ramped the speed up to a 6:30 minute-per-mile pace and have him call out, "Hey, everyone! Get a load of this skinny weakling running much faster than a muscle-bound guy! Ha ha!"
In either scenario the muscle-bound guy may respond by pausing his workout to braid you and your friend together like a giant pretzel. But that is a risk you'll just have to take.
p.s. Want to see more of Runners of North America: A Definitive Guide to the Species? Click here!