PSA for Runners

Last week, my friend Luke, a runner, checked in for a doctor’s appointment. The standard preliminaries presented him with this question: What race best describes you? 

Ironman, maybe? he thought. Then, again, 5Ks were always my favorite. I also spent a lot of time trying to run a five-minute mile… 

 As it turned out, the nurse was just waiting for him to say “Caucasian.” 

Honest mistake. 

For citizens of the distance running world, such misinterpretations are an everyday peril. (Who knew that the “30-minute time limit” on gym treadmills didn’t apply only to non-runners?) Here is a list of common misunderstandings (and the correct explanations) to help runners survive in a non-runner’s world. 

Road Closed
What you think it means: There is a Road Closed sign that you have to run around.
What it really means: The road is closed. 

No Trespassing/Private Property
What you think it means: This is a landmark for reference, as in, “Keep going past the No Trespassing sign another mile or two…”
What it really means: You’re not supposed to keep going past the sign. 

Men’s Bathroom
What you think it means: A bathroom!
What it really means: This bathroom is for men.

Women’s Bathroom
What you think it means: A bathroom!
What it really means: This bathroom is for women.

Park opens 30 minutes before sunrise and closes 30 minutes after sunset
What you think it means: The park is open 24 hours a day.
What it really means: The park is literally closed when it’s dark.

Restrooms Closed for the Season:
What you think it means: These people hate runners and I hate them.
What it really means: They don’t want the pipes to freeze.

No Dumping
What you think it means: Don’t poop here.
What it really means: Don’t throw your trash here. (Author’s note: They probably don’t want you to poop there either.)

Dead End/No Outlet
What you think it means: This is an out-and-back.
What it really means: Yeah, basically that.

No Stopping Anytime
What you think it means: [reads sign, struck by the profound power of the statement, picks up pace and keeps running more determined than ever]
What it really means: Don’t stop your vehicle right here.

Cross/Do Not Cross Signal
What you think it means: You don’t know and you don’t care. [crosses street during the first break in traffic]
What it really means: Seriously? Wait your turn.

Heat Advisory/Caution to stay indoors
What you think it means: This is my chance to set a new hot run record!
What it really means: You could actually die it’s going to be so hot.

Severe Cold/Wind Chill/Caution to stay indoors
What you think it means: This is my chance to set a new cold run record!
What it really means: You could actually die it’s going to be so cold.

Tornado Warning/Watch
What you think it means: Run into the wind on the way out. Run with the wind on the way back.
What it really means: Go in the basement. Seek shelter. NOW.

Dress: Resort Casual
What you think it means: Asics, Nike, Brooks
What it really means: Tommy Bahama, Lilly Pulitzer, Vineyard Vines

Dress: Business Casual
What you think it means: Running tights with some tall boots or maybe a cute scarf.
What it really means: Actual business clothes.

Dress: Festive Attire
What you think it means: A banana suit.
What it really means: A cocktail dress.

Medical Questionnaire:
Do you ever have chest pain?
Do you ever have thumping/racing of the heart?
Do you often experience foot pain?
Do you suffer from frequent cramping in your legs?
Do you often have difficulty breathing?
Do you experience frequent anxiety?
Do you have recurrent problems with fatigue and irritability?
Do you often experience swollen knees or ankles?
Do you suffer from swollen, stiff, or painful joints?
Do you suffer from stomach or intestinal problems, such as diarrhea?
Have you ever experienced rapid weight loss or weight gain?
What you think it means: [checks yes to all of the above]
What it really means: Do you experience these symptoms while not running?

Medical Questionnaire: How old are you?
What you think it means: What is your age group? ("30-34.")
What it really means: What is your actual age based on your birth year? Pick one year.

Medical Questionnaire: Are you active?
What you think it means: Heck, yeah! I run every day!
What it really means: Not that.

And finally…

Medical Questionnaire: What race best describes you?
What you think it means: “What is your best/favorite distance?”
What it really means: Ethnicity. But whatever.


Amy L. Marxkors

Amy L. Marxkors is the author of The Lola Papers: Marathons, Misadventures, and How I Became a Serious Runner and Powered By Hope: The Teri Griege Story.  Click here to receive Amy's weekly article via email.

Connect With Us

see the latest from Fleet Feet St. Louis