Most people think of runners as a friendly group.
However, there are some issues that can get even the most polite runner riled up. While it’s generally considered good form to not bring up these issues, ignoring them doesn’t make them go away. Besides, what’s the internet without a little controversy?
Here, from least to most contentious, are the three topics most likely to send a group of runners into fits of rage. Or, at least into fits of something slightly more hostile than complete apathy.
If you’re prone to foaming at the mouth, you may want to have a towel handy.
1. Shirtless Running
Run Rage: Mild
On the spectrum of hotly debated topics, this one is pretty mild.
Arguments on the pro-shirtless side include:
- In accordance with the dress 20° warmer rule, some days you have to run shirtless to keep cool.
- Running shirtless decreases your overall weight, allowing you to run faster.
- Sans textile, the odds of spontaneous nipple bleeding are significantly reduced.
(Please see a doctor immediately if nipples bleed spontaneously while not exposed to significant sources of chafing.)
- It’s fun.
Arguing for the shirted camp, opponents’ claims include:
- Running shirtless increases sun exposure and, therefore, the risk of melanoma.
- As a corollary, having to carry sunscreen (to reapply as you sweat it off) negates any weight lost by not wearing a shirt.
- And, of course, the obligatory baseless rant: you’re a fat, ugly, idiot, and I don’t want to see you shirtless. This argument is also seen in the rarer: I’m a fat, ugly, idiot and no one wants to see me shirtless.
So, Midpack Readers? Shirts or skins?
2. Barefoot Running
Run Rage: Moderate
The debate over barefoot running came into renewed focus with the publication of Chris McDougall’s book, Born to Run. If you’re the last holdout, it’s a good read. I suggest you pick up a copy so you can see what the fuss is about (hence the affiliate link).
Discussions of barefoot running can become pretty heated, with occasional accusations of corporate shillery and luddite-ism. For the sake of argument, this discussion will stick to the arguments backed by science and observation.
Arguments for running shod:
- Supporters cite an increasing rate of injury among barefoot runners. As Competitor senior editor Matt Fitzgerald put it, “[...] not all humans are, in fact, born to run [...]“.
- People who suffer from an abnormal gait which, according to statistics, could represent as much as 70% of runners, are more likely to injure themselves without the corrective influence of shoes.
Barefoot proponents counter:
- Barefoot running is more economical, and less likely to cause injury than traditional, shod running. Increasing injury rates are a result of a larger percentage of runners participating in the sport sans shoes.
- New studies have shown no observable correlation between corrective shoes, and a decreased rate of injury.
With solid research on both sides, this one’s hardly a shoo-in. Any no shirt, no shoe types among us, readers?
3. Running vs. Jogging
Run Rage: Severe
By far the fastest way to turn a fun run into an all-out brawl is to suggest that someone else enjoy their jog. It’ll work twice as well if you can manage a derisive snort following that statement.
Those who make the distinction cite two factors that determine a jog:
- There is a level of seriousness, dedication to the sport, that joggers lack.
- By the dictionary definiton of running, there is a biomechanical difference in the gait cycle of a runner, and a jogger. The run cycle places more strain on the foot and ankle, where the jog cycle puts more strain on the knees and back.
However, there is a basis for a counter argument:
- Taking the “a square is a rectangle” approach, the dictionary definition of jogging defines jogging as a slow run! Thus joggers are runners.
- More personally, proponents argue that it is the spirit of the sport that matters, not the form.
A wise runner would steer clear of this debate in polite company. Luckily, we’re not polite company here. So… are joggers runner wannabes, or full fledged pack-mates?
Now that you’re all fired up, I’m sure you can’t resist letting me know where you stand on these issues. Leave me a comment and make your position known! Just be sure to keep it polite. After all, we’re all friends here, right?