Track taxonomy for runners

Now that it’s winter and many of us are running indoors more, it’s time for my runners’ guide to other track users:

  1. Stinkers: dudes whose “workout clothes” really need to be taken home and washed. Only annoying at close range, and usually not on the track very long.
  2. Power walkers: walk fast with full arm movement. Leaning, intense, often breathing through the mouth. They look funny, but stay on the inside and seldom double up. Good track companions.
  3. Pass-me-nots: runners who, if passed, will immediately speed up and try to counter-pass. Fun to toy with them during speed work.
  4. Wrong siders: walk on the outside despite the multiple signs which say WALKERS STAY INSIDE PLEASE. Some will correct their behavior if asked. Others get attitude. Just shoulder them a bit while passing (with cordial apologies, of course).
  5. Faders: start very fast, then slow down gradually, then walk. (Different from runners doing speed work.) Usually harmless, except for those who stop suddenly without warning.
  6. Breakers: do a lap, take a break, do two laps, take a break, etc. Often only on the track for a few minutes. Amusing, and if they are also Faders, gone quickly.
  7. Audiologists’ future boat payments: wear earphones which can be heard halfway across the gym. Impossible to warn them when passing; just do it. Often appear as #1 or #11.
  8. Phoners: talk on the phone the whole time. Most dangerous when dialing. Easily shamed into hanging up or leaving the track (just yell “ON YOUR LEFT!!!” before passing).
  9. Finger walkers: walkers who count laps on their fingers. (How they can do this, I don’t know. I have to use a stopwatch.) Usually good companions, since they are concentrating.
  10. Talkers: people who walk two or three abreast, talking loudly, and grudgingly move to allow runners to pass. Blasting between them occasionally usually fails to make any point, but can be fun.
  11. Flirters: teenage girls not really interested in walking or running, but rather attracting the attention of teenage boys playing basketball below. Often come in groups as Breakers, Phoners, or Talkers. Thankfully, they usually stay on the inside, even when they stop to coo at would-be Romeos.
  12. Fraidycats: runners afraid to trouble other people. They will break stride or slow down to avoid trapping a passing runner, or when Talkers get in the way.
  13. Me: none of the above. (Most of the time.)
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