Keep Calm and Run On!

How to deal with nasty bystanders, drivers, and canines.

Jeff Galloway |

How to deal with nasty bystanders, drivers, and canines. – By Jeff Galloway

Illustration by dan woodger
Illustration by dan woodger

It can be intimidating to step off the treadmill and into the unpredictable world. Inside the gym, you’ll find like-minded people who value exercise as much as you do. Outside you get fresh air, natural beauty – and occasionally a less-than-positive interaction with folks (or animals) who are not as cheerful as you. Here’s how to deal with these challenges so you can continue on your great adventures.


Somehow, there are still people who think shouting “Run, Forrest, run!” at passing runners is clever. Whether you hear that or something more cruel mid-run, the best response is none at all. (Unless, of course, you feel threatened. Then, get to a safe place and call the police.) Hecklers are fairly uncommon – if you often encounter them on a particular route, consider rerouting to avoid where they congregate.


While you want to avoid engaging a heckler, you really want to avoid engaging an angry person driving a monster truck. Most drivers will leave you alone if you obey the rules of the road – that is, by running against traffic and on pavements when they’re available. If a driver shouts or honks at you, try not to react, and find a safe area. Avoid busy or narrow roads whenever possible.


Dogs instinctively want to chase, so if you see a pup off-leash, slow to a walk or stop moving. If the dog is running at you or barking, stay calm, stand tall, and say, “STOP.” That should be enough to get most dogs to retreat. If the animal continues coming after you, pick up a rock and hold both arms in the air. Throw the rock if needed as you ease out of the dog’s domain.

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