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Dear Drivers (a letter from a crazy winter runner)

Dear Drivers,

I know you’re all very busy driving speedily to wherever you need to go, but seriously — I have a bone to pick with you. It’s about winter time, and your driving, and learning to share the road.

You see, I’m annoyed by all this snow too. Yeah, it was fun to have a snow day this week, but now it’s all frozen and dirty and there’s nowhere to run. The sidewalks have disappeared under over a foot of this frozen crap, and the shoulders are non-existent. Which means I either run laps around my neighborhood and slog my way through slippery slush, or I brave the traffic and run along the edge of the busier roads.

snowy road

I suppose you probably expect that I just resign myself to running in place in a temperature controlled gym for hours on end. But as much as I can appreciate the treadmill, have you ever tried running on it for 2+ hours?? Honestly — it’s torture.

So you see dear driver, I’m kind of stuck here. I’m training for a marathon, which means I’ve committed to spending hours during my weekends to just run. I realize this may sound crazy, but I assure you I’m doing it for fun. What’s not fun however, is having to spend those hours battling you. I know you think I’m in your way, but I’m trying the best I can. I run as close to the invisible shoulder as humanly possible. I pay attention to you, because I realize that in our constant games of chicken, I always come out as the loser — jumping into a snowbank and watching you whiz by while up to my ankles in snow. Not only that, but I make sure to run in broad daylight so you can see me. Plus I’m running on Sunday (and could you please please explain to me where in the world you’re going in such a hurry on a Sunday?)

I know it must be annoying to have a moving barrier in your way. You’re in a hurry and you can’t really afford the extra split second it takes to get around me. I also realize that you’re having a hard time understanding what the heck I’m doing out there in the freezing cold chugging along with a big pack strapped to my back. But I have to tell you that glaring at me like I’m a public nuisance, or staring like I’m crazy isn’t helping the situation any. Because your wheel ultimately goes where your eyes go. Which means that while you’re giving me the stink eye, your car is moving closer and closer to my body.

I suppose I should probably thank you. Those extra boosts of adrenaline I’d get every time I’d feel the wind from your car breeze by definitely powered me through some speedy miles. But I can only handle this for so long. And ultimately, with my feet sopping wet from jumping into puddles, I end up resigning myself to the treadmill. Because I hate the feeling of being on high alert during an entire run, and would actually like to make it through in one piece.

Today, you won. But the winter is long, and I’m sure there will be more snow on the way. So I just have one simple request: could you please (with a cherry on top) move over just a tad?? I know you rule the road, but would it kill you to make a teeny bit of room for people who prefer to use their feet (or bike wheels) to get around? I know it’s a city and there’s a whole lot of you driving around, but I’d like to think there’s enough space for all of us.

Thanks in advance,

A Crazy Winter Runner

PS. Since we’re already talking about it…I know you might think that when you’re making a right-hand turn, you only need to glance to your left to make sure no other cars are coming along, but I’m here to tell you that you still have to look both ways. I can’t even count how many times I’ve almost gotten hit by you when you don’t actually look the direction that you’re going before turning directly into me.

22 Responses to Dear Drivers (a letter from a crazy winter runner)

  1. Oh my gosh can we send this out to all Mass drivers?? Some are really cautious and considerate but most are not. A woman who wanted to take a right on red almost hit me a couple weeks ago and I know she saw me, she was just proving a point. Its really scary! I wish people would realize that slowing down a little could be saving lives. Love this post Lauren, you’re a great writer! Try to stay safe on the roads with all the crazies :)

    • Thank you!

      And yes — we should!! I used to live in MA and the drivers are just as bad there (if not worse). I swear some of them feel it’s their place to teach you a lesson for daring to run on the roads. It’s crazy how close some of them come and they don’t even blink!

  2. I guess we are lucky to have the Hudson bike trail to run on here. Please be careful!

    • Do they do a good job keeping it clear in the winter? I’m pretty sure the bike path around here is still under snow. I wish I had some place like the Hudson trail to run on. It’d be nice to be able to get off the roads.

  3. I got beeped at a bunch of times on my run today…so annoying. I’m also shocked by how close some cars drive toward runners! Ridiculous! I hope some of it melts before next weekend.
    Lizzy´s last post ..Blogger Meetups!

    • I hate that! The worst is when people come up behind you and beep — it always scares me so badly that I jump (and feel like I’m having a heart attack).

      And now I hear that we’re supposed to get more snow on Tuesday! I kind of hope it just sticks to rain so it’ll melt some of these piles.

  4. Well…running outside DOES make you a public nuisance. I mean really, what kind of hooligan runs in the road? Everyone knows roads are strictly for cars. Also, I think trudging through the 1 foot snow on the sidewalks might add a nice resistance to your workout. It’s like running along the beach, only colder. Maybe those drivers are really giving you the stink eye for taking the easy way out!!

  5. Can I add my signature to this? Man! It’s crazy out there. The part that confuses me is that when walkers are out, cars seem to avoid them easily in some sort of “oh, that person has to walk in this” way, but when we’re running they flip us off, shout, and nearly hit us. I think to only way to relieve my anger is to eat vegan baked goods with a fellow runner.
    Becky´s last post ..Stronger

  6. I have to agree with Corey on this…our MA drivers need this letter in a hurry. ;) It always amazes me that the cars can not move over especially when there is no traffic on the other side in their way….how can 1 runner be such an annoyance to them that they would rather chance hitting us? Saturday it seemed like I was a magnet to cars who just wanted a piece of me. Grrrrrr.

  7. I wish newspapers would publish this! And could we add a part about sharing the road with cyclists, too? It’s so scary out there! And the right hand turn thing always drives me nuts!
    Jen´s last post ..Cheers for others

    • Maybe I should just send it to the papers as a PSA. ;) And I tried adding in biking but it was just getting too long (which is why I copped out by putting something about two wheels at the end, haha). But you’re right. Roads should be shared with all users…whether you’re running, cycling, walking, roller-blading, juggling…etc…

  8. Wow Lauren: I really liked this post. You know you struck a chord with me. How many times did I come back from a run frustrated about the impatient drivers? Now that I am resigned to being a walker (better than being in a walker), I find the same frustrations with drivers as I did when I ran.
    Your comment about the right turn is so true. Remember when Larry Beacher almost ran me over turning right without stopping (sorry Larry, but you really scared the crap out of me). I got the town to put up a better sign that was just harder to ignore, but ignored anyway.
    As your Dad, I still need to say – Be Careful. I would rather see you cold and wet standing in a snow bank as a car passed than lying in one from being hit. And for all your New England drivers……BE CAREFUL! That’s my little girl out there.

    • Yes, I remember your frustration well…especially since every time someone drove too close to us when we were running together you gave the trunk of their car a good slap, haha. It’s actually something I find myself with a strong urge to do these days (thanks Dad).

      And don’t worry — I’m being safe. :) That’s why I ended up on the dumb treadmill yesterday. I got tired of seeing my life flash before my eyes.

  9. I love this! And drivers turning right make me so mad and scare the life outta me! Its gonna hurt us a lot more if you hit us then then car you are so worried about!

  10. I’m trying to think of something awesome that you could throw at passing cars, but all I can think of is “snowballs,” and that seems like a silly suggestion. Nice blog…I’m going to go for a snowy run now. You’ve inspired me.


  11. ugh! i feel this way EVERY time i head out for a run. it actually makes me wish that i lived a little farther out of town….cause as soon as i get on those roads its 100% better. but the roads out of town always have tons of people that apparently need to be somewhere NOW.
    the dawn´s last post ..long weekend!!!

  12. Oh my gosh, yes! Great post, Lauren! I stopped running outdoors in the winter because I almost got hit by cars several time when we lived in Cambridge – those drivers are NUTS! On some of the twisty streets especially, the cars would be so close to the side of the road that I would have to walk carefully much of the way – and then what’s the point of running?? I never understood how people driving hundreds of pounds of death metal could pay so little attention to their surroundings. I suppose now that I live in CT, I could try running on the roads again … but then again, the drivers here aren’t that much better.

    Can I print your post out and put it on everyone’s windshields?? :P

    • Yes! That is the best idea! Maybe I should start with the parking lot at work. It’s always full (so I’d reach a lot of ppl) and the drivers are crazy!

      Running through Cambridge in the winter definitely was a nightmare! I used to live right outside it and had many close calls on those narrow, windy roads.

  13. Oh my goodness, this is awful! I’m so sorry you have to deal with this! Unless we’re talking a perfect 75 degree day, I’m an indoor runner. I’m one of those crazy people who love the treadmill and dread the idea of going out in less than perfect conditions, haha. So I haven’t had this experience, but I can definitely see how this would be awful! Stay safe out there!
    Rach´s last post ..Daily Dose of Cuteness

  14. Gah, I slipped on ice once when a driver got too close to me and I had to hop up on the ice…and this was in the suburbs, not in NYC! I fell flat on my butt and was happy I didn’t somehow manage to slip right into the car…ugh! I wish people were more careful.
    Susan – Nurse on the Run´s last post ..obsessed

  15. Thanks- for the inspiration to get out there! I know the drivers are nuts-but I need to run. Just knowing that you all are out there too gives me incentive to get going.

  16. I just got back from running outside. Granted, it’s nearly a heat-wave in Chicago with this 39 degrees, but snows still occupying all of my usual running terrain. I’m so glad to come back and read this! You’ve articulated every thing I wanted to yell during my run.
    I find that running in parking lots is my only hope when I’m trying to find a “safe” place to run. Even there the drivers act like I’m the only person they’ve seen outside since November. I swear people driving forget that they too, have legs and can walk/run.

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