Sunday, March 11, 2018

Will Sweat With Anyone: A Guy’s Take on Running With Women

A few years back, there were many articles and schools of thought that tried to point out how similar men and women are. Perhaps festering from a long-standing patriarchal existence, women wanted to show that anything men can do, they can do better. Fortunately, the desire to group both genders into one lump seems to be diminishing as we realize we should celebrate the difference between the genders. There are, without a doubt, some things each gender seems to be a little bit better at than the other. That is what makes us a wonderful match. (Or a horrible dumpster fire. I am not sure which one just yet.)

But what about running with the opposite gender? Well, I am not a female so I can’t speak for any of them. Also, the Council of Men has not elected me its press secretary, so I can’t speak for everyone with an XY chromosome, either. But I feel I can generalize a little bit without too much fear of repercussions. (Okay, I seriously stopped typing for a bit to laugh. Having an opinion without someone on the Internet disagreeing with it?)

Prior to moving to Austin in the Fall of 2016, I had lived in three cities since my running career began. In each city I have had a certain number of people with whom I spent a great deal of time running. In Washington, D.C., most of my runs were with one female friend. She was nearly as fast as me in races and almost always a faster runner when we worked out, so we were a good fit. Our schedules coincided and we lived close to each other. It was perfect.

My time in Salt Lake City, Utah, was where I really hit my groove as a runner. While I spent most of my time running alone, when I did run with others it tended to be with guys. Living in Portland, Oregon, I can say I spend about 98 percent of my time out on runs by myself. In other words, I've run with both genders for a period of time and I've run solo. My conclusion: eventually, it is all the same.

Sure, depending on your motives, running with a member of the opposite sex may mean at some point there may be some awkwardness. You think he has a cute butt; he is trying to suck in his gut a bit to make sure he looks good to you. But eventually it boils down to runners being runners. We gravitate toward one another because we don’t have to explain why we run. When runners say “Chicago” or “Boston,” we automatically know we're talking about marathons and it has nothing to do with the city itself. We are cliquish, even if that clique is rather large.

Absolutely more decorum is used when a man is running with a woman rather than when he is with his other running dudes. Flatulence is probably kept to a minimum (even if it is never fully stopped), and I am talking about both genders. But spit happens. Adjusting of nether regions is necessary and barely even noticed. I may tend to talk more when I am running with women than I do with men, but that happens even in normal circumstances. I remember back in college playing “Madden” with a guy friend for hours without saying so much as a word. A female friend who was waiting for our fourth to arrive marveled at how little men talked. It is sort of the same with running.

I am positive women have experienced that one guy who won’t let them pass them on the track or the dude who sees every opportunity to run as a potential date. But for the most part, once you get comfortable with a running partner, whether they wear a bra or not becomes far less important. Over time the difference between the genders eventually seems to be forgotten. The only question that remains is one of pace compatibility. It is of no surprise to me, even if I don’t mind if my running partner is a hottie, that mostly I hope they arrive on time so we can go sweat.

I suck in my gut mostly for me anyway.

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