Community Old men, stop giving me unsolicited advice during my runs!

    Old men, stop giving me unsolicited advice during my runs!


    The other morning I was running along the MGT and I almost got hit by a bike that cut super close around me (for the record I was on the correct side of the path).  Anyhow, the old dude running towards me says: “You shouldn’t run with earbuds in.  You are going to get hit because you can’t hear.” 

    (Which was super ironic since I still had my earbuds in so not sure if he expected me to read lips.) Me: “Dude, I can hear you just fine.” 

    I would have heard that cyclist, too, if he had rang his bell or said “on your left.” Given that I was running in my Chicago marathon shirt and am in way better shape than he was, he probably should have realized that I’ve been at this awhile. Seriously, dude: Keep your stupid comments to yourself!

    Anyhow, I was so miffed that I posted my thoughts on Facebook.  Sadly, but not surprisingly, many of my female friends have also had similar experiences.  

    “I get it, too. Typically from older men,” said one of my friends.

    “Maybe we should consider swapping out race shirts with ones that just say: MIND YO BUSINESS.”

    “I got mansplained to on my workout this morning,” said one friend. “It made me so mad I ran faster.”

    “I feel like in the last few months it just went overboard in frequency,” said another running friend. “We all need to run together more and show ‘em we could kick their butts on the course!!”

    Why do men—older men in my case, but apparently men in general do this—think it’s OK to give us unsolicited advice? In addition to the earbud comment I have been told, among other things:

    • not to run too close to the middle of the path on the MGT,
    • not to run by myself on trails
    • and my favourite, run with a light.

    The last one, in itself, is solid advice, but did you really think I intentionally set out to run in the dark without a light? Or maybe, just maybe, I misjudged my distance or speed and got caught closer to twilight than I planned (not complete darkness) as did the guy running ahead of me to which I noticed you didn’t offer your “friendly” advice!!!!!!   

    I don’t think I come off as helpless or clueless. In reality, some of these men aren’t much older than me so I don’t think it’s a “dad” thing, either. Honestly, this is almost as annoying as the guy who rides back and forth by you a few times before he tells you he likes your running skirt. OK, the latter is a little more creepy than annoying, but no less welcome. 

    I am a strong, smart woman who doesn’t need a man telling me what to do. So please keep your comments to yourself or don’t be surprised when I tell you what to do with them. 


    1. Happily, I am not one of them. Old man, yes. Offering unsolicited advice, no. About the earbuds, I agree with him, but who asked? It’s like telling a smoker that it’s not good for him/her. But most of the woman runners I know are far more accomplished than I am, so I watch and learn, not provide advice. I loved a woman’s shirt I saw at an expo (might even have been Chicago’s): “Yes, I do run like a girl – now try to keep up!”

    2. Thanks for splaining that to us Bob K, although perhaps you missed the point of the article and especially the last sentences.

    3. Another strong, smart woman here who also doesn’t need anyone telling her what to do. Like you, I too am an experienced distance runner with maybe the same Chicago Marathon shirt as you. It seems we share many traits, but certainly not the same perspective.
      I look at your ear bud comment and think he was trying to keep you safe. 15 years ago eat buds were seen as a real safety hazard. Why not look at it that way?
      I treasure every bit of insight an older runner tries to impart. They are trying to help and share the their experience and knowledge. Is it needed? Probably not, but it doesn’t need to be taken in a negative way. You can choose your perspective.
      Search for the Molly Seidel story about the guy next to her on the plane after she finished third at the marathon in Tokyo. She mentioned she was a runner and he proceeded to give her tips for training, showed her a pro’s schedule. It was her training program. She sat there engaged in his chit chat and let him continue.
      As she said “I didn’t have the heart to tell him”.
      As much as no one else can run for you, it is a community and I know I am glad to have people who “have been there done that” to learn from.
      Run Happy!

    4. I’m a 67 year old male runner with some arthritis. I recently had a crowd of women runners force me off the path as they would not run single file. I told my wife that a group of men running would not do the same to a woman. Please, take out your frustrations with a professional. This mob mentality has got to stop.

    5. Lori Bellerby I agree that 15 years ago ear buds were a hazard but they’ve come a long way. Mine are made for running which means you can hear. Had the roles been reversed I wouldn’t have told the male runner that he shouldn’t wear earbuds but would have told the cyclist that he should indicate when he is passing someone – especially at high speed and especially that close! As for the Molly Seidel article, I have also read it, and she was already in a conversation with the man. Had she been at the track doing her workout and some random man had come up and started yelling advice at her I suspect her reaction may have been different. Sadly I know women that that has happened to as well. I am actually a very happy runner and wave or acknowledge every runner that I pass. If I end up running with someone I don’t know or we meet at a water fountain and have a conversation in which I am offered advice of course I listen. But to have men yell “advice” at me, some of which is blatantly sexist, is not right. You may be ok with that but I am not, even if they maintain that it is coming from a good place. It has to stop.

    6. To all the posters who think Maureen was getting friendly advice… try this thought exercise. How many other people do you think Mr. Helpful Friendly offered the same advice to on his ride? Judging by the number of people I see out for a run, ride, walk, rollerblade, pushing a stroller on the MGT with earbuds on it likely would have been quite exhausting informing all these people of the danger of wearing earbuds out in public….

    7. Maureen, I agree that any unsolicited advice is impolite. Sexist though? Not sure about that, as cyclists frequently toss that out. Not having been a woman, it’s hard for me to identify though. I do agree that ALL cyclists should warn pedestrians when approaching from behind, especially at high speed. We make it a point to thank cyclists who do so as they whiz by…

    8. Hey old man – here’s some advice, keep it to yourself! Your grandkids might want to hear it but the rest of the world is just fine.

    9. For all of you leaving rude comments, do you really think that this man has gone up to other men to give advice? I would bet the farm that he never has. If he wanted to help out, he should have shouted at the person on the bike. I’m sure that this is not the first time that this has happened to Maureen and sadly won’t be the last either.

    Comments are closed.