Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Do you give unsolicited advice at the gym?

Tonight at the gym, a guy got on the treadmill next to the one I was using. He didn't look like your stereotypical runner (i.e., he was a bit overweight, though definitely not obese), but he set off at a decent 10 min/mi pace. I'm not immune to the perception that runners are mostly thin, so this was a good lesson to check my biases, I thought.

After half a lap, though, the guy reached out to support himself on the side rails for about five seconds. Twenty to thirty seconds later, he reached for the handles to steady himself while gasping. This went on for the rest of his run, which lasted one mile. The crazy thing is he even upped the speed on the treadmill by a tick!

I was tempted to suggest that he slow down, as he seemed to be running faster than he could handle, but (1) I was doing a threshold run and hence couldn't really carry on a long conversation; and (2) I don't give unsolicited advice to other people.

Anyway, he took a break, got off the treadmill (but kept his jacket on it to reserve it), drank water, rested, and then got back on. Once again, he ran at a 10 min/mi pace, and once again, after half a lap, he was doing that grabbing support/gasping bit. This time, he made it only 3/4 of a mile before stopping.

It was kind of painful to notice, not to mention somewhat distracting, so I might have overcome my natural reluctance to say anything, but he finished and left before I was done, so I was spared having to make a decision. But I wonder if, given the opportunity, I should have said something....?

PROS: He seemed to be struggling with his running. Slowing down would have enabled him to run more smoothly, as well as suffering less misery.

CONS: Maybe he was pushing himself on purpose (although interval training would probably be more effective than what he was doing if that were the case). And it's not like I'm actually a certified running coach.

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