Dealing With Pace Shaming on the Run

At about the 12 kilometre mark of a double-digit long run, I lost it.

Not “lost it” in the emotional sense. “It” referred to the circular Band-Aid that prevented a wet shirt from rubbing the epidermis right off the third and fourth most sensitive parts of my body.


After the right Band-Aid fell off, I felt the burn, and I hadn’t packed a backup nip-block. I knew that the last eight kilometres would mean either having to accept that one tiny dot on my body was going to feel like a Tobasco-Sriracha cocktail, or having to make an adjustment.

Usual adjustments in such a case would include:

  • Fighting through the pain
  • Just walking home
  • Removing my shirt
  • Running with my right hand under my shirt to take the moisture and material off the sensitive spot

I dismissed options No. 1 through No. 3 because:

I needed relief

I needed to finish my long run

Nobody needed to see me shirtless

But I had complications with executing option No. 4. I was wearing a belt for water, so that cinched my shirt and didn’t allow me to get my arm under it to prevent the rubbing. So I made another adjustment. I removed the water belt and strapped it over my shoulder and chest like a beauty-pageant sash.

That worked. I was able to run with my left arm out freely and my right arm under my shirt. My arm was constricted, yes, but I could preserve a semi-natural running form while also creating my own version of #freethenipple. Not a perfect solution, but manageable.

Later, I crested a hill of the bike path where I was running and saw two police cars blocking the route about a 400 metres in the distance. I had seen them zip by earlier, and I assume they were in the spot to catch speeding drivers.

As I approached them, I wondered if they would see my concealed arm and black-strapped sash and suspect I was up to something. From a distance, I could see the two officers standing outside of their car. I saw them looking at each other, then looking at me.

Because they were blocking the path, I ventured toward the road to go around the cars. They waved me back into the path—and right to them.

Great, I thought, I can’t wait to have to explain why I was running the way I was. I guess at this point I could have taken my arm out to show all was fine, but I kept my pose. NIPPLE PAIN IS REAL!

Right as I got to within a few feet of one officer, he extended one of his hands in the universal cop signal for “stop.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” he said.

Here it comes, I thought—one very awkward encounter of me having to explain that despite my best intentions of keeping my nipples safe, wet Band-Aids can fall off. Unlike the officer who was talking to me, I had no backup in the area.

“We’ve got a speed limit here,” he said, smiling.


That son-of-a-weasel was pace-shaming me.

Friendly while he did it? Yes. But a taunt? Absolutely.

If I was running fast, it would have been a compliment. But I was super slow on the hilly course, and I would categorise his tone as friendly-condescending. I know I might just be paranoid. I really do accept my lot in the back-of-the-pack, and maybe he didn’t really intend for it to be as bad as I took it. Also, I don’t want to make mountains out of molehills, because I’m no good at running inclines anyway.

“I’m at kilometre 17,” I said, smiling back. “You gotta give me a break.”

“Kilometre 17?” he said. “More power to you.”

I spent the rest of run slightly peeved, as well as thankful for not getting pulled over for carrying a concealed bloody bit.

I’m a big boy (duh!), so I can take a barb. But I just wonder of all the things he could have said—“How’s it going?” . . . “Have a good day out here!”—why he couldn’t have kept the ones he chose to himself.

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