Should Runners Jog In Place At Traffic Lights?

Do I Want to Look Like A Toddler Doing the Potty Dance?
By Megan Hetzel

To quote RW’s resident running etiquette expert Mark Remy:

“Sharks die when they stop moving. Runners do not.”

This expresses my feelings to a T. I use traffic lights as a chance to stretch my calves and catch my breath, rather than bouncing around looking like a toddler doing the “potty dance.” I embrace the built-in break, especially during the steamy summer months; taking a few seconds to catch my breath isn’t going to ruin my workout.

Your heart rate won’t plummet during the 30 or so seconds you’re waiting around. Yes, you might lose some momentum, but during an easy run, it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. And if you’re in the middle of a workout and you really don’t want to stop, continue down the block for a few metres, then run back. Repeat if the light still hasn’t changed. It’s that simple. You should at least try to “look” like a serious runner, rather than entertaining stopped drivers with a performance of roadside high-knees.

If It’s Good Enough for the Greatest Runner in History…
By Scott Douglas

I used to be firmly in the “no” camp, mostly from the what’s-the-point perspective. (If the concern is that it looks silly, well, that hardly makes it unique among runners’ habits.) Proponents of staying in motion never convinced me it really matters if my heart rate temporarily dips during a normal run. Besides, if the goal of jogging in place is to keep your heart rate elevated, why not do other things that can meet that end? Push-ups or squats will achieve the desired result, and have about as much to do with running down the road as do the odd mechanics of jogging in place.

One of my former training partners is an ardent jogger-in-place. I enjoyed giving him a hard time about his antics when, heaven forbid, we had to wait 12 seconds to cross the street. Usually I would stretch while asking why he didn’t sprint in place instead of jog. When I really wanted to irritate him, I would sit down next to him as he hopped from one leg to the other.

Then came the day before the 2010 New York City Marathon. I was finishing up a run in Central Park, heading back to the race headquarters hotel, when I realised Haile Gebrselassie was doing the same. I stalkingly locked in 5 metres behind to observe the only man in history to set world records at 5,000 metres, 10,000 metres and the marathon. What did I see? That every time we were stopped by traffic in the seven blocks from Central Park South to the hotel, Gebrselassie jogged in place.

Yes, yes, I know, he dropped out of the marathon the next day. And I’m still not convinced you’re ruining your run if your heart rate drops a few beats for a few seconds. Still, I’m going to go with history’s first sub-2:04 marathoner over Megan Hetzel on this one.


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