The walking lobby in New Zealand is strong and vocal. You cross them at your peril. Last week in this column I suggested that kiwi walkers should give way to runners.
With so many people out and about in the fresh air trying to stay 2 metres apart, things can get tricky. Footpaths aren't always wide enough. Then there's gates and various bottlenecks.
My argument was simple. Walkers should give-way to runners in these 50/50 situations because runners have times they want to beat. We are running against kilometre averages on our apps.
Walkers out to stretch their legs aren't on such time restraints. Secondarily runners will get through the gaps quicker by virtue of their speed.
These views weren't popular with some walkers. I received serious kickback on social, via email and in-person out on my runs. Not to mention the angry calls to my Hauraki Breakfast Radio show. Turns out most people really hate runners.
I've taken this constructive feedback on board and this week I'm changing tack. Maybe we need to change perceptions. Maybe it's time for a charm offensive from runners. So here are three ways runners can make people hate us less. Watch your running bitch face, watch your spit-filled breathing and don't look too hot.
RUNNING BITCH FACE
Going fast makes you tired. Tired people lose control of their facial muscles. When your face collapse it can make you look angry. As a result, a walker may think a runner is mad at them when they aren't.
We are often too rooted to say thanks when a walker gives way. Add to that a nasty face and you make a walking enemy for life. It's called Running Bitch Face or RBF. Not to be confused with Resting Bitch Face also RBF.
Some people's faces rest in a friendly way. For others, their neutral position looks mean. I have a friend that decided never to smile in case it gave her wrinkles. As a result, people are always asking me 'why does Kerry hate me?'. I say 'she doesn't she's just running an RBH'.
Runners should be aware of the other RBH (Running Bitch Face). You may be too shagged to say thanks. But surely you can muster a smile. Maybe if we runners look friendlier people won't hate us so much.
WATCH YOUR FLUIDS
Generally speaking, runners have more fluid flowing out of their bodies than walkers. There is the heavy breathing and the sweating.
Worst, the nose often gets involved. A walker might happily let you go first. But if you thank them by spraying them with DNA they will hate you forever. That's why I run with a sweat towel to wipe my brow.
You can also attempt to hold your breath when close to a walker. Definitely wipe your nose. Maybe if we runners keep our fluids to ourselves people won't hate us so much.
REMEMBER YOU'RE SEXY
A side-effect of running is hotness. Tight buns, rocking abs and chiselled features. This can annoy walkers. Who may be running the opposite rig. There is no need to inflame the situation with million-dollar tight-fitting activewear.
That's why I run in a punishing pair of oversized grey sweat pants, a stained white singlet and a red 'Make America Great Again' hat. I look terrible.
Also as a paid-up member of the MOVID19 movement, I've been growing a horrific prison-style horseshoe moustache. Showing my support for male mental health. This look has twin benefits.
No-one has ever hated me for being too hot and they stay away from me because I look like a serial killer. My 13-year-old son is so embarrassed he won't run with me. He runs around 50 to 100 metres ahead. Although that may be more of a youth and fitness issue.
In these strange times walkers hate runners more than ever. I found that out the hard way. The abuse has been intense. But much of the blame sits with runners like myself. We are often smug and stinky.
So let's watch our Running Bitch Faces, our fluid transfer and our hotness. If we extend these olive branches to our slow-moving cousins maybe they will continue to do the right thing and get the hell out of our way.