When a Run Becomes a Workout: Women Who Pass Men

In my 17 years of running, I’ve passed many guys in both training runs and races. Most are good natured – I’ve received so many encouraging words from men during races. Some don’t even notice I’m a woman, or don’t seem to mind my gender at all. Some guys get furious.

Quite often, I run into the issue of guys getting huffy (or magically getting their second wind!) when I pass them in races. Most recently this happened in the Fremont 5k where I had the back-and-forth battle with the high school kid. In the Rochester Half Marathon in 2010, a young man was battling it out with the lead woman and me for the last 7 miles. It was one of those situations where we would pass him and he would immediately pass us back. That can get sort of annoying in a long race.

Rochester Marathon Awards

Me and my little lady after the Rochester Half in 2010.

Overall though, this doesn’t bother me. I don’t want to get beat by anyone, man or woman, but sometimes I do. I know how these people feel and I don’t let it get to me. Plus, I like to think I am making us both run faster because neither one of us wants to get beat. One time this past March, I got a little upset on a training run though, and I had to take action.

I’d been taking it easy all winter and an easy 5 miles was my go-to-run. I was running along around 7:45 pace and I passed a runner. Instead of a good-natured morning greeting, I was met with some harsh words relating to me passing him and how it wasn’t a race. I was taken off guard by the comment and couldn’t help but be bothered by the fact that this dude had no idea that I was running easy and wasn’t trying to bruise his ego. I decided to show the guy what I was made of. I picked up the pace and before I knew it was out of his sight. A 7:30 pace run turned into a sub 6:20 pace run, all because of someone else’s bad attitude and apparently not liking being passed (possibly because I am woman). Nothing like someone else’s anger to fuel my competitive nature and a good run.

Has anyone ever given you a hard time for passing them on a trail or during a race? Have you ever given someone a hard time because they passed you? 

15 thoughts on “When a Run Becomes a Workout: Women Who Pass Men

  1. I experienced that attitude last weekend on my first bike race of 100 miles. Somewhere around mile 60 we met this group of guys at the bathroom. We went our separate ways. At mile 80 there was this huge hill that climbed over 500 feet over two miles. I was passing everyone going up that hill. I felt really great. I was waiting for my friend

  2. I experienced that attitude last weekend on my first bike race. It was 100 miles total. At around mile 60 we met these guys at the bathroom and then went our separate ways. Around mile 80 there is this huge hill about 500 feet in hill elevation gain in two miles. I was feeling really good and flew up this hill, passing everyone. I waited at the top for my friend. The guys I met several miles back came along after me and started making comments about how a girl could beat them to the top of this hill. What does me being a girl have to do with it?! I trained hard for that race. It made me want to work even harder

      • Thanks! I was supposed to run a half marathon next weekend but my knees are really inflamed right now and it is too painful to run. My next major goal after the STP is to do a half Iron Man.

  3. I personally know I’m not the fastest runner and never expect to win when I run/race. I do it because it makes me feel amazing after doing it, and to some extent gives me more confidence. However, I remember the first time I passed a man while running. I was training for the Divas Half while living in NYC and during one of my shorter runs, that were made ‘easy’ by the fact I was running long on the weekends, I blew by him. It was the best run EVER!! But I didnt say anything or rub it in, because I myself get passed often, and I wouldn’t want someone to do it to me. I did make it a point to tell everyone at work the next day about it though!!!

    • Great reasons to run, Amanda! I’m so happy you are doing it and liking it! I think it’s a great feeling to pass anyone on a run, male or female. And a really cool thing about running is how an easy day can be so uplifting!

  4. I can’t believe he would be so rude! That is ridiculous. I’ve been lucky and never had anyone say anything bad to me as I’ve passed them. Once I passed the overall mens leader in a very small local 4 mile race and he said jokingly “Go ahead, pass me and break my heart!” It was meant to be funny and made me smile. Sorry you dealt with Grumps!

    • Haha, the “break my heart” comment was cute! Yes, the overwhelming majority of dudes are super supportive. I guess it’s just like most people. The majority are good, but there are always some grumpy ones. :)

  5. I’ve done the back and forth with guys too… it’s funny either it bothers them and they get all competitive or they are really supportive and congratulatory. I’ve had more men than women tell me good job and cheer me on during a race actually. Which is interesting…

    and I’ve had more women snub me on a run when I say hi or wave than men too.. it’s kinda interesting to think about it actually… hmmm.

    • Yes, that is interesting. I say hi to everyone I pass… and that’s how all the runners used to be, but more and more I find it’s becoming less common to wave, smile, say hi when you pass someone on a run.

  6. I did a semester of ROTC my sophomore year of college, and we had a 3-mile casual “race” that fall. A bunch of the Marine Corps Staff Sergeants were in the race, and at the start, they were all talking about how their only goal was to beat me.

    Well, of course, that only motivated me more. One of them beat me, but the guy in 2nd and I stayed side by side the whole time, up until the last 1/2 mile when I started an early kick.

    A girl was walking ahead of us on our trail, and I mustered up an “Excuse me” despite being breathless. Later, he told me that hearing me talk when he could hardly breathe was when he mentally gave up, and I was able to beat him pretty easily. Later his wife told me that he had told his kids that it would take a bullet for a girl to beat him – I still can’t help but smile when I think about that story!

  7. No – I’ve gotten passed a ton. And I’ve occasionally passed some people. Back in my crowd, the non local elite, there are so many of us, I take it as nothing personal – you just want to get to the finish asap.

  8. In general, I hate the dance of passing someone, then they pass you, then you pass them, etc. Todd thinks I’m a bit neurotic, I think, about my “runner etiquette” but unless I’m confident I can pass someone and keep going, I stay behind them until I I feel the dance won’t happen.

    • In training I will oftentimes do the same thing, especially if I’m turning off the path soon. In races I usually pass people just to keep things interesting and keep my mind focused on the race. If I don’t go after someone when racing, I end up running a lot slower and feel worse!

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