Ask Mr. Exercise Etiquette

Here is a little more from yesterday's reprint. Dear Mr. Exercise Etiquette: During my last 5k, my nose ran horribly and at times I found myself needing to spit or blow my nose, but it seems horribly rude. Is spitting acceptable? Need I really carry tissues with me when I run?

Signed, Spittin’ Sally

Dear Sally:Certain rules of etiquette that apply under normal circumstances are suspended while running. (No, this does not mean that you may wear white pants when running after Labor Day.) Spitting is acceptable, but only if you adhere to certain regulations. If others are around, please move to the side of the roadway before expectorating. Make sure that no one is directly behind you, and take the wind direction into consideration. Then spit away from the crowd and down. Not out, not up, not back – down. Once you have mastered this, you may move on to a more advanced technique, technically known as the Farmer Blow. To perform this maneuver, hold one nostril, point your nose downward, and blow. Remember, once the race is over, standard rules of etiquette are reinstated. Do not perform the Farmer Blow over your post-race breakfast if you plan on returning to the restaurant any time soon.

Dear Mr. Exercise Etiquette: When I go to the gym, this one guy (I like to call him Gym Jerk) monopolizes the bench press and I have to wait forever just to do a couple of sets. Short of putting Crisco on the bar, is there anyway for me to get rid of him?

Signed, Lotta Liftin’

Dear Lotta: The commonly accepted practice in the weight room is to “work in”, or share a piece of equipment. This allows you to lift while Mr. Jerk is resting between sets, and vice versa. Be sure to wait until he has finished his set before asking. Storming over to him mid-set would be a major fitness faux pas on your part. If 3-4 people are already working in, you may need to wait, but otherwise you’ll be fine. Don’t worry if you’re not using the same amount of weight as the others, it’s not unreasonable to add or remove a couple of plates if need be. Remember to extend the same courtesy to someone if they ask to work in with you, and for extra politeness points, help them strip or load the bar.

Dear Mr. Exercise Etiquette: What’s with all the noise in the weight room? Maybe there is a legitimate reason for this, but it seems like a lot of unnecessary clamor. Is it me?

Signed, Aurally Assaulted

Dear AA: It’s not you. Usually the noise is generated by the attention starved guys who scream, grunt and generally sound like a cross between Tarzan and Monica Seles when they lift. The truth is that all that noise doesn’t do a bit of good in helping them move the weight, but it does call attention to the offender, which is usually their objective. One of Mr. Etiquette’s favorite gyms posted a sign that said “more lifting, less grunting” to give the noisemakers a less-than-subtle hint. The best recourse is to silently and calmly perform the same exercise and set a good example.

Dear Mr. Exercise Etiquette:Every time I’m out for a training ride – even an easy one - my buddy tries to turn it into a race. I like to compete – but not at every workout. How do you get him to chill?

Signed, Passive Pat

Dear PP: One of the great things about bike racing is that there are tons of opportunities to race each season. Smart riders know the difference between training and racing. Your insecure pal is probably the same guy who sprints up a hill to pass some poor slob who’s in the middle of a three hour training ride and then pats himself on the back for doing so. Or worse, he’s the one who speeds up because his fragile male ego gets bruised every time he’s passed by a woman. Your best strategy is to tell your training partner your agenda before you ride. Explain that there’s a purpose to your training (maybe you’re aiming to stay within a certain heart rate zone, or recover before a real race) and that you need to stick to your plan. People are usually far more reasonable if you talk to them before the competitive juices start flowing. Let him know about some of the races you have planned in the near future, so that he has an outlet for his gung ho attitude. No matter what, don’t deviate from your training plan because of what he does.