I F*ing Hate Your Phone

race selfie
Faces redacted to not embarrass anyone who was dumb enough to do this and anyone who was awesome enough to stare rage-lasers into the back of her head.

You hold it in your hand with your damn headphones in your ears, because “I just can’t run without music!” You’re weaving all over the place and I’m tripping over you every time we round a corner. But you know what? I’m okay with that. I’m totally okay with you jamming along to C&C Music Factory because I get that some people really need the extra burst of joy that happens when you let the rhythm move you. And even though you can’t hear me coming and get pissed off at me when I pass you while trying to take a tangent, your headphones are relatively harmless. I don’t have to listen to your fave Hootie tracks, after all.

But then … then the unthinkable happens. You remove the phone from some crevice of your running outfit, check the screen, poke at it and say, “Hello?”

Inside, my annoyance becomes a molten lava pit of rage.

You answered your phone? YOU ANSWERED YOUR PHONE DURING A RACE??


How does that conversation even go? “Hey Julie, what are you up to?” “Oh hey girl, just racing this 5k … Hang on sorry, this loser who was trying to race just bumped into me. It’s totally her fault even though I can’t hear her trying to pass me because my headphones are in and I’m not paying attention.”

Or like … texting? During a race? I mean sure, it’s not quite as bad as texting while driving, but only because you’re not operating heavy machinery. I’m sorry to break it to you, but this whole not-smacking-into-each-other thing is a two way street, babe.

Oh, and the selfie people. Really? Really. Can’t you put away the social media for a few hours of your life and have a gahdamn experience? This is a race. Maybe try racing it. I am trying my damnedest and running as fast as I effing can, and here you come with your phone in your hand taking pictures like you’re out for a Sunday stroll. It’s not just stupid, it’s not just annoying, it’s insulting. 

Go F* your selfie.

Nine times out of ten, the race provides photographers. If you love looking at yourself so much, you can just buy a photo! It’s got to be worth the $70 if you’re willing to make that much of an ass out of yourself just to get one, right?


“May I speak to Jennifer please?”

“Speaking!” pant pant

“Hi there, I’m with Comcast. Have you considered upgrading your cable?”

“Oh you know actually, [pant pant] I was going to talk to you guys about switching to the faster Internet speed, because my husband got really into House of Cards [pant pant] so I’ve been having trouble streaming cat videos on Youtube. [pant pant] But I’m in the middle of something, [pant] can you give me the number to call you back?

“Tight spandex pants … why, what are you wearing?”

Think about how it would feel if you were seconds off your goal time and some asshat was right in front of you fiddling with her phone. You’d want to grab it out of her hands and throw it as far as you could. I want to do that. I really do. But I don’t because I have a little more respect than that for other runners at a race. Except for people on their phones, I guess, but dammit, I lost my train of thought!

Oh yeah! The real reason I don’t do it is that I’m working too hard at the thing I came to do: running my fastest possible time.

Look, you don’t have to be there for that reason, but at least be courteous. At least have some regard for the efforts of the people around you. Sure, racing is supposed to be fun, but for many of us fun is a byproduct of having an excellent performance.

So please, people. Please. Put away your f*ing phones for half an hour of your life. Or an hour. Or four. Or however long it takes you to finish the race. Pack it away in your fuel belt and save the battery so you can brag about your big PR on facebook, or text your friends to find out how they did, or take a dumb selfie biting your dumb medal, or sext with your boyfriend. I really don’t care what you do with it, as long as you’re not doing it in front of me while I’m trying to race.

Cinnamon made Salty Running, takes lots of pictures and drinks lots of coffee. By day she's a camera assistant for films and tv in New York, and by night she's on a quest for zen in the 10k. Her writing is a mix of satirical humor, finding wholeness as an average runner, cheering for runners at all paces and more.

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  1. Well, it’s a matter of taste, of course, but I’m always super interested to hear other people’s extremely urgent conversations regarding where they are, how they tried to call the other person earlier but just got voicemail, and what they need to buy at the supermarket. The best part is they usually have to kind of yell into the phone in between panting, so you get to hear all the details.

  2. Yes. Absolutely. Some guy dropped his phone at the start of a local race, then twice tried to dodge the runners to grab it. I was tackled from behind, onto pavement, while trying not to run into cell phone guy. Not pretty. Put the phone away, jerk!

  3. haha … SO true! I am not a huge racer so that part of things is only mildly annoying to me – but where I live in suburban central NY there isn’t a ton of extra room on the roads and so I have seen loads of really unsafe practices and near-misses.

    Some involving me trying to pass someone who is taking up too much room and has the music so loud I can hear it from 10 feet behind …

    One time I started scuffing my feet as I got close, normally good enough. Nothing. Then said ‘behind you’ (it was a young woman and honestly they have enough to worry about just being out running without suddenly having a guy right next to them). Nothing. ‘Passing on the right’. Nothing. Then as I passed she visibly startled, and said ‘you surprised me, let people know you’re coming’. I said ‘I did, but I could hear you music long before I caught up’ and she said ‘oh, sorry’. I half expected an ‘F U’, which would have been interesting since she went to high school with my older son and I work with her dad and would have said ‘really Miss X?’ 🙂

    Personally when I started running at 23 – which was now more than 27 years ago – there really weren’t many options, and I had no interest in lugging around a Walkman. So I never got into the habit. 27 years, thousands of runs, 10s upon 10s of thousands of miles … no music. For me, the joy of the sounds of nature and life are all I will ever need.

  4. I love this and am in total agreeance!

    I’ve got the opposite problem though. I’ve gotten people that call me during the race. My rule is that only if it’s fam and only if they call back to back. Because, to me, that means somethings wrong. And I don’t want to be the jerkface that doesn’t get to say one last “I love you” to my sickly xxx because I’m running a race.

    Nine times out of ten though it’s my mom, and the conversations go like this. “No mom, I don’t care where you parked your car. No mom, I don’t care that you’re at mile 8 because I’m at mile 10. Stop calling. Watch the livetrack dot move. I’ll see you at the finish”

  5. Unfortunately, things like the RaceJoy app are fueling this even more. For a recent race, it was the only way to get results during the race day and it was pushed to be downloaded to set up the live feed so “friends can send cheers and words of encouragement!” What happened to friends/family running from point to point with homemade signs?!?! I think the worst was a race I ran where a woman was running with her music blasting from her phone in her flip belt.

    1. Ugh. I can’t stand “RaceJoy” (for many reasons) …

      And what’s up with ppl blasting music? Even more annoying than the oblivious earbud wearers. Gah!

  6. Well, I laughed out loud. I agree with some of the “older” folks – I never once have run with music or anything in my ears. I don’t know why I’d start now. Of course, I’m one of those people that if I am suffering near the end of the race (or in the middle) and there is a really loud obnoxious band, I just want it to stop. I absolutely can see running while having your phone in a race belt or something, especially in the bigger races where it might be hand to find your friends at the end. At the same time though, I’ve never actually done it. It’s either in the checked bag or in my car, and we agree to meet somewhere specific at the end. Most large races have a designated spot.

  7. I’ll admit I’m starting to soften. I used to only listen to music when on the treadmill. Then I discovered Spotify and picked up a cheapo arm band at Five Below and wireless headphones from Amazon and all of a sudden, I’m running outside with music (occasionally or if I’m on call for work). I can’t see myself using it in races (maybe for music) but I guess I once did take a camera with me on a 5k to take pictures of my friend and me running 10+ minute pace back before we had smart phones. Most people taking selfies these days are just happy go lucky! Maybe a few have an addiction to their phone but it’s all apart of the racing experience. As technology improves, it may get better or worse but for now, I’d say it’s fun. Of course if you’re up towards the front, you likely won’t see selfies but it’s been neat to see some faster runners wearing music. Although if they are with USATF and going for prize money, they won’t get it.

  8. I don’t mind phones in general at races, but pony up the money and buy an armband for it or shove it in your spibelt. Also, turn off the speaking things or wear some headphones. I hate when I’m in races and can hear someones phone telling them we’ve gone some random distance and are running some obscure pace, both of which are usually horribly inaccurate for the course. I also agree with what Baby said above….if you HAVE to answer- let it be because family is incessantly calling and signalling something is wrong. Otherwise, if you can talk on the phone while you’re racing…you’re not racing hard enough.

  9. Wow. For a site that states in it’s About page “You’re tired of articles that focus on how you look and what you’re wearing, or that condescend to you….come as you are, not who you are supposed to be.”, this article certainly comes across as hypocritical and down right nasty. Good for you for expressing your passion and opinion and “getting Salty” as that is your right. But honestly the way this article reads comes across as hateful and judgemental; certainly not in the spirit of come as you are, not who you are supposed to be.

    Someone who does not care about phones/music but does care about the negative impact of judging others, especially in the women’s running community.

  10. Guilty as charged! I took a blurry running selfie during a marathon. Never could figure out how to take one that wasn’t blurry, and figured I should stop while I was ahead. Never answered the phone while running at least. I probably couldn’t figure out how to do that either!

  11. Guilty of rocking the headphones during a race, but the thought of attempting to have a phone conversation is hilariously awful to me. I’m always so cranky during a race that I can’t even imagine who would want to talk to me in the first place, but yeah. If you’re talking, you are NOT racing.

  12. Mr. Tea saw someone Face-timing while running yesterday. It wasn’t in a race, but still… (Although I’m not sure I’d be physically capable of doing that while running, so kudos to them?)

  13. Arrrrgggg – I haven’t experienced this during a race but always ALWAYS at the gym. I also find it incredibly rude when groups of women with double strollers take up a whole running trail. I push my single stroller and have had to go off the pavement because they couldn’t be bothered to make a little room. Oh! Or when someone stops in the middle of the trail for some reason instead of moving to the side. I could go on and on.