There are many uncomfortable things that can happen while you’re out running – needing to use the bathroom, chafing, the weather being miserable, etc. not to mention the outside influences like getting honked or yelled at. I consider honking to among the worst.
The definition of running is that both feet leave the ground during your stride. This is the differentiation between walking and running. Meet officials at race walking events are constantly scrutinizing the stride of the competitors to make sure they always have one foot on the ground. So – while you’re running – there is a moment where your entire body is suspended in the air for each stride. Unless you’re purposefully bounding, you probably don’t even notice this.
You immediately notice when you get honked at, though. Imagine going from a casual stride to a jolted painful one. That’s what getting startled in mid-air does to your form. I’m not expecting to be honked at. All of the other drivers have managed to drive past without honking, so I expect that pattern of behavior to hold.
When someone honks at me, it feels like every muscle in my body contracts simultaneously for a split second. It’s impossible for me to continue running smoothly once I land for my next stride, and the jolt of adrenaline speeds up my heart rate and makes me more out of breath than I already am. Multiple honks are even worse. Even though the shock/jolt lessens with each one, it’s still like being zapped over and over.
To know when it’s acceptable to honk at a runner, I made this helpful chart.