Why, Smokers, Must You Sap Me of my Oxygen

I really don’t like smokers. Actually, that is unfair as my boyfriend remains a smoker, as are two of my colleagues at work and I like all of them very much (particularly my boyfriend). So let me rephrase that – when I am running, I get really annoyed with smokers who don’t seem to realise that I need all of the oxygen I can get.

I frequently run along the Thames river path – a glorious pathway which follows the river as it meanders all the way to the Tower of London (although that is a 19 mile distance away so I tend not to run quite that far). Because of the beauty of the scenery and quality of the path, I often share it with walkers, families, dogs, children, prams, bikes and other runners.

And smokers.

It always amazes me – when you are out doing something healthy like walking along the river, accompanied by ducks and the sound of lapping waves, why would you want to pollute the air by blowing cigarette smoke into it? Or, more importantly – why would you want to pollute everyone else’s air? Especially mine!

Picture this – you see a group walking up ahead. You know that you are going to have to duck around one side or the other of them (as they are straddling the width of the entire path) and you try and judge whether you would prefer to run through the hedge or almost fall into the river. You make your decision, call out ‘coming through’ as you contort your body so the hedge doesn’t remove an eye, and you are met with a lungful of cigarette smoke as the person nearest you waits until that very moment to exhale all of their toxic fumes. Don’t they realise how unpleasant it is? I’ve already had to weave around wafts of it as I was approaching you. The last thing I want is a lung full of it. I find that my face screws up naturally as I make all attempts to stop breathing for long enough for the unpleasant odour to pass. And more often than not, the smoker is blissfully unaware of my discomfort, my faltering steps and my facial expression which would turn milk sour as they take another long drag.

Really, running is an exercise that requires air – plenty of it. Anything that impedes that flow of clean air makes the whole experience a lot more difficult to deal with. Generally, if it is getting towards the end of a run, I need all the oxygen I can get. Your inconsiderate exhalation makes my run to my imaginary finish line momentarily harder. Thanks – I can put myself through enough torture. I don’t need you to make it worse.

I try to understand – I mean, in Britain now it is illegal to smoke inside any public place, and inside is defined as anything with a minimum of three walls. So it means that in order to get their fix of tar, they have to go outside. But don’t they realise that I am running because I don’t smoke and have no desire to start.

So that’s my rant. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so harsh on the poor smokers. I mean, they aren’t solely to blame for the depletion of clean air and oxygen so necessary to the average runner. Don’t get me started on the men and women who think that dousing themselves in perfume or aftershave is a great idea before a run, or worse, those people allergic to deoderant and clothes washing…

But that is probably another (even more unpleasant) story for another time.

Thank you hegarty_david for the image

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