The Cyberdroid Robo-Runner 2000
HOW TO SPOT ONE: Draped in enough cutting-edge tech to control a NASA probe, the Cybernetic Robo-Runner is intent on gathering more data about their twice-weekly run that you'd think might be necessary for anyone who's not about to be called up for the Olympics.
They're a sprinting robot from the future, on the run from evil space-cops!
They've got a heart-rate monitor strapped across their chest, which transmits data to a fitness tracker on their wrist, which Bluetooths stats to the phone on their arm, which streams training instructions to their wireless GPS headphones... and they're loving it. They're a sprinting robot from the future, on the run from evil space-cops! Pew pew! Zzzap!
If they could get their trainers to talk in a KITT-off-Knight-Rider voice, they totally would.
HOW TO DRIVE THEM MENTAL: Hide their chargers (all 12 of them).
HOW TO SPOT ONE: Their facial expression suggests they're struggling with both clinical depression and physical agony of childbirth proportions. Their every plodding stride seems to demand superhuman levels of willpower to execute.
Please, somebody stop them
They don't just find running a challenge – they actively haaaate it. Intensely and palpably, as if running were a person and it just burned their flat down and then shat all over their shoes for good measure.
Why, then, do they persist? Why don't they find some other way of staying fit, perhaps with an activity that doesn't fill their brain with murder and swastikas and weeping? Please, somebody stop them. It's too heart-rending to watch.
See also: the Hungover Runner. They thought they could escape their booze-induced waking nightmare by running it off – they were wrong. Horribly, queasily, sorrowfully wrong.
HOW TO DRIVE THEM MENTAL: Holler at them from across the street, “Cheer up maaaate, might never 'appen!"
The Hardcore Grizzled Veteran
HOW TO SPOT ONE: They've been running marathons since the '50s, and although they're fitter than a cheetah, you wouldn't know it from their emaciated body, which looks like it can barely hold up the miniscule shorts, tatty vest, threadbare headband and inexplicable gloves that comprise the Hardcore Grizzled Veteran's uniform.
Their gait makes them look as if they're drunk and fighting off imaginary ghosts
The Hardcore Grizzled Veteran moves with a bizarre, hypnotic gait that makes them look as if they're drunk and fighting off imaginary ghosts. This running style was beaten into them by a psychotic PE master during hellish cross-country lessons at a bleak Norfolk boarding school, and although it's intrinsically linked to some deeply traumatic childhood memories, it has earned them 12 sub-three-hour marathons, sooo... yeah. Swings and roundabouts.
HOW TO DRIVE THEM MENTAL: Suggest they upgrade their trainers (in use since 1998, held together with masking tape, barely 3mm of sole left).
The Catwalk Runner
HOW TO SPOT ONE: Sporting the very chic-est in lux athleisure – including a pair of Alexander Wang X Rihanna leggings that cost £213 in a fevered eBay bidding war – the Catwalk Runner is of the opinion that if nobody sees you out for a run, it didn't really happen.
If nobody sees you out for a run, it didn't really happen
Every single part of their get-up is studiously coordinated, from their 'adidas by Stella McCartney' trainers to their limited-edition Monreal London energy gels (which are kind of surplus to requirements, as they're only doing a 2k circuit of the city centre during their lunch break).
Once they become a parent, the Catwalk Runner will graduate to a Pram Speeder, hurtling their startled offspring around the streets in a 5ft-tall Swedish pram called a Bäböoschfnaffn.
HOW TO DRIVE THEM MENTAL: Tell them you love their "funky" vest, ask if they got it from Sports Direct.
The Topless Bro
HOW TO SPOT ONE: Are you in a British park? Is the temperature in excess of 15°C? Then simply gaze around you a moment aaand... there. There he is – nipples out, pecs rippling, abs glazed with protein-shake-laced sweat.
Nipples out, pecs rippling, abs glazed with protein-shake-laced sweat
You'll probably observe the Topless Bro take a break from running to perform some (admittedly impressive) feats of strength: chin-ups on the swings, clapping press-ups by the duck pond. But then he leaps back to his feet, subtly employs his peripheral vision to double-check that the entire park is gazing wistfully at him (which they are, despite themselves), and gallops off again, high-fiveing himself in his mind.
HOW TO DRIVE THEM MENTAL: Ask him if he even lifts, bro.
The Virginal Super-Noob
HOW TO SPOT ONE: They've been fixating on the idea for weeks, and goddammit, tonight's the night – the Virginal Super-Noob is heading out for their first-ever run.
Combat shorts, a 2003 Reading Festival T-shirt and a pair of H&M deck shoes
Under the cover of darkness, praying the neighbours don't see them, they hit the pavement sporting the best approximation of running wear they can cobble together: combat shorts, a 2003 Reading Festival T-shirt and a pair of H&M deck shoes. If they bump into anyone they know (nooo!), the plan is to slow from a jog to a stroll, while unconvincingly announcing they were simply rushing to the offie before it shut.
They'll be able to laugh about it in a week when they finally get the hang of things and invest in some proper kit, but right now – huffing twice around the block, temples throbbing, legs screaming – running doesn't feel very funny at all.
HOW TO DRIVE THEM MENTAL: Don't, basically. That was you, once. Yeah it was.