The runner’s nod (and a winner)

On my run yesterday, I unexpectedly ran into a fellow board member from my running club. We were passing on the pathway and both broke into big grins and shouted hello to each other. It kept the grin on my face for the next few minutes.

A bit later, I passed another runner, a stranger. When I smiled and said “good morning” to her, I got no response. My grin? Kind of gone. This is one of my pet peeves. When you pass another runner and they smile or say hello, how about a response?

I get that other runners might be in the midst of a speed set and working hard, but still–I think we can all extend common courtesy out there, can’t we? Even if I’m sweating it out at tempo pace, I can manage a nod. I don’t care if you’re faster than me, slower than me, or about the same, we share a common bond. To me, smiling in acknowledgment to a fellow runner is just part of the package.

What do you guys think? Are you a waver/nodder, or would you rather be left alone out there?

If you entered my giveaway for Chris Cooper’s “Long May You Run,” picked number 61, which is Kate of SuperKate. Congrats Kate! Email me at and we’ll get you all set up. If you didn’t win and would still like the book, go to Chris’s web site here.

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  1. Emily says

    I have a rule to say hello to everyone I pass and usually come pretty close to meeting that. I do it for two reasons – one, to be friendly amd polite and, two, if anything should happen to me, hopefully, someone would remember seeing me. Where I live in DC, I find runners are generally pretty good about a “hi” back when I say hello. I put it at about 75%. It is the dog walkers that annoy me as only 20% or so will say hello back, even when we are on the path in the park and it is clear my “good morning” is just for them.

  2. says

    i agree. even when i’m in a workout-run i still attempt to nod or “wave” (flop) my hand at someone. i don’t understand the non-wavers/acknowledgers… i guess i usually chalk it up to them being wrapped up in their thoughts, try to give them the benefit of the doubt. josh gets mad b/c they didn’t acknowledge him back.
    lindsay recently posted..gone goofy, againMy Profile

  3. says

    I usually try to make eye contact and go from there. I notice some folks will purposely avoid eye contact as they pass you – I usually take that as a sign they are not going to say “hi” or anything.

    I dont’ really get offended if they don’t say anything or avoid me because they are complete strangers. I would be more offended if it was someone I knew who did that!
    Holly recently posted..Is Sitting Really Killing Us?My Profile

  4. says

    I always smile and say hello or hi. I’m not offended if they don’t say hello back some sort of acknowledgement is nice. Sometimes I pass walkers and say hello and they just stare at me like I’m a crazy person, that kind of boggles my mind. Not looking at me is one thing but staring at me and still refusing to say hello back is weird.
    abbi recently posted..Recipe: Korean Food, Tony Horton, Cold, WindMy Profile

  5. says

    I think getting a return nod also depends on the general culture and running culture of a place. I live in a pretty typical college town in the Midwest where people are known for being generally friendly. Most of the runners I encounter say hi or at least nod, but some don’t. When I lived in a bigger city, I encountered a lot more people who didn’t greet others out on the trail. I like the nodding and hellos, but I try not to get offended if I don’t get one in return. If I see someone else out shopping for shoes or buying wine, I don’t expect a greeting, yet I enjoy those things too. It’s strange when I think about it like that that I do try to greet all the other runners I see.
    Raquelita recently posted..Thursday Threads: Photography Fail in the StacksMy Profile

  6. says

    Honestly I know I have ignored waves accidentally before. I know because people have told me! I can’t see very well, and I perpetually have fogged and sweaty glasses, and once or twice I’ve passed my own husband in the park without a wave. But I think in the park most people don’t wave unless they know you – there are just too many runners. Out on the road or a less-frequented area, I wave or nod. And if it’s nasty weather and only a few brave souls are out, I always comment on how hard-core we are!
    Gracie recently posted..My thoughts on taperMy Profile

  7. says

    I try to nod or say hello when I go past another runner/walker. It depends on how intense my workout is right at that moment. I totally hate it when they don’t make eye contact – at least acknowledge you saw me! I mean really – what if you were quizzed later about who you saw on the trail and couldn’t tell them. I saw no one. Yeah, not a good answer.
    lauriewalksfast recently posted..ConfessionsMy Profile

  8. says

    I always say hi to everybody on runs whether it’s walkers, runners, cyclists, whatever. I’ve noticed a geographical aspect to this. In NYC on my Central park Runs NOBODY responded. Here, most do. In FL everyone does. Don’t let it bother you.
    Teamarcia recently posted..Dogs Gone WildMy Profile

  9. Leslie says

    I have found that morning runners are much more sociable than evening runners. I always make eye contact and attempt, at least, a head nod and small wave of acknowledgement, but more often a smile and a hello. Those I pass in the mornings usually respond with a cheerful “good morning!” but evening runners will rarely even look up.

  10. says

    Greetings from a “southern gal” yes, I speak to almost everyone I pass, unless I’m deep in conversation with a running partner. (I’ve always wondered what’s up with bikers – they RARELY speak. is this a biker rule or something?????)
    Ginny recently posted..HOUSTON….we have NO problems!My Profile

  11. says

    This is a pet peeve of mine too! I always greet runners and walkers when I’m out – I like to acknowledge their effort (especially on these brutally cold days of late). I would say 80 – 90% respond in some manner. I think especially when you see the same faces out there each week that it’s rude not to acknowledge in some way.
    Michelle @ Running with Attitude recently posted..Week 5 – Time to Step BackMy Profile

  12. says

    I’m a nodder. I don’t always fully smile and if I’m in the midst of a fast stride I don’t try to say “hello” because it might come out as a cross between a bark and a gag. But I think the casual nod says just enough, like, “we’re cool cuz we’re out here workin’ hard, and everyone else is lame.”
    Jen recently posted..Tuesday Night Spin – some like it loudMy Profile

  13. says

    Congrats to Kate for being the winner of the book.

    I feel the same way you do MissZippy. It pisses me off when I dont get some kind of response. It is just common courtesy as a runner .

  14. says

    I am a good morning, hand wave and an occasional high fiver when I run. I love to see people out there working on their fitness. I can’t help it, I want to high five them all.
    I also grew up in a really small town and you wave to everyone, even in a car. haha
    It took me a bit to out grow that once we moved into a big city but I still think it is nice to acknowledge someone you are passing, it just seems right.
    When I say hi to someone and they don’t respond, unless they have ear buds in, I get bummed. Why so rude? I don’t get it. Maybe it is a safety issue? I don’t know.
    Missy recently posted..Weirdness WednesdayMy Profile

  15. says

    I am a waver … and I do get annoyed when I get no response. I actually like to run on a trail which has lots of running and biking traffic. I figure I have a 90% wave back rate among runners, and a 2% nod back from bikers. Now I know it may be harder for bikers to wave, but they could at least acknowledge. Sheesh.

    Also, Miss Z, since we are so close, I wanted to share with you a discount code for Zooma on June 2:
    Online Registration:
    Discount Code: ANNCON1
    You will get $10 off the half marathon with the anncon1 code. You can share with your readers. I am going to do a full write up about the race on my blog soon. Wine and massage at the finish line? I’m so in.
    Mara @Big Happy Family recently posted..Grace persistsMy Profile

  16. says

    That Kate is always so lucky! LOL I usually do a wave or nod because verbal is often hard for me if I’m actually running. Sometimes I say “hi” or “hey” and “Good morning” if I’m walking. Rare that I don’t acknowledge them in some fashion.
    Christina recently posted..Climbing those….poles???My Profile

  17. says

    I get a little irritated with the unfriendly runners, especially the ones who intentionally avoid eye contact with you so that they do not have to speak to you. I always try to be friendly since I see lots of the same faces on a regular basis.

  18. says

    I always try to nod at least. As far as I know, we are not engaged in some grudge match or race. I remember the unfriendly folks out there and always makes me peeved. Now if someone is really flying, and obviously pushing hard, I understand, but just your average runner, we are all in this together. For the scowlers out there, Lighten up, Francis.

  19. Lori Connors says

    Love this post! My friend, Michelle, and I run at 5 am a couple days a week. There are other regulars at that time too. We always wave and say good morning and get no response from 25% of the other runners. Good grief….if we are all out there at that time of the morning can’t we at least acknowledge one another??

  20. says

    Ok. This is my opinion on this subject. If you are in a crowded area – say Central Park – where there are hundreds of people running/walking, then waving and saying hello to every person is a little ridiculous. I mean, you’d literally spend the whole run with your hand up or just bobbing your head.
    BUT, if you are on a road less traveled – and it’s JUST you and them – then I find it extremely rude to not even acknowledge their existence. I’m a fan of either the hand up / hand down or a slight smile and “good morning”. I get irritated when some just look at me as though I’m doing something so wrong.
    It’s basic manners in my opinion.
    (sorry – just one of my biggest pet peeves as well)
    Michele @ nycrunningmama recently posted..NFC Championship ChallengeMy Profile

  21. says

    There’s no reason not to nod or wave at least, unless you’re just a jerk. I’m not the most social person in the world, but I acknowledge my fellow person, runner or not. You are part of a community. My favorite recent example of greeting fellow runners was along my new neighborhood route. I was on one side of the biggest road in Akron (four lanes at that point), and two runners were overtaking me on the other side. We shouted hello and waved across the din of traffic. There was no reason not to. Cheers!
    Viper recently posted..Blow Wind BlowMy Profile

  22. says

    Oh, absolutely, I’m a social runner! Love to say hi! If I don’t get a reply and I see him or her again down the road they get an extra big hi … can’t help myself. Honestly, how hard can you be working if you can’t even give a small grin or nod of acknowledgement???
    Kathy Reed recently posted..Houston Marathon RecapMy Profile

  23. says

    I am a huge fan of the runner’s nod, but agree with Raquelita above — the frequency of such a thing happening entirely depends on where you’re running.

    On the west coast (San Diego, Seattle) I found that there was a 50/50 chance of greetings between runners. In the Southeastern states (like FL, GA, LA) even non-runners wave and say “good morning!” In London, I found that everyone looked AWAY from one another as they passed. Geez!
    Beth (i run like a girl) recently posted..Thursday thanks and race-day goalsMy Profile

  24. says

    Waver, head nodder, finger lifter, smiler all the way, right here. I’m from Alabama so here it makes sense whether you are running or not. Everyone waves to everyone! The same is true for the motorcycle world as well. My husband motor-bikes, and they always wave to each other when they pass on the road. I love that part of sharing a hobby with stranger and just acknowledging the solidarity of that shared hobby.
    Yo Momma Runs recently posted..Elements of a dream playlistMy Profile

  25. Rene' Whiteley says

    I wave to everyone, just a quick little hand up, but why not? I am with you Ms. Zippy, I hate when people don’t wave, nod or even say hello. It take all of one second to have good manners.

  26. says

    Nothing drives me crazier in the world. Acknowledge my existence is all I ask. I’m acknowledging that you exist is it so f’n hard to do the same?

    What are you training for the olympics? I mean you are a runner just like me so f’n nod, wave or God forbid SAY HELLO, GOOD MORNING anything…..I don’t care what it is just something.

    Obviously I get enraged about this.
    Jason @ Cook Train Eat Race recently posted..NFL Championship Sunday PredictionsMy Profile

    • Jason B. says

      Totally agree. Drives me nuts when someone can’t show a bit of common courtesy and return a greeting to a fellow runner. I find most guys say hello, while only about half of women do. I guess they think we are all rapists and pervs. Who knows?

  27. says

    I am like you. I do say hello and or wave to everyone, walkers, runners, unless they are the creepy guy from a couple weeks ago walking with his hands in his pants..than I speed up….

    It does bother me when runners dont respond. Usually the kind who dont are male and they “look” like they are way better than me, I am sure they ARE, and that I am not worthy of them saying hello to me. Maybe it is in my head, I dont know.
    Caroline recently posted..Not too many words WednesdayMy Profile

  28. says

    In the small town where our marina is located, EVERYONE nods, smiles or says hello as you pass by them on the street… not just runners.

    In the city, people look at you like you are crazy if you say hello them as you pass on the street, so I do keep it to just runners while I am running, for the most part. And no, not all of them acknowledge or return the greeting. I think it is kinda rude, but don’t really give it a second thought.

    But if it is someone you know, that is just RUDE!
    Elle recently posted..Snow and YogurtMy Profile

  29. says

    I wave to everyone I pass when running, regardless of what I’m doing or what kind of mood I’m in. Usually get some kind of acknowledgement, but also get the blank stare at times. When that happens I just hope I’m planting the seed for them to be more friendly the next tim.
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  30. says

    This has definitely happened to me. How hard is it to give a slight nod or a half grin? I will admit that when I go on a really long run along the coast I pass hundreds of people throughout those 20 miles and it would be exhausting to wave or nod to every single one. So instead, I simply respond if someone else says hi, nods, or smiles.
    Kate @ Run with Kate recently posted..Trust the Plan. Resist Temptation.My Profile

  31. says

    This post is right up my ally!! I don’t know if this is because I am from Maui and we wave &/or smile at everyone, if it’s the Aloha Spirit in me, or a personality thing! In general, I am a very happy person and one of my nicknames is “smiley” — In my everyday life, if I make eye contact with someone I will smile &/or nod… Sooooooo, when that is not returned, my smile almost instantly fades and I can’t help being butt hurt. I honestly don’t know how someone could leave a smile/nod/acknowledgement hanging. I understand some people are in his or her own world, but this is definitely a rant I’ll vent on twitter about when it happens!!

  32. says

    i am a waver and a nodder but have found myself giving up on it lately because I get snubbed so often that it’s disheartening…

    However, I still nod/smile/say hello to walkers or other people.

    It’s a pet peeve of mine too – whatever happened to common courtesy?
    Jen recently posted..DNF and the success of "failure"My Profile

  33. says

    Great post, haha Generally I’m always a nodder to other runners out there, if they acknowledge me as I’m running. Sometimes I full on wave at people, if they seem super friendly. It is sort of a on the spot decision. But generally I at least nod at people if they seem like they want a response…
    Nelly recently posted..Fiesta Bowl weekendMy Profile

  34. says

    I’m totally a wave and smile person…and it does bother me just a bit when I get ignored. :( Oh well, those folks are likely to ignore most people most of the time – sadness.
    Andrea recently posted..Winter AgainMy Profile

  35. says

    Running in some of the wilder parts of Yorkshire I see very few people on my runs, so tend to smile and say “Hi” to all of them whether they’re runners, or not. Most respond likewise – but not all of them. I wonder why some of them ever set foot in the countryside if it makes them as miserable as they look?
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  36. says

    I’ll usually say “good morning” to everyone that I pass, unless they’re wearing headphones. If they’re wearing headphones they clearly are tuning people out and about 90% of them don’t respond to me, so I just don’t bother.

    The bad thing is that I say “good morning”. That means that I STILL say good morning even if it’s not morning. Which I’m sure people think is weird.
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  37. says

    I usually say some version of “Hi.” If I’m really tired a nod. I usually figure they are too out of breath to respond…or I am just running so fast I don’t hear their reply. đŸ˜‰
    shelly recently posted..Tearing DownMy Profile

  38. says

    Yes I feel the same way! A smile, nod or shout out can add pep to your step so why not offer that another! Running is a bonding experience…I am still waiting for the secret handshake to come out! I would stop to do it! :)
    Harmony recently posted..Warrior GiveawayMy Profile

  39. says

    running or walking, I always at least do a head nod or smile. Comically me and an older man were running the same street up and down up and down (its exactly 1k) and we passed each other over and over and over again, each time a nod and a smile, I liked it and found it inspiring, I didn’t want to stop running until he did, so I ran further.
    Nadine recently posted..3.5 Virtual RaceMy Profile

  40. says

    big waver/nodder here!! On a rough run last weekend I spotted a running couple ACROSS a wide busy highway and we both gave a wave and nod and I had a smile on my face for the next block. I needed someone who ‘got it’ at that moment. I love (most) of the running community! :)

  41. says

    I wave, nod, say hello etc…it just depends on how tired I am to which greeting you get….

    I try not to let it bother me if someone doesn’t reply… you just never know what someone else might be going through… and I hope they will find happiness and get past whatever struggle they might be having. maybe by my kindness towards them will make their day a little brighter.
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  42. says

    Agreed – just a wave is fine. You don’t have to say hi, but a friendly wave is nice. I don’t know why people are like that. I see this at work too, I walk past people and they just wont look at me or smile. Its not like I am asking for a full conversation!
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  43. says

    It really doesn’t bother me. We are both runners, and share a common bond, but so do drivers, and you know how that goes. I remember, my grandparents say that in there day, motorist would wave to each other, and now, not so much. Maybe the same thing has happened with runners? As more rude people populate the earth, the less waves and nods we will get. BUT……..I wave or nod to other runners regardless. Very nice post…..shared link on FB.
    Kenley Jones recently posted..To Sleep or to Run?My Profile

  44. says

    There’s an old guy who always walks through our speed session on Tuesdays and even though we can’t talk we can always lift a hand and smile. A little kindness and humanity costs nothing.
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  45. Colleen says

    I ALWAYS say hi to runners when I’m out. And bikers. And walkers. And I get so annoyed when people don’t acknowledge me. I understand that sometimes you are in a zone or whatever, but just a simple smile back would work. Ugh… so frustrating!

  46. says

    If I’m running easy, I’ll speak. If I’m running hard, I’ll do a little hand wave. Two reasons, why not be nice? And I read once that it’s a good idea to make eye contact. That way if, heaven forbid, something happens, maybe someone will remember you and any details.
    Mostly to be nice! :0)
    That Pink Girl recently posted..Snowflake Pants & the Big PictureMy Profile

  47. says

    On Saturday mornings I’ll say good morning to the first couple runners and then after that I may nod, or wave but I don’t always make a point of it. One of the reasons is where I run it’s a major canal with lots of runners and I’d be saying good morning non-stop. Sometimes people are just so much into their own thing listening to their music they don’t notice you or make eye contact.
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