Runners Etiquette


I don’t know if any of you have seen the movie Borat, with actor Sacha Baron Cohen, but there is one scene in that movie that I always remember and laugh about. That is the scene where Borat is at a refined southern home for a dinner, and manners are being explained to him. Surely, Borat goes about and beyond to “learn” the manners explained to him but when the time for him to go to the restroom arrives, he actually poops in a bag and brings it to the dinner table. The people at the gathering are grossed out and cannot believe that he would do something like that. That is however, all that Borat knows, and he did the only thing he knew how to do. The hosts did not like that as it was a violation of the etiquette followed at fancy dinner parties. But for Borat, that was common practice at the dinner table.
As runners, we are an interesting group to say the least. The truth is that we are a happy group of people. Running is something that releases endorphins and thus makes us happy friendly and satisfied emotionally. So why did I mention the scene relating to etiquette in the Movie Borat? The answer is that as runners we have expectations. We are a group of people from, different nations, cultures and traditions who appreciate the benefit of distance running. Some of us do it for competition, some for fun, some simply for fitness. The one thing we share is that we all run and get the same benefits from running, both physically and mentally. The question asked is, whether a common etiquette for runners exists.
During my six mile run yesterday I did not see many people on the trail. Yes, it was cold as heck and many people simply stay indoors and sedentary when its cold. There was one couple I Passed, not runners, but it was in my nature to wish them a happy new year. They said it back to me but, I think they were surprised that I even spoke to them.
When I run, I always wave at other runners passing by, I think it is in my soul as a runner. Most people over they years have waved back, but there are those who don’t waive and give a nasty look. I usually just give a simple wave by raising my arm a bit, not a crazy wave, just enough to say hi.
I have had runners come up to me and start conversations, and they have indeed been the best conversations I have had. I have had other runners try to convert me to their religions, which I have amicably and diplomatically turned away. And then there are those who simply pass you up, ignore your wave and think they are better runners. Just as is the case in Borat, they have their own way of thinking, similar to bringing their poop in a bag to the dinner table.
The question that arrises is, whether in deed there is a common etiquette that runners must follow. The answer is obviously no, runners don’t have to do anything. Most however have been courteous and waved at me or waved back, or at least smiled, it is an acknowledgment that we are working toward the same goal. I love when runners wave back or acknowledge my presence as a runner. I don’t ever hesitate to wave at a runner, in fact I say hello to every runner I see by waving. I have learned however, not to take it personally if a runner does not acknowledge my presence. In fact, in the cold, I really don’t see many other runners.
I love races because the camaraderie of being a runner really is evident there. I cannot wait until my next marathon, the Miami marathon, January 27, 2013, where I hope to see that feeling of belonging to a group who cares for one-another. I really do think that runners respect each other, and most do subscribe to the etiquette also known as common courtesy. Those that don’t are just asking for a lonely and cold run, so be it.
I look forward to seeing some of you on the trail, road or at a race. Good running, and please wave and acknowledge your fellow runner. Don’t be like Borat at the fancy dinner table!



15 responses »

  1. my friend Janelle and I have a theory that “real runners smile back”. The casual jogger will probably ignore you or pretend not to notice you, but a real runner, someone who has actually signed up for a race, and knows their community, they smile back at you.

    • Hi, thanks for the comment. Well, I belong to a running group that runs long runs every Saturday. So we talk during runs, it also makes time go quicker especially on those long 20 mile runs. But I have been approached by people while running alone, sometimes it’s welcome if people ask about races you are training for, etc. others such as the person pushing religion are more of an annoyance 😉 but ya, running in a group is fun! Happy new year.

  2. I run on a nature trail near my home in Florida, and on the weekend there are serious (i.e. really fast) runners, regular runners, bikers, and families all using the trail. The only ones who don’t usually wave back are the bikers. Maybe because they can’t take their hands off the bars? At least they could nod at me. But the runners and walkers almost always wave back — we’re all part of a group and recognize we have a common goal being out in the middle of nowhere on a Saturday morning.

    • I couldn’t agree more! I have had bikers wave. There is a group in our trail too of about 20-30 bikes that we see Saturday mornings in the summer, they yell “good morning” and then disappear into the trail. I think they yell not to run us over, but other bikers have almost plowed into us. Happy new year!

  3. I’d probably be one of those people who ignores you. It’s not because I am a bad person or mean spirited. It’s because you’re interrupting my mental meditation, which is really just me repeating “when is this run going to be f**king over” over and over for the entirety of my run.

  4. When I brought up a similar thought once- I had a female runner tell me she never waves back at guys. She has had guys turn around to run with her (scarey), she has had guys hit on her (like that’s what she wants when she is sweaty from running 10 miles – repeating Rob’s Mantra to herself).

    That was when I realized, maybe the non-acknowledgers aren’t being rude.. just trying to be safe.

    I still wave at people though, or say Hi..

    • Thanks for the comment. That is something to consider for sure. I am sure there are some not so nice people out there and after having an experience like that I would understand her position. Generally, I would think runners are courteous to each other, but just like in everything else – one has to keep safety in Mind.

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