Why are runners so stoney faced?

Why are runners so stoney faced?

I've realised something about running. Everybody on the road seems super unfriendly(in contrast to this online community!) In the past I have done regular cycling and hill walking and have always done a bit of a nod and a wave whilst cycling or said good morning whilst walking and people always respond in kind.

I made a plan that after graduation I would start to run the race route I will face in my first official 5k at the Edinburgh Marathon Festival. It's a popular area and I pass lots of runners as I plod round the route, probably 30 or so. Here's the thing: NO ONE EVER SMILES. What's that all about? I smile at runners going the other way, even if it's uphill and I feel like I'm about to die, it makes me feel better. Other runners don't make eye contact the majority of the time and the ones that do don't smile back. I've never experienced a group of people who are collectively miserable as sin! Or is it just that I'm too happy for normal people?

So, if you run round Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh and see some lunatic smiling at you, smile back, you'll feel better, I promise!


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35 Replies

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  • I say KEEP ON SMILING! :) :) :) :) :) :)

    I am from Sunderland and I am therefore used to having friendly people around. Down here in Yorkshire I find it disconcerting when people avert their gaze and ignore you. I usually make a point of giving a cheery 'Morning' - but they are still grumps! That's really their problem. Kill 'em wi' kindness I say!

  • I totally agree, I sometimes wind up making my smile bigger and more cheesy(not too different from my picture above) in response to someone who looks but doesn't smile!

  • And another thing I do. If I hold back to allow someone to pass and they pass without acknowledgement I will say 'The thank you was nice'

    My goodness - must mean I'm a grumpy old something!

    I usually get ok smiles from the cyclists and most other runners though.

  • Ha! I do that as well, not just when running. If I hold a door for someone and they don't say thanks I say "YOU'RE WELCOME.....oh, I'm sorry, I thought you said thanks!"

  • We must be turning into grumpy old women. Plain courtesy costs nothing - and helps oil the wheels of all of our daily grind!

    I don't know - what is the world coming to?

  • I don't think it's a case of turning into grumpy old women at all. The number of times I have held a door, given way to someone, or shown some other simple courtesy - only to be totally ignored. It is bad manners on their part and, sadly, all too frequent these days. Cheers.

  • You are so right. And you know those very small, simple courtesies really do lift the spirits for everyone.

  • I know what you mean! I run on the trails and there are some miserable b*ggers about. Don't even make eye contact as you say. Everyone else seems cheery though. A couple on bikes stopped and offered me water the other day. I must have looked on the verge of collapse. Ha ha

    Don't worry about em. You keep smiling!

  • I have the same problem down here in the Midlands, most people are just bloody miserable! I run mornings and always say hello to runners, dog walkers, random ladies at the bus stop and whathaveyou, but don't often get a response. Except the ladies at the bus stop, who are generally pretty reliable. I nod to cyclists who appear to be out training (rather than "going somewhere") and wave at runners on the other side of the street. A lot of the time it's hard to get eye contact but I just go ahead and give them a cheery " morning!" anyway - maybe it'll shame one or two of them into lightening up a bit!

  • We must be careful though not to generalise. Some people may be ploughing through a heap of rubbish in their lives and need our sympathy and consideration.

  • Good point Beek. The phrase walking (or running!) a mile in anothers shoes comes to mind.

  • I'm relentlessly cheerful... or so I thought... A while back I had one of those moments out running when I thought I recognised a cyclist, but not sure so kept going. Later I saw the fore mentioned guy at a gathering and he confirmed it was him "You should've said hello" I chided him - he replied I looked like I was in the zone, v.serious! Inside I'm smiling and will normally shout 'hello' to random runners, but I now have it confirmed that I am indeed actually poe faced... ;-) A week later our paths crossed again while run/cycling and we both shouted "Good morning!" grinning like a couple of loons :-D

    You have a great friendly smile - keep using it!

  • Oh dear - I think I am one of those miserable non smiling people! I'm pretty chipper as a person in general but I am very antisocial when I run. Your question has me wondering why though as like you, I am quite friendly when I walk and bike..

    I think for me running is really personal, almost meditative, and trying to interact with people jolts me out of the headspace that I am in when I run. I am actually the same in yoga class, I try to have as limited interaction as possible.

    I guess that may seem unfriendly but I suppose everyone comes at things from a different perspective and for me I really value the opportunity to put myself in an isolated bubble and zone out..


  • It's funny you should put it that way as I also run alone and like it that way. Every time I see something that says "you should run with other people" all I can think about is the problems that would create, different paces, conversations...other things I can't think of right now. Nope, running alone is for me! I can spare a smile though! I'm dreading this race tomorrow, all those other people going the same way at the same time!


  • I get smiles and morning here in the East Midlands.

  • Maybe its because i'm in London...

  • I was running Arthur seat early yesterday morning and always say hello to everyone I see and only a couple didn't respond and they were 2 younger girls In fact one elderly gentleman out walking said ' good for you lass' which gave this 60 yr old a wee boost and another couple said ' ooh out running are you?' Funnily when I just smile I don't get as much respond as when I speak . Or maybe if you are running later in day those you pass have just had a bad day . Anyway you just keep smiling and they might eventually catch on . That first bit up hill is a right bu** ear isn't it ! Good luck tomorrow What time do you hope to do? My aim is just to get round and NOT get picked up by sweeper bus Good luck

  • Good luck Rona...enjoy it!

  • I just loved it Beth! 36m17sec Have just posted here and on FB

  • I usually smile and get a smile back from runners and cyclists( and pedestrians) but then thats glasgow for you. I tend not to talk as I have my headphones in and I'm sared I shout!!! We shout make it a new goal C25k programme with added smiles :-)

  • It's a mixed bag in Glasgow, i run along the Kelvin. I am mixed too, i smile, maybe nod and wave sometimes. (Always at people pushing babies) and other times i avoid eye contact even. Depends on energy and confidence at the moment.

  • Being from Glasgow I would always say Edinburgh folk are grumpy :D

    I have honestly never experienced non smiling fellow runners in the 8 weeks I have been running. I am out early (5am) and my fellow early morning folk always give a nod and smile. Not many words are spoken as we are all generally plugged in but they seem a cheery bunch.

  • Hmm - there are different ways of looking at this. Firstly , all people are different. Secondly, Why do some expect/demand others to be like them? Thirdly - and probably most importantly, running can be very hard work. I am usually a very socially amenable person - I do say hello to people and smile -- but sometimes, when I am running , I am at the very edge of survival. At those times , I usually raise my hand in recognition of a fellow being -- but sometimes the act of smiling/saying Hi is just not possible.

    I mostly find that young women runners are the unfriendliest -- however there may be reasons for this which I understand.

  • It's not that I expect nor demand that everyone be like me, that would be both boring and terribly dangerous, it's that it surprises me that in my other sporting experiences the ratio of smilers to non-smilers is inverse to that in running.

    With regards to young women being the unfriendliest, I'm a woman but I'm not young and I can't say I've noticed a weighting in that statistic but the reaction a young woman has to an older woman smiling is most likely different to that which occurs when a dude is running towards her and smiling.

  • M'apologies. I miss read and thought you said "can't understand" did think that was a bit odd. Should have read twice. Ah well, nobody's perfect!

  • I smile & usually I get a friendly smile back. I have to say it makes me feel so good about my run. I've found people really friendly here. I think I'll keep at it. :) :) :)

  • I'm so with you there, I smile at EVERYONE even if I have been running for 2 hours and I'm half dead. But those hardcore running types just look right through me and you know what...now I have a little bit more confidance I just stick my finger up at them behind their back and say ( under my breath) 'W*****' Its so good to smile :)

  • That made me smile. My Mum wouldn't approve even though she taught my daughter some choice words but you made me smile.

  • I'm tolerant of almost everything but ignorance and unnecessary being miserable, I can't. I say hello/good morning to passing pedestrians, dog walkers, fellow joggers and anyone really. I nod/ raise my water bottle to motorcyclists and bicyclists too and also to passing members of the constabulary, as I did this morning. Good manners and common decency cost nothing and when I run early in the morning, it's nice to encounter a friendly person; I always greet folk in some way if I can. Always with a breathless smile too!

  • Tee hee, thank you, Kitty! If I'm still able to run by then, however slowly, I'll be extremely happy!

  • I too smile at traffic, not just motorcyclists, anyone making eye contact!

  • Ah, I'm a bit biased toward motorcyclists as I am one too, (though they probably wonder who the brightly dressed running loon nodding and waving at them is!) but I will greet anyone really who, as you say, makes eye contact. Some people seem a bit uncomfortable with it, I've found and either don't respond or mumble and don't look at me, but meh, I'll still greet them!

  • I always try to make eye contact with fellow walkers, runners (though I'm not that yet!!), etc and generally get a smile or hello in return. However, the ones who remain stony faced are the serious, experienced runners. Then I feel like running like Phoebe on Friends just to annoy them! Lol

  • 'So, if you run round Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh and see some lunatic smiling at you, smile back, you'll feel better, I promise!'

    Everyone who runs around Arthur's Seat is a complete lunatic. It is just total sadistical punishment, there is nothing to smile about running up somewhere which requires the assistance of a pickaxe to get to a summit that is always moving away from you.

    Run along the flat seafront at Leith the same people will be far more friendly.

  • You are completely right; some runners are what is known as "right miserable buggers". And it really annoys me. You can tell as they approach you when they're going to blank you so I make a point of SHOUTING "good morning" at them, and if they still blank me they get something less cheery. Well, it makes me feel better. And I do make a point of being cheerful and always responding when someone says anything to me.

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