Running etiquette

So, I am new to all this.

When running and you come across another runner coming the other way, what should you do? Smile, say hello, or wave/salute like dog walkers do, or just pretend that the other person does not exist, like on the tube?

I have only passed someone in the opposite direction once so far, and just kept my eyes down, still embarrassed to be a novice runner who probably looks like they have no idea, but wondered afterwards if I had been rude.

What the norm?


Featured Content

Join the NHS Couch to 5K community

Couch to 5K has been designed to get you off the couch and running 5km in just 9 weeks

Start today!

Featured by HealthUnlocked

24 Replies

  • It varies,some people acknowledge with a smile and nod, but to honest this happens less than when I am on my bike and meet other cyclists, 99percent of whom give a friendly nod.

  • Great, so if I smile at other runners they won't think I am a nutter then? Or at least not for that reason.

  • I find it very hit and miss with other runners. I always try to at least smile and/or nod and will say hello if I don't have ear phones in or if I am on the tow path rather than on the city centre foot paths.

    I don't think I'm over estimating when I say at least 50% won't even make eye contact in the first place though but I live right in the city centre so that could be why? When I run on the tow path and nature reserve 90% of people; runners, walkers, joggers, cyclists, dogs, ducks & one seal! all say hello.

  • I'd say a friendly nod or a wave, but be ready for half the people ignoring you :-(

  • So true unfortunately!! :(

  • I've only run outside twice so far and was a little shocked at being blanked by other runners even though I tried to make eye contact and smile. Obviously not C25K runners!

  • They must be a particularly friendly bunch round my way (wouldn't have thought that pre-running days!) I was horrified on one of my first runs in public to be high fived by a runner in the opposite direction - I've seen him a couple more times now and it makes me smile rather than shocked now! I've had a pensioner couple applauding me (rather patronising?! clearly don't look like I should be out there!) and my proudest had to be when a family on their bikes were coming towards me & I heard the father say "move over and make room for the runner" me?? who'd have thought it!

    I run on my own and I find other solo people usually smile, people in pairs or groups - much less so. I always try to say hello despite being too out of breath usually or embarrassed to be as red as I am!

  • Runners always say hello to each other around here. There's one woman that I see on a regular basis who does a similar route to me but the opposite way around. There is a loop of single track roads just outside my village which is popular with runners and dog walkers. Also because it's a village anyone that passes each other in the street says hello to each other. Quite often I get told I am mad by people out to get their morning paper :D

    I guess it depends where you live.

  • It varies hugely but I've now been running so long in the same area I recognise many of the other runners & so a greeting is natural (hand raise, smile "morning"). I always glance at the face first, if they avoid eye contact I don't bother.

  • hiya jonut, good question!!

    im always in awe of the proper runners who pass me when im out pretending to run. they whizz by, not an ounce of strain on their faces, faces not even red!! if they're running in pairs, sometimes - wait for it - they're talking to each other!! talking!! honest, im still in amazement at that and will continue to post whenever I can about it!

    anyway, back to the question :-), as a newbie i always look up at a fellow runner and try and smile (i hope its a smile they see and not a grimace!!) I never get anything back from the real runners whether I smile, nod or wave. I only get something back from a runner that looks like me - exhausted. Pity really.

    ali :-)

  • I know just what you mean about talking!! If someone moves out of my way I try and say thank you but I'm sure it's just a weird grunt that comes out. I am still expecting someone to stop me and ask if I am alright. Those "proper runners" started somewhere- don't do yourself down.

  • I normally give a nod and a look that says 'I know how you feel!' if they look like they're struggling or 'feels good doesn't it!' if they're clearly 'in the zone'!

    I ran a few weeks ago in my C25k Graduate t-shirt on and got a 'yey, well done you!' It felt brilliant!

  • 95% of my running so far has been done in the dark so while I do see other runners, there isn't that eye contact which facilitates a friendly gesture. With the brighter mornings that will change.

  • I find it hit and miss too. There are a couple of couples that always nod and smile (and last night one even said hi), but I find that the boys (another couple of lads go out by themselves) don't even seem to see me. I always try to smile at people though.

  • I usually smile at other runners except the ones that whizz by. Well over half of runners smile, nod or say a greeting as they run past & I live in London not known for being friendly to strangers. I've also found quite a few walkers will exchange a greeting as well. All comments I've had from strangers have been friendly & supportive which is great when you feel you're struggling.

  • I did an experiment one day and smiled at everyone who ran past me and almost everyone smiled back! I always smile at people who look like they're starting out or look self conscious. Unless people in groups smile I never do,especially if it's men do not want to give them the wrong idea! It's true there's more chance of people running on their own to acknowledge you than when they're in pairs or groups.

  • I find about 90% of the runners I pass make some sort of acknowledgment be that a smile (grimace from me sometimes if i'm struggling), nod of the head, wave or even a 'morning / afternoon' and that includes proper runners which I have to say we all are too!

    I think its like everything in life if you are smiley / friendly you normally get that back and remember they don't know the distance you've just run.(you may be at the end of a long run). Therefore, I'd recommend you hold your head up high and smile / raise a hand and you'll be suprised at what you get back. Happy running :)

  • This pretty much matches my experience round here. Dog walkers are almost always friendly and encouraging too.

  • I would never not smile in acknowledgement at *everyone* (runners, walkers, dog walkers, cyclists) I pass, but I run in the countryside and rarely pass anyone! I maybe see two folks walking as I pass through the village, but then can go for an hour without seeing another soul. (Passing one or two cars at the most).

    I've only passed two other runners when running locally since I started last summer, and I think maybe 2 or 3 other runners when away from home.

  • Without any doubt there are some miserable b#gg#rs out there. But I make a positive effort to be cheerful and normally get it back. The one notable exception was some lumbering great hulk who thudded past without so much as a by-your-leave. He didn't get Cheerful; he got Two-Fingers!!

  • Thanks for all the feedback. I think in the future I will look for eye contact and if I get it will smile and see what happens. Not sure I will have the breath to say anything!

  • I like to be acknowledged for my efforts as you would be done by etc etc ... I hope that my puce faced, wild haired grimace and grunt (aka smile and hello!) aren't too scarey

  • In case you're wondering, saw another runner coming in opposite direction on other side of the road this morning. Made eye contact and we both waved. Felt nice!

  • I'm so pleased that I've read these responses. On the few occasions I pass another runner in my village, I get no eye contact or acknowledgement which had make me feel like not 'one of them'. As previoulsy mentioned, cyclists always nod to other cyclists and dog walkers always consider the runner. So what is the explanation?

You may also like...