Running: How do you acknowledge other runners when on the road?

You are out on a run and another runner is coming towards you from the other direction… You want to acknowledge them and show some respect to a fellow runner, but you don’t want to disrupt them. What do you do?

The ultimate runner conundrum… (Well other than what to do when you need the loo). What do you actually do? Well my friends, I have a lovely list of approaches you can use when out on the road or park or trail. You. Are. Welcome.


The hand raise

This is a common one that I see when I am out on a run. Runners pass, eyes connect grimacing smiles on each face begin to form ‘ Oh good someone else is going for it’ and slowly you begin to raise your hand, but not too high, just up to chest height and the runner acknowledges the same. The elation of the other runner responding in kind to you fills you with joy and boosts you for an extra mile.

Trying to talk

I run down the towpath almost every other day and on occasion, there is a guy who cycles with his dog and sometimes he is training runners who are aiming for a marathon. He is a coach for a nearby running club. Without fail, if I am running past him he will yell over to me and actually tell the runners of my progress from his view point. This then causes the runners with him to say hello, they are going at a nice marathon pace, probably 3:30 – 4-hour pace so are able to speak. I am maybe going on a speed run and simply cannot usher out enough hello’s and have headphones on, so I have no idea how loudly I am speaking, ‘HELLO’ I burst out. Hoping for the best that I didn’t deafen them. Head down I run on, slightly embarrassed for it, but deep down a smile is on my face. It is similar to being cheered on, other people who know the effort you are putting in and are encouraging you. It is great.

The thumbs up

This is a variant to the hand raise, but just involves trying to be Arnold in Terminator 2 and providing that nice, simple acknowledgements such as the thumbs up are very common to me when running, especially from those running faster. No time to wave or speak, a quick thumbs up is sufficed as you power past your fellow brethren.

The nod

Now, I will be honest, this is my approach when acknowledging someone on a run. I find it quick, polite and affirming. The nod is an underrated thing in this world. You are showing some respect, but letting the person know that you are running and focusing on your run. Plus it also lets the other runner off from having to worry as they can respond in the same manner without having to over exert themselves, or over think things. Even outside of running, in the gym, a nod is handy, it shows you are acknowledging someone and showing respect and keeping

Even outside of running, for example in the gym, a nod is handy, it shows you are acknowledging someone and showing respect. I think I first started the nod at the gym as I never really saw many opportunities or need to speak to a stranger when working out.

The wave

The standard bearer of the acknowledgement, the friendly smile and wave. Not to extravegant a wave, but one that is noticeable and enough to illict a smile and wave (or just an acknowledgement) from your fellow runner. I can’t think of anyone who hasn’t given me the wave who hasn’t been smiling as they have done so. Could you turn down that smile and wave?

What to look out for

If the other runner has headphones on, it might be a little silly to try and speak to them. For instance, would you try and speak to someone in public or in the gym who has headphones on? The runner will only see you mouthing something to them. Leaving them either confused as to what you said or maybe they might stop as they think you are trying to gather their attention… You don’t want to have that awkward conversation with someone stating that you were just saying hi…

If the runner is looking serious and focused, it is probably not the best idea to try and get their attention to show your respect/friendly side. They are on a hard run and are looking to get some sort of good result, they may not be able to respond in time for you as they might catch you too late!

Please remember

A fellow runner ignoring your gesture should not be taken to heart, they might not just be the type of person who responds to others. Don’t let it ruin your run, keep going we are all a community, but within communities, we have people who are not as social as the rest of us. That is fine, that is what makes us, us. Keeping being friendly and keep smiling and waving and giving the thumbs-up and chatting and nodding to your fellow runner. The ones who will notice you and respond to you will get a little kick from it and it might even make their run. Keep being you and learn to judge which method suits you and the situation.

Have you been ignored by someone when waving at them on a run? Do you have other methods? Let me know below.

Until then,



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