Howdy Doody!


 I’ve always been a huge fan of the “runners nod” (see also: runners wave, runners “hello”, runners masonic handshake etc.) It takes a fraction of a second to acknowledge a fellow runner, and the effect can be surprising. On many occasions, I’ve felt suddenly uplifted during a particularly hard run, simply through sharing a weary “we’re both as stupid as each other” smile with someone who’s running in the opposite direction to me while clearly occupying the same world of hurt.

Recently, on a long run, I decided to pass the time by counting up how many of my fellow runners returned my nods, waves and howdy-doodies. These are the results…

Short, quick-looking man in vest.


🙂 1   😦 0


Stern-faced couple in matching hi-viz.

Not a flicker (x2)

🙂  1   😦 2


Brightly-dressed man with dog.

Wave + “Hi, how’re you doing?”

🙂  2    🙂 2


Lady in grey compression gear, huffing away.

“Hnnngh”. The intent was there; I’m having that.

🙂 3   😦 2


Short lady with happy dog

Smile + nod

🙂 4   😦 2


Man in tiny shorts.


🙂 4   😦 3


Lady in charity race vest.

Nope. Not very charitable with her smiles.

🙂 4   😦 4


Man running with double buggy. (I think he lapped me at my first ever Parkrun).

Smile + nod

🙂 5   😦 4


Three “running mummy” types, clutching those hooped water bottles.

1x “Hi”, 2 x Carry-on-chatting-about-what-a-great-movie-Frozen-is.

🙂 6   😦 6


Red-faced lady, dressed in blue.

Nothing, but she seemed to be deeply entranced in her own little running world. We’ve all been there, so I’m calling this one a draw.

🙂 6   😦 6


Little bloke who looked like an ultra-running marine.

Eye contact + Double thumbs up + cheerful and sincere “Good morning”. (A full house! You, sir, win at running!)

🙂 7   😦 6


Lady and her (I think) Nan.

Eyes fixed ahead. Faces locked in frowns. 😦 7   😦 8


Grey haired chap who looked like a retired premiership footballer.

Nod + “Hi”.

As soon as he’d passed, either he did the loudest snot-rocket I’ve ever heard, or he’d been concealing a trombone.

🙂 8   😦 8


Man who looked a bit like a professor.

“Brrrrr. It’s a bit nippy”. (I think that’s a yes)

🙂 9   😦  8


Shambling man with crazy hair and a haunted look that gave him away as an ultra runner.

Blank nod. He was clearly battling some demons, so I’d count anything other than frenzied stabbing as a “yes”.

🙂 10   😦 8


The grey haired chap who looked like a retired professional footballer, coming back the other way.

Another nod + “Hi”. No snot trombone this time.

🙂 11  😦 8


Stern-face couple in matching hi-viz, again. This time the man was running a good 10 metres ahead of his wife. She didn’t look happy; I think they’d had a row.

Her: Scowl

Him: Wave + “Morning”. I think he was just being pleasant to annoy her.

🙂 12   😦 9


By now I was a mile from the end of my run. Things were looking good, and it seemed as though niceness was going to triumph. Yay!

But then, from around a bend up ahead, a gaggle of club runners strode into view. They looked like they meant business, with no time for fripperies; the running equivalent of Cobra Kai.  Six runners. This could go either way…

Scary group of proper runners.

1x cheery “Hellooooo” + thumbs up.

5x looks of stern disapproval aimed at their far-too-happy (soon to be former-) friend.

🙂 13   😦 14


Gaaaah! Beaten at the last hurdle!

But as I jogged towards the end of my run, I had a rethink. Positivity always beats negativity, and action always wins against inaction. The enthusiastic greeting from Little Bloke Who Looked Like an Ultra-Running Marine had to be worth at least two points. And two of the runners I’d encountered had dogs with them, both of which looked quite happy with the world, so that’s another two points.

🙂 16   😦 14   Yes! Take that grumpiness!   

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10 thoughts on “Howdy Doody!

  1. I was just telling a friend the other day how I like to acknowledge fellow runners, mainly because of a few memorable ones who’ve pepped me up on a hard run when they’ve passed. I’m sure I’m still occasionally guilty of ignoring passing runners though – I’ll have to be extra vigilant in future in case I’m being monitored!

    • How weird would it be if some of the people mentioned were actually reading this blog post, not realising it’s about them? 😄

  2. You must have a much better memory than I have! I would end up with a sad list after remembering only the club runners and maybe the double buggy, or else I’d trip and end up with a concussion after attempting to take notes on the run.

  3. What a brilliant post! I find that dog-walkers are also a plentiful source of “hello’s” and smiles. It would be interesting to repeat this experiment in different parts of the country: north vs south runner friendliness? Contentious…

    • Dog walkers are ace, I agree. Also: groups of silver-haired ramblers. They’ve honed a cheerful greeting to a professional level.

  4. I run in the New Forest and find that horse riders are always a good source of friendly greetings, as are most runners, dog walkers and even cyclists. It really is a particularly cheerful place, I can recommend it!

    • That’s good to know. I’ve noticed that about horse riders too, although for some reason I become at least seven times more working class when I say hello to them. I practically curtesy and doff my cap.

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