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.
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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