Some of my favorite HTP posts revolve around what is ‘proper’ exercise etiquette.  It’s a light topic that most of us (and – I’ll admit – including myself) have strong opinions about.  For example:  Is it OK to Transfer a Bib Number?  Or Bandit a Race?, Can I Wear That Race Shirt?, and Can I Re-Wear Workout Clothes?  More Than Three Times?! (a non-workout related debate post that I really loved: The Dog Poop Debate). So this week, I’ve a series of debate posts regarding some of the small but significant issues you face when exercising.


Up first: smiling at strangers. 

Here’s the question that’s up for debate:  When you’re walking, running, or cycling outside, and you pass by a stranger going the opposite direction, do you smile at them?  Look down?  Do the coy slight head nod?  Look through them?  An extension of the smile issue:  Do you wave or actually say hello? Does it matter if it’s a sunny day, a rainy night, or in a race?


I found this fun article on Runner’s World about Wavers v. Nonwavers.  Basically, you’re more likely to wave if it’s a sunny day, you’re older, and you’re in a group of people.


My thoughts:


  • I am a fan of the nod and half smile.  I usually gauge whether the other person will acknowledge me first, though.  It’s so terribly awkward when you smile and the other person does not.


  • However, if I’m working really hard, and I’m really tired, I don’t do anything.  Sometimes it feels like nodding is expending way too much energy so I just don’t.  Is that lazy?  


  • If I’m in a bad mood and I’m running to blow off steam, I will probably not nod.  I’m just not feeling friendly.


  • I am less likely to acknowledge in a crowded place -  like a running trail where I am passing dozens of people per mile.  But in my quiet neighborhood?  Sure, I’ll nod.


  • Also, I am a fan of the “Hello!” when I’m approaching someone from behind, especially if they are wearing ear buds.  It is SO scary when someone comes up from behind you, and you don’t realize they are there until they are passing.  Eek!


So – do you nod? Smile? Wave? Or ignore?  Do you judge non-wavers (“Meanies!’) Or judge wavers (“Well, aren’t you a special snowflake!”)?  Every made a friend thanks to a mid-run wave?



  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More July 22, 2012, 9:27 am

    I usually try to determine if the other person will acknowledge me or not and then do a nod and half smile, but just like you said, it’s also going to depend on my mood and how I’m feeling during that run.

  • Andrea July 22, 2012, 9:33 am

    Fun debate topic! I will sometimes smile at passing runners. If I’m biking, I’m going way to fast to do that! If I’m “in the zone” I probably won’t smile. But if someone smiles or waves at me, I’m definitely going to smile or wave back – no question!

  • Kath July 22, 2012, 9:42 am

    I’m a smiler 🙂

  • HTPDad July 22, 2012, 9:43 am

    I was just thinking about this on my last walk – here’s what I came up with –

    older guys (like me) – say hi
    young guys ‘training’ – mostly way too busy to acknowledge me

    one woman – probably totally ignore me
    one women – for sure at least one will say hi
    group of women – a third will say hi

    mixed group – everyone’s friendly

    YMMV, and I am a very big person, but – WTF?

    As far as running too hard – waving isn’t that energy intensive –

  • Emily July 22, 2012, 9:45 am

    In a race, usually I don’t say/do anything, except when the pack has thinned, I’m at the end of the pack (normal for me), and there’s someone who has the same pace near me. While biking/running, heck yeah I smile and say hello. If someone doesn’t acknowledge me, I don’t care. I’d rather be too polite than ignore people. Sometimes a polite stranger can really make my day, and I’d love to do the same for someone else.

  • Er July 22, 2012, 9:48 am

    Those statistics are interesting to me — I am actually MORE likely to wave when I’m by myself (and I’m 25 .. haha).

    I read somewhere years ago that waving or saying “hello!” is actually a great safety precaution and I’ve done it (almost) religiously ever since. If you’re waving/saying hi to people, you are much more likely to stick in their brain … so if God forbid something happens to you and police need to put out a search/alert, they’re much more likely to say “Oh yeah, that was the crazy girl who was happy at 6 a.m. in the morning. She was wearing a red hat and running in X direction.” On the flip side, if you’re running among potential attackers/creepers, a wave or quick hello to them indicates that you ARE paying attention and are more likely to be able to describe them to authorities later. I wish I remember where I read this — I think it was described more eloquently!

    • Christine July 22, 2012, 10:13 am

      I read this somewhere recently too and have been saying hi to people out exercising ever since.

      • lindsay July 22, 2012, 12:45 pm

        This is exactly what I was going to say. I live in an urban environment and walk my dog solo daily. I want the people I see to know that I see them and that I’m aware of my surroundings. So I always make eye contact and say hello.

    • Sharon July 22, 2012, 12:10 pm

      This is really interesting. I’m kind of a smile and half wave kind of girl but I never really thought of it like this and I run on a trail by myself a lot so I will definitley be vocal from now on.

    • Rachel C. July 22, 2012, 12:37 pm

      This is the exact reason I wave and/or say Hello to everyone I pass. And most of the people I pass aren’t out exercising. I am one of the very few that runs in my area so I think most people would recognize me since they don’t see many people out running

    • Katya July 22, 2012, 2:30 pm

      that is very interesting! had not thought of it in that way before. Thanks!
      i am generally a ‘nodder’ and quite often a ‘smiler’ and ‘hello’ person myself. It’s not often that I don’t acknowledge someone at all. I live in a smaller town so half the time I know the person anyway 🙂

  • Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries July 22, 2012, 9:49 am

    I’m pretty much right on track with you as to whether I smile, nod, say anything, etc. It really depends on my mood and how tired I am. I’m always curious how other people feel about this as they are running/cycling past me, so I’m interested to read future comments about this!

  • Lindsay July 22, 2012, 9:55 am

    I try to at least smile and/or acknowledge others when I’m running. If I’m feeling really good, I’ll say hi, and if I’m not feeling it, I’ll at least try for a smile and half nod. Besides doing it out of niceness, I think I acknowledge others for safety reasons, too. I run alone most often and try to be aware of my surroundings. If I ignore others on the trail, I may not notice a potential creeper.

    • Melissa July 22, 2012, 4:58 pm

      I do pretty much the same thing ranging from the half nod to a full-on “hello” or “good morning”. I’m actually probably less-likely to acknowledge if I’m running in a group, mostly b/c I’m absorbed in conversation…but I’m usually running solo.

      There was a “creeper” on my run this morning and he got the full sha-bang just b/c I wanted him to know that I noticed him. And truthfully, he creeped me out so much that I turned around after I passed him to get a better description should I have needed it later.

  • Amanda July 22, 2012, 10:03 am

    I usually at least give the closed mouth smile and sometimes I manage to gasp out a “hi!” If I put the effort out to do that and someone doesn’t reciprocate, I usually get a little pissed haha

  • Laura @ May Your Bobbin Always Be Full July 22, 2012, 10:05 am

    I wonder if in part this a regional thing. I’m much more likely to acknowledge a stranger on the street (whether running, walking, biking) in my smaller midwest city then when I’m in a big city like DC.

    • Caitlin July 22, 2012, 10:06 am

      I bet it is!

      • Vanessa July 22, 2012, 10:17 am

        It’s a cultural thing too. Compared with the U.S., greeting a stranger can be quite rare in Germany. I’ve gotten used to it and now I’m always caught off guard when I’m back in the States and people I don’t know greet me as I run by. I prefer the greeting to the not-greeting, though.

  • Angela July 22, 2012, 10:06 am

    Depends on if look like they are a smiler or are just going to ignore me. It totally seems to depend on where you are. When I go out walking in the countryside pretty much everyone says hello when you pass and it doesn’t matter what age or gender. Must be the fresh air making everyone more cheerful!

  • SaraRM July 22, 2012, 10:18 am

    This is a good one ha! When I first started running outside I would get so annoyed by all the hi-s, gmornings etc when I was on my run. Not sure at all why now bc years later and im the complete opposite. Unless im in the middle of a really hard run and am really focusing I always give a hi or a smile. I run the same sat morning lake trail so I always give a “good morning”. Might annoy some but if I can brighten someone elses day or make them feel more comfortable being out there then ill do it! But location has a lot to do with it also.

  • Michelle @ Eat Move Balance July 22, 2012, 10:26 am

    I love this topic. I’m totally someone who smiles and says, “Good morning!”

    It’s because of the few times someone has smiled and commented to me–and I realized how it impacted my mood, and really just “made my day”–that I wanted to pay it forward. 🙂

  • Joy July 22, 2012, 10:27 am

    I’m a firm believer in being friendly when I run and I smile, wave, AND say hello to everyone I pass. When I’m working hard, it’s a smile and a nod.

    I get a smile and wave back from very few people, which is a bit disappointing. Come on people…we’re all out here running…why not make it happy?

    When I do get a wave or hello or smile back, it makes me happy.

  • Rachel @ Eat, Learn, Discover! July 22, 2012, 10:32 am

    I love smiling and even saying “good morning” if I can manage – but in big cities where I’ve lived (Chicago, NYC), people are not that friendly, and give you funny looks when you do more than the ‘half smile and nod’.
    I actually once had someone high-five me on a run, and it basically made my day.

  • Army Amy* July 22, 2012, 10:33 am

    I do a half wave sort of thing where I raise my hand and nod. I did notice when I was training with a group, we all always said hi to everyone we saw. It was just part of the vibe of the group, and I loved it!*

  • Aundra @ Fit for Life July 22, 2012, 10:42 am

    This is so funny – I was just thinking about this yesterday on a run. I’m a cheerful runner, always smiling, waving, and encountered my first grumpy runner yesterday. We passed on the same side of the road and he didn’t even acknowledge me!

    I tried to tell myself he was just having a bad day or working hard, but it still rubbed me the wrong way. We’re all in this workout thing together, right? Smile!!!

  • cathy@1970kikiproject July 22, 2012, 10:49 am

    i smile and wave if i’m running and meet runners/bikers. if they choose not to smile n wave back, so be it!

  • theresa @ aspoonfulofsunshine July 22, 2012, 10:57 am

    I love how you thought to do a post on this Caitlin! I have always debated this topic too because I have noticed that on some running routes I go on EVERYONE waves but on others people simply don’t. I ABSOLUTELY adore it when people wave or smile at me. I think it is a great way to pass on the positivity and because of that I think I probably run faster. But here is the weird part, I’ve noticed that college kids almost NEVER wave back at you, they glance at you and look down. But adults seem to be much more friendly!

  • erin July 22, 2012, 11:04 am

    i think its a regional thing for sure. i live in the south and i would feel almost rude not to say hello or smile.

    for me, acknowleding another runner is also about my own safety, like what Er said. if something happens to me, i want people to remember as much about me as possible even if it is “the crazy girl that smiled way to big for an early morning run and yelled ‘HELLLO! How are you today?!'”

  • Alina July 22, 2012, 11:07 am

    I do practically the same thing as you! I usually at least smile, sometimes nod or wave, but not if I’m working hard or if I’m grumpy. A few summers ago, my sister and I did a bit of an experiment and smiled, waved, and said hello to everyone we passed on a half-an-hour bike ride. Out of about 15 people we passed, at least 10 of them said hello, and most of them at least smiled or waved. That’s why I do it now- people definitely notice me, and it really cheers them up!

  • Hillary July 22, 2012, 11:07 am

    I’m the same way: if I’m working really hard or I’m angry with the world, I usually just pass by, but on a normal day, I’m definitely wave/smile/say hey kinda girl.

  • Jade July 22, 2012, 11:20 am

    Unless I’m completely miserable because of the workout or heat, I’ll smile and say hi. I actually really enjoy interacting with other runners like that. Its like adding a slight bit of social interaction to an otherwise entirely solitary (for me) activity.

    My favorite thing that has happened to me while running, though, is getting a high five from passing runners or pedestrians. I LOVE when this happens to me; it makes my run! I’ve always wanted to initiate it with other runners passing, but am too worried they wouldnt reciprocate 😛

  • Beth @ 990 Square July 22, 2012, 11:28 am

    I’ve become a big waver while running, unless I’m on the track. Why not? It might be the thing that brightens someone’s crappy run or bad day.

  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats July 22, 2012, 11:28 am

    If there aren’t many people out and the person I’m passing is older, I tend to smile and nod. But I run on the lakefront in Chicago so it’s generally quite packed, too many people to acknowledge…

  • Katie @ Soulshine and Sassafras July 22, 2012, 11:31 am

    I always smile, and I get sad when people don’t smile back at me.

  • Liz A July 22, 2012, 11:44 am

    I almost always smile, say hi, or give a wave. which one I do depends on how far the person is from me (across the street will usually just get a wave) or how hard I’m working (smiles are easiest). I always run in neighborhoods or on rural roads, so I tend to see a good amount of people out.

  • Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope July 22, 2012, 11:45 am

    I’m a total judger! I hate when I’m out walking, nod/smile/say hello and i get nothing in return. I usually say a little curse under my breath after i pass an antisocial person hahah

  • Gloria July 22, 2012, 11:49 am

    I love this topic! I grew up in a sketchy neighborhood where I was afraid to even make eye contact when walking down the street. I remember being at a friend’s house as a child and a stranger greeted us as we walked by and I couldn’t get over the fact that my friend didn’t know that person. That being said, I love that I live in a friendly neighborhood now and I love saying hello and connecting to people in that way. I think it makes it easier when you are both exercising though, like a camaraderie of sorts that puts you at ease. I admit I’m still creeped out by some interactions, depending on how the person responds to you and looks at you. I had a guy approach me from behind while I was wearing headphones once. I saw him out of the corner of my eye coming towards me for about 5 seconds. I didn’t want to overreact at first, thinking he was going to his car on the other side of me. But then I realized he was coming right at me and I turned around quickly and stared at him. He was startled and fumbled with his words, saying he was just wondering what the time was. I don’t know if he was trying to steal my phone or was just socially awkward or what, but I’ve learned to trust my gut. I try to be friendly to everyone, but it’s okay to keep your distance when you’re getting bad vibes.

  • Presley (@runpretty) July 22, 2012, 11:52 am

    I usually smile, unless I’m really struggling or if I’m in a pissy mood. The only weird thing I’ve noticed is that I’m more likely to smile at women my age than men my age… almost like I don’t want to “flirt” with them. I’m weird like that. & If I smile and don’t get a smile back, I feel like a complete ass. haha

  • Kristin July 22, 2012, 11:52 am

    Smile all the way! I actually blogged about this. My theory is you can fuel someone’s run with smiles. When I’m having a tough time that’s when I’m most likely to seek a smile with a smile of my own. Having someone’s positive acknowledgement makes me feel so much more positive about my own exercise. I try to smile at everyone!

  • Leah July 22, 2012, 11:54 am

    I always say hello, it costs nothing to be friendly! (although I do agree it stings when its not reciprocated) Most runners in the Toronto area say hello, but I notice when I travel to the States, not so much… maybe safety is a concern?

  • bonnie July 22, 2012, 12:04 pm

    I passed quite a few people today- all smiling and waving and I returned the favor, including a little girl who was very happy to pause her bike ride to say hello! It was a great beginning to my c25K!

    “Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise.”

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin July 22, 2012, 12:06 pm

    I like to smile at them! Running puts me in a good mood, so I like to pass on the cheer haha.

  • Katheryn July 22, 2012, 12:13 pm

    I’m a big fan of the smile and wave. I either smile and wave or smile and say hello, depending on whether or not they’re wearing earbuds. I think it’s important to be friendly. It makes me look better, and lifts others moods. Also, if something bad were to happen to me, I’m making myself known during my run. It might pay off!

  • Christena July 22, 2012, 12:24 pm

    I always love your questions!

    Re: the regional thing – I live in the friendly South, and most people you pass (exercise or not) will generally nod, smile, or at least acknowledge. I always respond in kind, but rarely initiate. I’m typically in my own world and use exercise for thinking and working problems out in my head. I don’t judge if some one does or doesn’t acknowledge me. I don’t imagine that any strangers are judging me and if they are, I’m not sure I really care. 🙂

    Is your husband a cycling fan?! It’s a great day for the Brits with the big Tour de France win!

    • Caitlin July 22, 2012, 1:07 pm

      Naw he’s not a cycling fan but he is ALWAYS a fan of Britain winning 🙂

  • Holly July 22, 2012, 12:25 pm

    I always wave and smile and say good morning/hello to people I pass while running – walkers or runners. And I always smile at cyclist I see while running and I wave/smile at other cyclist when I’m out riding and smile to runners. I guess I’m just a super friendly exerciser. Even if I go out for a run grumpy I usually am ungrumpy by 5min so I still am friendly to other people I see.
    Also on a long run the other week I caught up to the person in front of me (who was also way friendly) and said hello and ended up running with that person for another 2mi and carried on a conversation. And a trail race I did this weekend I chatted with some of the runners around me, I love the camaraderie. Like I said I’m just really friendly and super chatty while running (I’m typically kinda shy when not running go figure)

  • Caitlin July 22, 2012, 12:33 pm

    I ALWAYS give the runners wave. Just a little quick flick of the hand with some eye contact. Honestly, if someone doesn’t give something back to me I assume they are either very rude or a noobie.

  • Tamara July 22, 2012, 12:37 pm

    I attempt eye contact first and then say hello. I too live in the south and would feel rude if I didn’t. I generally just run around my neighborhood.

  • Chelsea July 22, 2012, 12:40 pm

    I’m a waver haha 🙂 I’ll smile and say “Good morning!” or something like that to people. I’ll see if they’re looking/acknowledging me first though. Sometimes people like to just ignore me though…Bad mood or good mood though I’ll still show a smile to people 🙂 Except at races because then I’d be smiling the entire race lolz.

  • Kelly July 22, 2012, 12:54 pm

    My neighborhood is VERY routine and I pass the same people every single day. I walk my dog every morning for 45 minutes before doing anything…literally wake up put on shoes go for a walk and I pass the exact same people every morning. So I always smile and say hello or good morning. (This is around 6:30am) Usually everyone does the same. But it totally freaks me out when someone passes me from behind and I never even heard them coming. Instant heart rate increase!

  • Mandy July 22, 2012, 12:56 pm

    You sound pretty much exactly like me in your waving/non-waving philosophies. During a bad run, there are times where actually lifting your hand or moving your face sounds like the hardest thing in the world!

    I also like to smile at the dog walkers who make sure to get their dog out of the way for me.

  • Lauren July 22, 2012, 1:02 pm

    I just had this discussion with my husband regarding the trails I run and he rides. I always give the peace sign and he cracked up and said “ohhhh, you’re one of those.” But if I’m running uphill that’s all the effort I can muster. I also believe that if you are running uphill and someone is on their way down, it is their job to wave or smile because they don’t have to exert as much energy. Fair, right?
    Peace out 🙂

  • Christine @ BookishlyB July 22, 2012, 1:11 pm

    I live in a neighborhood of “good morning” walkers, which is totally fine if I’m walking. If I actually am running outside I usually have my headphones blasting, so a half smile is the norm from me.

  • Alex @ Healthy Life Happy Wife July 22, 2012, 1:17 pm

    I’ve noticed that when I was living in San Diego, there were much more “wavers”, & I was therefore, a “waver”. Now that I live in NYC, there are much more “non-wavers” & I find myself becoming a “non-waver”. I definitely like the idea of waving & overall just being friendly but it’s definitely no fun to wave or smile & get no response…so I think most people just adapt to the people in their area.

    Good topic, though! I was just discussing this with my husband the other day!

  • Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope July 22, 2012, 1:37 pm

    One time I was running and I passed this gentleman who was obviously much older, but in excellent shape also running, and we exchanged hellos. When we passed for a second time, I put my hand up and said, “high five man!!” and we high fixed quickly and he yelled, “oh yeah!!!”
    it was great!! people need to be more like this

    • Caitlin July 22, 2012, 2:24 pm

      haha awesome!

  • Kate S. July 22, 2012, 2:13 pm

    I like to acknowledge others when I’m out on a bike ride, usually a smile, nod or half wave (i.e. keeping my hand on the bars but lifting my fingers up). It’s just kind of a life philosophy I guess–just like I try to look into the cashier’s eyes at the grocery store, give them a warm smile and genuinely ask how their day is going. I just like to acknowledge and make that small connection with others who share this world with me! Though if I’m really killing myself on the bike, I don’t always want to interrupt my zone, and I also don’t want to let myself be distracted when I’m going 25 miles an hour for safety reasons. I have to admit, lots of times, the “big guys” (i.e. guys wearing pro kits) ignore me, but it doesn’t phase me anymore–I still get pleasure out of extending myself to them.

  • Kristina July 22, 2012, 2:14 pm

    I always nod and say hello. Despite me being a shy person, I think all of my years of working in customer service has made me become so social when I’m out on a trail. And yeah, I get peeved when I say hello and people won’t even acknowledge my presence! Sure they might be having a bad day…but whatevs.

  • Sam @ Better With Sprinkles July 22, 2012, 2:34 pm

    I usually do the nod and half smile – unless I feel like I’m dying a little and a nod is too much energy, or the other person just looks incredibly focused and intense – I feel like I’d be distracting them by making them have to nod back! (maybe I’m just too nice?)

  • Amber K July 22, 2012, 2:36 pm

    I half-smile with a slight nod. And about half will return with something of their own. But it feels weird to me to not acknowledge at all.

  • Mai July 22, 2012, 2:57 pm

    i usually smile, and will call out a “hello!” occasionally. i live in a pretty friendly neighborhood, and people will acknowledge each other most of the time.

  • Alexandra July 22, 2012, 3:15 pm

    I almost always nod or wave at people. I think its great to acknowledge that we (being the stranger and me) are out trying our best to stay fit and healthy. It also motivates me to keep running (and I can only hope it motivates the other person). The first time someone waved at me, I was so shocked… basically a deer in the headlights… thinking to myself “do I know him?” I didn’t know this person, but the small gesture made me feel like I wasn’t running alone.

    • Barbara July 22, 2012, 5:53 pm

      I feel the same way!!

  • Lexi @ You, Me, & A World to See July 22, 2012, 3:26 pm

    I always smile! I don’t know why, but not acknowledging the other person seems totally foreign to me 🙂

  • Shauna July 22, 2012, 4:06 pm

    I’m shy and socially awkward, so I tend to just keep my head down. I have found that it’s older people who say hello to me–not once has anyone my age ever said anything, and we’re all students living next to our university, so I run into them quite a lot! I do, though, say good morning to the crossing guard if I run by an elementary school.

    Oh, but what completely makes my runs is when I take a certain path and pass a particular homeless man. He says hello and fist-bumps me every time, which is particularly awesome since when I see him I’m running up a hill. His interactions with me help me finish strong! If I could get over my shyness and high-five all runners I pass, that would be fun.

  • Jazz July 22, 2012, 4:11 pm

    Here we all do the runners wave, but maybe it’s a Canada/ or Saskatoon thing?? walkers I usually say hi or nod.. bikers nothing, they usually don’t smile at us.

  • Mary July 22, 2012, 4:18 pm

    So this is going to sound super cheesy, but I view my runs (especially weekend runs) as a way of spreading the joy. I try to make as much eye contact as I can, and am really upbeat/happy when I pass someone. Typically I’ll say Hi, or Morning, or make some comment about the conditions (can you believe how hot is its?!). The cool thing about this is it’s invigorating. Every time I smile, it makes me feel better and run faster. And, a la Chrissie Wellington, if you do it in a race your competitors won’t know how much you’re hurting. #winning

    • Caitlin July 22, 2012, 4:33 pm

      i think thats nice 🙂

  • Meagan July 22, 2012, 4:29 pm

    I usually smile and give a little wave. Unless I’m doing a long run and I’m exhausted. Then it’s more of a “can you drive me the rest of the way home?” look.

  • Erin @ The Grass Skirt July 22, 2012, 4:46 pm

    I always acknowledge them in some way. I’ll either smile, say hello, or both. Sometimes that return the acknowledgment and sometimes not.

  • Laura @ She Eats Well July 22, 2012, 4:50 pm

    This is a great post topic. For reals. When I am running on a nice day, I agree, I like to smile casually and mouth HI to a fellow runner. However, when I’m running off steam and in a bad mood trying to work through shiz in my mind, I definitely am completely focused and don’t really want to say hello to passer byers. Ha.

  • Clare July 22, 2012, 5:11 pm

    Oh Dear. I must be terribly annoying. I always say “Hello/Good Morning/Howdy Neighbour” or what-have-you. Running makes me very, very happy and I feel it’s my personal duty to spread the love around (like Mary said, above). I’m particularly chipper with people that look grumpy and I ALWAYS announce myself when passing someone (also usually say something funny like “almost home now!” to diffuse my embarrassment at overtaking them) I also say hello to dogs 🙂

  • diana July 22, 2012, 5:26 pm

    i run through my neighborhood, so i’m often passing runners, walkers, commuters, etc… i smile/say hello most of the time unless i’m having a really hard time running. and i love when people smile back or smile first – it’s a total mood booster. if i’m in an especially good mood, i often get the urge to ‘high-five’ the passing runners, but haven’t worked up the courage to do that yet 🙂

  • Megan E July 22, 2012, 5:45 pm

    I grew up in a smallish midwestern town and everyone always greeted/smiled or even made a little small talk – runners will even say “it’s a great day for a run!” or similar 🙂 I just moved to Brooklyn and I’m still getting used to the fact that not everyone will smile and say good morning. It’s just ingrained in me. Luckily my neighbors are pretty open!

    I also always learned to say “on your left!” when passing on a bike or running, or to ring a bell if you have one.

  • Barbara July 22, 2012, 5:52 pm

    I ALWAYS say good morning when I pass people on a run! (I am also always a morning runner). The only time I don’t bother is when people are wearing headphones. That is a major friendliness put-off!

    It also helps that when I get out on a run, I usually end up in a good mood (even if I start in a bad one), and if I AM having a bad day, saying hello to my fellow runners actually helps me to feel better 🙂

  • Kelly July 22, 2012, 5:53 pm

    I always call out “good morning” in an annoyingly happy awake voice. When I’m passing someone I call out “on your left” and when I get up to them call out “good morning”. Most people acknowledge my greetings but there are some who just put their head down like I don’t exist. I enjoy being outside so pass the joy to all those I see.

  • SarahNW July 22, 2012, 6:20 pm

    I always smile and try to connect with people that I pass. I read an article in an outdoor fitness magazine that said that it’s actually safer to smile and make eye contact with people, because (God forbid) if something does happen to you (if you get lost or hurt or snatched up) then people are more likely to recognize you and it could save your life. Super morbid, but super true. Maybe this only counts in the backwoods, and not in the city though…

  • Laura July 22, 2012, 6:32 pm

    When running/walking the dog I try to say hi or at least smile at people. I like trying to be friendly-almost everyone says hi back! When cycling I’ll give quick wave at other cyclists, but I’m going too fast to do much else!

  • Steph @ A Life without Ice Cream July 22, 2012, 7:10 pm

    I tend to be a half smile person… I like it when people smile when passing each other, like some sort of runner comradeship!

  • Rebecca July 22, 2012, 7:22 pm

    I always smile or say hi and try to make eye contact with everyone I pass. I’m training for a triathlon with Team in Training and realized that, even in non-Team runs, I tell strangers that they are “looking good!” or “great run!”. They definitely must think I’m crazy, but hopefully it puts a little extra bounce in their step!

  • Maren July 22, 2012, 7:46 pm

    I usually say hi if I’m not dying!! And I don’t care if they say hi back or not. I just like being friendly. It’s been over a year since I’ve been on the trail (stress fracture…boo!), so when I get back out there, I will say hi to everyone and their mom! 🙂

  • KaraHadley July 22, 2012, 7:52 pm

    I don’t run or whatnot for exercise, but I do walk my dog, and I feel like this debate could extend to those situations. For me, because I’m young and living in a nicer neighborhood near a college, I always try to at least smile, if not say “hi.” For some reason I think this makes people less likely to think i’m some hoodlum college kid bringing her dog to poo on their lawns than if I ignore them.
    And I agree with the running trail thing. Acknowledging everyone on a trail would be the same as acknowledging everyone on a treadmill in the gym. It’s unnecessary and maybe even weird.

  • Claire July 22, 2012, 8:13 pm

    I usually smile or say hi. But I run a lot in the early morning darkness and I don’t tend to acknowledge others in the dark as you can’t see their face. Same if you are running into the sun, it’s really hard to see people’s faces as they run towards you so I don’t acknowledge as much. Although I’ll always say hello back if someone acknowledges me. I don’t know what it is about being unable to see the other preson’s face that changes my behaviour – I’ve never thought about it before. Also I’m more likely to initiate a hello with another runner than a walker or a cyclist, something about both being runners I guess. I really hate running up behind someone who has ear buds in – I’m paranoid about giving them a fright, especially when it’s dark. I tend to give them a really wide berth so that hopefully they don’t totally freak out!

  • April July 22, 2012, 8:16 pm

    I love a small wave or “good morning”. I almost always initiate and have rarely not gotten a return. I just love the friendliness of people out exercising together!

  • Baylee July 22, 2012, 8:30 pm

    It really depends for me..generally if there’s alot of people out, I wont..but if there’s just a few people, I will either smile, wave, or say hello. HOWEVER, I always have my ear buds in, and while I always talk to myself in my head as to whether this person is going to nod/wave/say hi, whenever I do actually say Hi, I feel like it sounds like a really squirrely ‘HI!” which is nothing like my actual voice sounds like. I have admittedly, practiced saying Hi outloud while running when no one is nearby. What a weirdo I am! Alot of times I usually just go to the gym and workout (Which brings up another question, of do you say Hi to people at the gym that you see alot, or do you smile at anyone? — I actually talked to someone from my gym one time and she told me she always wanted to ask me about my workouts but I always look intimidating because I never smile, I have a straight focused gaze on what I need to do, and I dont talk to anyone)..but when Im out on the running track every once in a while, im hesitant to say hello to people who look like theyre out there everyday. I feel like they’re thinking “ohh, another friendly little newbie..we’ll see how long she lasts!” I swear, its all a silly little mind game!

  • Irina @ Chocolatea Time July 22, 2012, 9:15 pm

    I love it when runners are friendly! I was actually just thinking about this the other day and I realized how much a small smile or wave can make me a happier runner. I believe in good karma so I do the same 🙂 It’s as if we all know what the other is going through while running and we acknowledge that with a greeting.

  • Dynamics July 22, 2012, 10:40 pm

    I say “good morning” and at the very least smile. So many people run/walk with their head down when they pass you. I do not care and I still say Good Morning.

    My smiling at people has gotten me some great compliments. There is nothing better than a total stranger encouraging you to keep going or telling you that you are doing great and not to give up. You can do it.

    So no matter what….at least SMILE. Just my MHO.

  • Jenna July 22, 2012, 10:41 pm

    I’m a smiler, a waver, and frequently a ‘positive commenter’ – of the genre of good morning, good job, looking good, style.
    I try to live with the theory that you don’t know what is going on in other people’s lives and sometimes what is seen as a trivial can be *the* only moment of encouragement or acknowledgement they might have. The positivity that I receive back [and granted not everyone acknowledges me] is often worth more than the effort required.

  • Beth July 22, 2012, 11:01 pm

    Peoples friendliness while running seems to differ a lot depending on where you live. I grew up in St. Louis and like most other places in the midwest nearly everyone gives a smile or a wave when passing one another on running paths. I have since lived in LA and Boston. In LA people would look at me like i was a crazy person when i smiled or said hi. Boston has been more on the friendlier side, but still nothing like the midwest. I still always try my best to smile at other runners as they pass simply because when someone smiles at me it perks me up and makes the run just a little better 🙂

  • The clean eating mama July 23, 2012, 1:59 am

    I really enjoy waving and saying hi to other Joggers or walkers. Even if I am feeling shitty… And they look like they are feeling shitty… A simple gesture can brighten spirits. It’s kind of like bikers (motorcycles that is) When they pass they give a little sign. My dad is a biker and I always thought it was pretty cool!
    With that being said, I don’t judge others that don’t wave or say something. Running can be a time for self reflection and promotes deep thoughts. It’s your own bubble- enjoy it!

  • Vaala â—ª July 23, 2012, 4:42 am

    I pretty much always smile and often say hello whether I’m running, road cycling or mountain biking (riding is normally the smile and head nod thing). Pretty much the only time I don’t is when I’m racing (even then I will if it’s a rogaine or an adventure race) or riding something really technical but I’ll still try. When you’re riding the singletrack on the hills you often have to stop for other riders going the opposite direction (or they stop for you). They will normally thank you and that always makes me smile. I’ve found that you can brighten someone’s day with a smile so it’s worth it, even if only one other person smiles back at you. I’ve seen stressed and grumpy looking people walking along who have broken into a smile when I’ve smiled at them and it’s like a ray of sunshine.

  • Erin July 23, 2012, 6:27 am

    I run a vicious out-and-back hill in our neighborhood, and find myself not wanting to wave on my way up, but will always on my way down. Sometimes I offer up a “you’re almost there!” when I start on my way down and pass someone on their way up near the top. People either love it or hate it!

  • jameil July 23, 2012, 7:07 am

    I am a waver with a hello because I often run in neighborhoods. It really annoys me when people don’t respond or steadfastly avoid eye contact. But most people cheerily say, “Good morning!” So that’s cute and it makes me happy!

  • Jacalyn July 23, 2012, 8:55 am

    I did a little test on my run the other weekend. I always smile and say hi/good morning when I run. Out of the 10 runners/walkers/cyclists I passed on my run, all 10 nodded/smiled and 9/10 said good morning. The only person who didnt say good morning was a cyclist who looked like he was on his last breath. I think this has to do with living in Texas. We (in general) are some friendly people.

  • Julia H. @ Going Gulia July 23, 2012, 9:36 am

    I do exactly the same as you in terms of the whole smiling thing: typically do the semi-smile (after figuring out if they’ll acknowledge me), unless I’m feeling tired/grumpy, and usually just in less crowded areas like my neighborhood. I also like to say (or just mouth) a quick “hello”, but again that requires a bit of assessment of the other person’s mood/personality 😛 Smiling at other runners always gives me a little pick-me-up while running because I feel like we’re in it together!

  • Tricia July 23, 2012, 9:38 am

    While walking my dog, I always smile and say hi or do a slight wave. When running, I sometimes smile and gesture and sometimes don’t. It depends on how my run is going, whether the other person is running, or whether I am on a track where a lot of other runners are. It’s odd to me how seemingly rude other people can be though – especially while I’m just walking and actually say hi. How do people just totally ignore that?! While honeymooning, my husband and I were shocked at how many people in the Lake Tahoe area would not reciprocate our greetings. East Coast all the way!

  • Danielle July 23, 2012, 9:39 am

    If I pass someone who is doing the same activity as me (i.e. we are both running) then I get really mad if they don’t return the ‘hi’ or smile that I give! Its like we’re both doing the same thing, we’re bonded on some level, acknowledge it!

    I try to be cheerful and offer a ‘good morning’ to anyone I see, but I admit it will depend on my mood sometimes, or the purpose of my run.

  • Courtney @ Brussel Sprouts and Beer July 23, 2012, 9:40 am

    This is too funny that you posted this debate because I was just having my own debate over this. I never know what you are supposed to do when you are running and pass somebody approaching you. I do always wave and often smile, depending on how friendly they look or if they wave back. I agree though, sometimes when you are out of steam and just giving the last leg of your run all you have, it sometimes feels so hard to put anymore energy into a simple wave or nod! Thanks for this post.

  • Joanne July 23, 2012, 9:43 am

    I always try to make eye contact and say Good Morning, or Hello. A fellow runner gets a big smile, if it’s a man, strolling along, I make sure to make eye contact and look confident when I pass for safety reasons.

  • Bobbie July 23, 2012, 9:52 am

    I always wave to other runners, bikers and walkers. I have waved at other exercisers and they didn’t wave back..I judged them. I feel like it’s a runner’s code of ethics thing…you always acknowledge fellow runners. However, during a race I usually don’t do that as I think most runners don’t. I think most of us are in race mode and trying to get thru with our best times and we are just way too focused. Anyway, I say I judge but not harshly…you never know what is going through a person’s mind. Like you said, they may be exhausted, having a bad day etc… However, it does always make me happy when another runner or exerciser acknowledges me. I feel like a member of a special club;)

  • Christin July 23, 2012, 10:01 am

    “Aren’t you the special snowflake?” Hahaha. Laughed out loud at that one. 🙂

    Like Caitlin, I default to the nod/slight smile and sometimes a finger-twitch in leiu of a wave. Unless I’m working really hard (pained grimace), lost in thought (blank stare), or feeling super friendly (smile/wave).

  • Alex July 23, 2012, 10:58 am

    I almost always nod and smile, even if the other person doesn’t acknowledge me. If it’s particularly miserable outside — very hot or pouring or icy/snowy — then I will definitely nod and smile as a show of commiseration. Oddly, though, I only do this with other people who are doing the same activity that I am — e.g., if I am running, I’ll smile at other runners but not walkers or cyclists. Not sure why… I guess I should start being an equal-opportunity smiler!

  • Ebernst July 23, 2012, 11:00 am

    I always try to wave and smile at other exercisers, but especially other runners. I feel like we are in some cool runner club when we do the runner wave…maybe thats just me?

    I also LOVE making friends while running and racing. I once started to talking to a guy during the last 2 miles of an 8 mile run and he was telling me all about how he was racing is first marathon the following weekend..super cool! Then I started chatting with a 70 year old man during a triathlon (i love making friends) and then missed on breaking 30 mins in my 5k by 9 seconds…. so I learned my lesson! 🙂

  • Laura Z July 23, 2012, 11:25 am

    OMG I am so happy you brougt this up. Sunday I was hiking a 14er here in Colorado. It’s hard and as I was working my way up and struggling mentally. A woman on her way down was trying to cheer people up and get them excitied. She got in my face and told me to smile. I’m not a violent person but smacking her crossed my mind.

    My advice is smiling is fine but do not get in someone’s face.

    I usually like to smile and nod. I basically follow the points you brought up.

    • Caitlin July 23, 2012, 11:35 am

      That is crazy.

  • Lisa July 23, 2012, 1:06 pm

    I wonder about this sometimes with running but mostly cycling–if I see another serious cyclist, the sometimes do the smile and nod thing. You can kind of gauge from the other person if they are friendly and going to do that.

  • Brigid July 23, 2012, 1:20 pm

    I interact when running the same way I do in normal life: I smile at strangers but don’t say anything unless they speak first. I like to think I’m a friendly antisocial person. Races are an exception, though. It would be weird to smile at all the dozens/hundreds of people passing me.

  • Jodie July 23, 2012, 2:34 pm

    I’m really enjoying these posts!
    I’m a smiler and sometimes say hello (typically when I’m on a low-traffic trail). I figure it doesn’t hurt to smile even if they don’t reciprocate… hopefully it’s 50/50 on me being considered weird or making someone’s day a little better – and the latter half makes that good enough for me. 🙂

  • Jen July 23, 2012, 11:36 pm

    I live in NZ and EVERYONE smiles. Even if you are driving a car which has cycle racks and you see a cyclist biking along, you will acknowledge one another

  • JennyO July 25, 2012, 8:53 am

    I was out running this morning (beautiful day), and I literally passed within two feet of someone and they did not acknowledge me. I smiled and said ‘good morning’ … it was sorta sad!

  • lauren July 25, 2012, 1:11 pm

    I usually go with the smile/half smile…sometimes a half wave and a whisper “hi”. I read the same article that said that if you wave and say “hi” people are more likely to remember you.
    Do you have any more tips for running alone? I love running in the morning, but the streets and bike path can be kind of empty.

    • Caitlin July 25, 2012, 1:14 pm

      do you carry a cell? thats my biggest piece of advice!

  • Melissa @ Be Not Simply Good July 25, 2012, 3:33 pm

    I typically do one form of greeting when I meet someone running – smile, nod, wave or hello. Whatever strikes my fancy.

    I’ve definitely heard, with regard to elevators and parking ramps – so it ought to apply to running too, that making eye contact and speaking to others is a good safety move. You’re letting the other person know that you looked at him/her (and could therefore identify him/her later).

  • Leiane July 31, 2012, 9:41 pm

    I live in a little town in Alabama where everyone speaks to everyone they pass no matter what. Whether I’m walking, at work or at the grocery store, it is VERY rare that I pass someone and they don’t acknowledge me. I lived away from Alabama for many years and it truly hurt my feelings when people didn’t automatically speak to me. I highly recommend it.

Previous post:

Next post:

Healthy Tipping Point