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Running etiquette: Are You a Waver?

Last month, The Wall Street Journal published an article on a very important topic that runners and cyclists often face: Are you a “waver”? Basically, author Jason Gay discusses whether athletes wave – or at the very least nod – at fellow runners and/or cyclists when they too are out and about getting their sweat on.

Waving during Harrisburg Marathon

Waving during Harrisburg Marathon

Me? I am absolutely a waver. I always have been. In fact, I am sort of offended when someone doesn’t wave or nod back. Why so unfriendly? You’re running or cycling, enjoy it!

I typically run in and around Front Street in Harrisburg because it’s flat and I live right there, so it’s convenient. (Note: Murders and kidnappers, please do not use this information to your advantage, thank you.) Anyway, I’ve found that the majority of people will wave or nod back at you around that path.

In fact, one of my now-running buddies first approached me about doing some miles together because he told me, “You’re always smiling and look so happy and excited to be running.”

Well, that is true.

I will agree with Gay that my accuracy is not 100%, I mean, I don’t always always wave, but I really try to. Sometimes, I am just having a bad run and can only manage a nod. I also realize that to some people, taking the time to wave or nod is a distraction from their super serious run. I still wave to everyone.

Last month, I spent a few days in Ocean City, New Jersey with family. There is a very narrow strip of the boardwalk designated for runners (the majority of space is dedicated to walkers, bikers and surreys), so each morning, I took great pleasure in putting on my sneakers and claiming my space in that “Runners” column.

Boardwalk run

Boardwalk run

However, I quickly noticed something. No runners were waving back or even greeting my enthusiastic waves with a nod. None. No one was making eye contact with me whatsoever. How could you not be smiling and waving when you’re running directly next to the beach? With the ocean crashing to your left, the stores and houses along the boardwalk to your right and the sweet smells of the beach cuisine and that “beachy scent” enriching the entire running experience? I was practically doing jazz hands, I was so thrilled.

But, I got the hint. By my last day, and last lap back, I stopped waving and smiling at everyone, I just smiled to myself the whole time. And then, during my last mile, a middle-aged runner going the other way lifted his hand in a sign of a greeting. But I was too late to respond. I wanted to chase after him – “Hey! Have a great run!”

But I controlled myself and kept on, finishing my miles. And then I started waving again, just in case.

Are you a waver?



3 thoughts on “Running etiquette: Are You a Waver?

  1. Scott on said:

    I am waver, my usual path rarely has anyone on it, except maybe a dog walker. When I do see a runner they almost always respond to a wave or nod, but dog walkers ignore me often and it does offend me. Often my runs are just after sunset or just before sunrise, start or finish your day positively and respond to me!

    Just last night I waved and said hello to a dog walker who turned and looked at me as I approached, he turned away without even a nod. I thought about how much of a jerk he seemed for the next quarter mile. :)

  2. Monica on said:

    I’m a waver!! I wave at runners, cyclists, walkers, dog walkers, etc. Sometimes I get upset if I don’t get the wave or nod back…
    My usual runs are in Enola so I don’t usually pass too many people. I also walk my dog almost every day around Enola…and I’m also a waver then as well!

  3. Ashley on said:

    I run along Front St as well, waving or nodding depending on how much of a struggle run I’m embarking on :) I just started running about 2 years ago when I lived in Philly, and most of the other runners there acknowledged each other, so I started waving then. It’s encouraging to me as a novice runner to see that 1. I may be running along, but I’m not alone and 2. Others love hitting the pavement as much as I. Since moving back to Hbg however, I noticed that many people running don’t so much as glance at other runners. I will continue to wave – hopefully others will as well one day!

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