When do You Wave?

Running etiquette usually involves acknowledging other runners. Everyone does it differently. But how do you do it properly?

Some people do small waves, some do big waves. Some flick their wrists. Some nod their heads. Some shout something cheery. Some mumble something under their breath. Some look others directly in the eye, and others do everything possible to avoid eye contact. Some smile.


That all applies if you are running toward each other. But what if you are passing someone, or they are passing you? Wave as we’re passing? That can be awkward. Mumble something encouraging?

And how does a race situation change it? On an out-and-back race, rarely do the fastest runners acknowledge the rest of us coming the other way. But those not quite as competitive are more apt to be encouraging and friendly.

I have learned that runners definitely do not wave at cyclists. And if you are cycling, you do not wave at runners. This is especially hard to remember if you are training for a triathlon. Back when I was switching my running and biking every day and not fully conscious which sport I was doing that day, I occasionally had to swallow a wave (pretend there was a mosquito) to keep from looking foolish.

I suppose it is a cultural thing too. Different countries would develop different ways to appropriately acknowledge each other. It would be different for urban versus smaller town folks. City versus trail runners. I haven’t studied this in depth but I’ve passed a lot of runners. I’d love to know if anyone has any insight.

When I am doing my speed work I am more focused and less likely to acknowledge others. When I am on a lonely trail I am more likely to acknowledge someone than when I am on a busy urban pathway.

Does anyone have any rules of etiquette to share around?

Which are the friendliest cities to run in?

Author: Kevin

Just a trail runner in Calgary and beyond

5 thoughts on “When do You Wave?”

      1. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone high 5 except at races. But good point! I’ve only high fived during a marathon the shorter races spectators seem fewer and less enthusiastic. The to be honest I notice that Californians for some reason are more stand-offish even the runners I find it hard to start conversations with people because they look at you like your a nut case for talking to them… Most people I end up talking to are people from out of state; strange right?

        Liked by 1 person

  1. It’s an interesting question. I generally acknowledge people if they seem friendly and open to it. Sometimes if I am struggling or doing speed work or whatever, I am too in my own head to acknowledge anyone, but will respond. Like USA Baker, I don’t make much of a distinction between runners, cyclists, etc. if we are sharing the same path. In a race, unless I am running with someone, I don’t generally say anything just because I don’t want people to misinterpret it.

    Liked by 1 person

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