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?

Should I Run Today? – Decision Tool

To run or not to run today, that is the question.

Have you ever had trouble deciding if you should go for a run? Well you aren’t alone. We all have those indecisive days.

Introducing this FREE simple tool to help you decide if you should run today.

Just input 7 factors including the weather (from “perfect” to “hurricane”), how you feel (“not feeling it” to “awesome”), how long ago your last date was, and the importance of the other things you could be doing instead of running.

The tool makes the decision for you.


Bonus feature: This tool can be used as ammunition to prove to your loved ones that yes indeed you do need to go on another run. “It says so, right here”

And it is fast enough that if you are lying in bed at 4:30AM trying to decide whether to get out on that run, you can find out in mere minutes before your brain kicks in.

So why not get started with these 7 simple questions.

Step 1) Click here to enter the decision factors.

Step 2) Come back to this blog page and refresh this post to find out below if you should run today.

We can’t leave these important decisions to our own hapless selves. Let a computer do it for you.

When is Too Sick to Run?

Flu season is awful. And we are in the middle of it, at least in our part of the world. If you’ve stayed healthy this far into the winter, there’s a pretty good chance you are not going to make it much further before hitting the meds and taking a few days off.

What do we do when we are trying to get all our training sessions in but sickness is threatening to derail the training. We are all worried about lost training days, especially the closer it gets to the event. And this time of year there are so many people ramping up their training for spring races.

Around here, the weather has been unseasonably warm for several weeks now, and the sun is inviting me to get outside as much as possible. But two days ago I woke up with a low grade fever and sniffles. It slowly got worse and today I am taking the day off work. I haven’t run in several days, even though my legs are aching to get out there. And my training has had a rotten start to the year so far. So I need to hurry up and get on with the regimented training. The pressure is on.

How do you decide whether to run or not?

Everyone has their own line in the sand when to cancel that run. The answer is not a simple one and can often be influenced by how critical a particular training run is to our running goals.

Here’s the rules of thumb that I try to stick with for myself, but aren’t necessarily true for anyone else.

Don’t Go – Throwing up, fever, coughing, dizzy. Take meds, go to the doctor, stay in bed. No brainer!

Go Anyway: Technically sick but…  “Just” the sniffles, foggy brain, low energy, “just” feeling rotten. Sometimes a short run will temporarily improve things a bit.

If it is not obvious whether to go or not, my rules:

  • if the cold is neck and above, get on out there. The fresh air does most of us a lot of good.
  • If it a lung / chest cold, better stay home. Don’t be coughing up a lung on a run.
  • Any level of fever – Stay home!

Remember that a few days (or even two weeks) of not running is not going to reduce your fitness. It may eat away at you psychologically but it is far better to get better first so you can put in solid training. A return to solid training after a few days off is way better than mediocre training when you’re feeling rotten.

Get better, and train on.


What are your criteria on when to cancel that scheduled run?


A little stretching, a little running

I was looking forward to my day off work. Well it ended up being afternoon off work by the time I finished some critical emails.

So let’s see, let’s start off with a little stretching: hams, quads, hips, abs. 20 minutes. Good enough.

Made lunch for the family – no heavy lifting there.

Ran. Ran errands that is. Drove here and there. Did stuff. Got home. Forgot stuff. Ran more errands.

Ran 5k. Finally. Got my run in. Listened to some music. Fired up by some oldies. Ran fast. Maybe, coulda, shoulda run further, but, nah, good enough.

Took the family to the outdoor skating rink. That was fun. Played tag, did some speed work, spins, twirls, and had some laughs. Could’ve stayed longer, but the family was tired.

Had dinner and am now enjoying the quiet house. So I’ve settled in to write a blog.

It was a good day.

A little fun at the skating rink


Reward yourself with a run. You’ve earned it

Some people reward themselves with chocolate and Dairy Queen. Some people read a book. Some people have alone time. And some people go out with friends for a treat.

But I treat myself by going for a run. The longer the better. If it is by myself even better. The best is on a lonely in the trail in the mountains. If I wake up the next morning all stiff, I know it was a good one.

I sometimes feel selfish when I run so I need to balance life with running.

Others think I’m masochistic but I’m just fueling a need to get out there and go long.

I know I’m not the only one. Go for it. Reward yourself with a run. You’ve earned it.




The Crafty Northern Sidewalk Snake

One of the lesser known dangers of winter running in Canada is the crafty Northern Sidewalk Snake. For those who are unfamiliar with this native of Canada these snakes are usually only seen in the few coldest winter months. They can be coloured bright yellow, orange, and sometimes red. They like to stretch themselves across sidewalks late at night. If they are noticed in time a vigilant pedestrian will cautiously move around or step over quietly.  Those not paying attention have been known to panic as they sidestep the snake trying not to disturb it or to trip over it. Those not careful can easily injure themselves in the sudden movements and can potentially harm this mostly dormant species. Angry pedestrians have been known to fight back by assaulting these passive creatures.

Urban legend holds that the snakes can perceive a runner approaching and will often jump imperceptively fast up to 12 inches straight up, purposely tripping the runner. Many a runner will attest to being assaulted by these creatures. Hospitals are inundated at this time of year by snake-induced injuries.

With the temperatures hovering around -5 C to -10 C there are only a few out, but when the temperatures drop much below that they seem to come out in hordes stretching themselves along the sidewalks. Inexplicably, their numbers multiply exponentially as the evenings stretch to nighttime, and by morning most have disappeared again.

So if you are a runner, run earlier in the evening when there are fewer out. Watch for especially dark areas, where the most active, seemingly vengeful snakes lie. One preventative measure to being surprised by these terrors is to wear headlamps in the dark winter evenings to eliminate the shadows. Of course, the best precaution is vigilance.



Some homeowners, have resorted to providing alternate crossing locations so the snakes can cross without interfering with passers-by. These crossings are often located above the pedestrians head level which can be unnerving but is a safe alternative. Many snakes lives have been saved from irrate pedestratians by installing these contraptions. Also, many a runner has been kept free from injury by these ingenious devices.


This snake is still working his way across the sidewalk crossing contraption.



This deluxe model swivels out of the way during the warmer months


All experienced runners in Canada know to respect the sidewalk snake. Be aware, be safe.

PS If you don’t live in a climate where you’ve ever heard of a car block heater, you’ve probably never heard of these sidewalk snakes. But they do exist, and they’re nasty.

50 Lessons in 50 Days in 50 Runs

Today was my 50th day running in a row.

I know, you think I’m crazy. Most people do. But like they say, running is cheaper than therapy.


I previously posted about someone doing a 50 day running streak and posting 50 things they learned. I don’t think I could come up with 50 things, but this is a great list.

Here’s the start. Link to the rest is below.

50 things I’ve learned during my 50-day running streak

by Matt Frazier

1. I finally understand those “Running is Cheaper than Therapy” t-shirts. The difference in my mood before and after my run is so noticeable that my wife has several times suggested (on certain, grumpy mornings) that I make today an early run day. And rightly so.

2. You can dramatically lower your breath rate (and as a result, your heart rate) if you learn to breathe through your nose and focus on taking more steps per breath.

3. If you don’t have the same trigger for your run every day (waking up, lunchtime, etc.), it’s easy to forget, and find yourself running at dusk to keep the streak going.

4. On that note, running hills right after dinner is a terrible idea.

5. You can go from zero motivation to full-on, can’t-think-about-anything-else mode in only two weeks or so. The key, for me, was inspiring reading and using the tools of habit change to get started.

6. The 10% rule really doesn’t matter much.

7. Hiking up hills can be a much better exercise than struggling to run up them, especially if you’re training for a trail race where you’ll have to hike.

49. A daily run is the perfect trigger for a quick set of pushups, situps, pullups, or whatever you choose. These things are so easy to do, and so easy not to do. Running every day has helped me to remember to do them.

50. This has been way too good, for both my body and mind, to stop at 50 days. I guess it’s 100 or bust!

41 more at this link: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/50-lessons-running-streak

Thanks Matt for these insights!

Now I need to decide if I am going to continue this streak. But for today, I’m putting my feet for the rest of the day.


Oh, for Longer Socks

You know that space between the top of your socks and the bottom of your tights. It’s part of your ankle that you don’t really notice. And no one else notices it either.


It’s not noticeable UNLESS there is a lot of snow you are trudging through. Or it is really cold out. Then you really notice that inch of skin. That inch of skin suddenly becomes the most important part of the body.

Pull your socks up higher. Pull your tights a little lower. Just frustrating.

I haven’t gotten frostbite on my ankles yet but it can be really frustrating when I pick the wrong socks for a run. I need to hide those short socks a little deeper in the drawer so they don’t come out at this time of year.

Most running socks are short. But some are even shorter. They’re designed that way for fair weather running. Not winter running.

Most of my longer socks are cotton. Not great for running in, period.

My tights are just a bit too short. I do have looser wind pants that I can wear for running that go a little lower, but I usually only pick those as a second pair to go over the tights.

Putting all the right pieces together becomes all too important when frostbite is a real threat.

Remember those leg warmers from the 80s? Well, in case you’re wondering, I’m not resorting to those. Any other ideas?

Cross-Training in the Snow

Cross-country skiing makes for great cross-training. But you’ve obviously got to have snow. And snow we have! The mountains have amazing conditions these days. And even just skiing from our house has good enough snow.


We have headed out two days in the row (maybe we’ll make it three if tomorrow’s weather is just as good). The temperatures have only been about -10 C, so not too bad, and the sun was very sunny today (as Dr. Seuss would say). But it could have been warmer as our toes and fingers can attest to. But when you’re newbie at it, you need to live and learn when trying out different numbers of layers. Next time we’ll be one notch smarter on that one.

Yesterday we skied to our local park, and made new tracks in the fresh snow.

Today we headed to some groomed trails in the Rockies. The trailhead was packed with cars, but the extensiveness of the trails meant we were mostly skiing in solitude.

With so many people out today, we thought perhaps we could try to copy the form of the more experienced skiers. We thought of listening for people chatting in Norwegian, Swedish or Finnish, and then copying them because they are always the Olympic champions. We will have to learn a few words in these languages for next time to know that it is Norwegian and not Greek or Bulgarian.

Benefits for the runner:

Long distance cross-country skiing really can work your lungs, especially with the hills. This lung-busting is great for running. The legs also get stretched in the months when you typically don’t put on a lot of running miles. And you discover different leg muscles that have never been sore before.

You use your arms a lot more in skiing than in running. So those shoulder’s, triceps, and abs get the workout they’re missing on the runs.

And one more benefit – you can spend your afternoon outside (instead of just playing inside with all those new electronic Christmas gadgets).



For me, cross-training is absolutely necessary. I probably run way too much and under use my non-running muscles. I need to continually find opportunities to do things other than running, to keep the muscles more balanced.

I’d encourage everyone to try something new this winter, as you take a break (however slight) from running.


We are all in this together


Gluttons for punishment. That’s what winter runners are. On icy sidewalks. In freezing fog. Blizzards. Treacherous trails. Whatever gets thrown our way.

That’s what sets us apart.

We are all in this together.

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