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Conversations with Runners I Never Meet

Every day I have conversations with runners I don’t know and who don’t know me. 

These chats are in my mind with the runners I see out for their daily runs.  I might be running or driving when I spot them in the neighborhood, on the trails, and at the local high school track.  For me, it’s a dialogue with complete strangers.

Start When I see them, a whole host of questions race through my mind.  I wonder if they are having a good run?  What keeps them going?   How did they get started?  Are they fitness runners?  Do they run to compete?  Are they leaving an unhealthy lifestyle in the past?  Or are they chasing a dream?

It takes every ounce of strength on my part to resist stopping them to ask these questions.  But I don’t stop because it’s not my place to interfere with their privacy, their focus, and their purpose.

Instead, I just want to shout out to them.

Way to go!

I’m proud of you!

You’re accomplishing something special!

You’re making yourself a better person!

You’re awesome because you’re a runner!

Sometimes I don’t even see their faces, but that doesn’t matter.  Because no matter which direction they are running or I am going, I admire every runner I see.

And we never exchange a word, but I look up to them and wish them well because they are runners.


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I always want to honk and give a thumbs up but I'm afraid they'll think I'm a perv or something. I especially get excited if I see someone running in bad weather. I am so happy for them that they are out braving it and such a die hard.

I did high five someone once as I was going up a huge hill and he was coming down and said, "thanks, I wanted to quit but you kept me going!"


I hate to admit this, but before I started running, I made fun of runners. It made no sense to me why they would put themselves through all of that.

Now, I'm the complete opposite. I find myself more jealous than anything. That, and I feel their pain, both figuratively and literally.


I agree Tom. I feel so proud of our fellow runners even though I do not know them I know all the hard work they put in to it to keep going forward! GO RUNNERS!


I'm the same as everyone else. I always want to shout encouragement to runners, but don't want them to take it the wrong way since they don't know me. But no matter what their story, I know for sure that they're taking time out of their busy life and dedicating it to their health, and that speaks volumes!

If only there were some online community we could all connect at to clear up these confusions.... A lounge, of sorts. For runners... I wonder if anybody has come up with that idea?


That settles it... starting today - I am "woo hoo ing" and cheering all runners I see. None of us would think the other runner is "weird". 'Cause deep down..."we are all different but we share a common sole." Corny or not - it is true.


Doug, that's a brilliant idea!

I'm sure there is some way we can connect runners and build that running community. I'll mention it to my friend Amy and see what she thinks.

BTW, wouldn't it be wonderful if there was a universal gesture or tap on the car horn intended just for runners that means "Great job!"

William carter

Hi Tom

Aren't runners just the nicest people?? I always try to make some gesture of acknowledgement as I see people on my trail runs. Catch their eye and give them a friendly wave or the head nod that says "Nice to have met you even if just for this brief encounter". I do agree that we need a universal friendly runner honk or some method of giving a little "way to go!". I've certainly thought what Nancy said.. I am always a little concerned that a runner might think "hey, what is he looking at?1? But then if I am being realistic, these are runners we are talking about and they are some of the nicest, least judgmental people around.. it is all good.

Thanks for caring about running and us runners.


What a great way to look at other passing runners! I can't wait to run outside on a regular basis again.

Database Diva

Have you ever visited San Francisco? We were there last week, and as always I was amazed by the number of people out running. No matter what time of day we were out and about, there were people out running. Most were out solo, some were with a dog, others ran in groups of 2 or 3. The majority of the solo runners were wearing head phones. During an evening stroll, we passed at least 30 runners in a 15 minute period. They made it look so pleasant, I wanted to join them. My poor tired quads had a different opinion. If I had to pick a "best city for running", I would pick San Francisco, even though they have some wicked hills. Washington DC would be a close second. Tom, I think your head might be spinning ;)


I am glad I read this post today. Last night I was given the okay by my doc to start running after a 3-month pelvic fracture recovery. Although it was only a mile, I feel this morning like I am back in the running community. When I was on the injured list, I resented runners. I couldn't even make eye contact with them. For the first few weeks of my injury I would actually choke up when I passed by runners. I had to completely avoid areas where I used to run through.
But, before that, I used to run early in the mornings. Even if I had music blaring, I made eye contact with each runner, nodded my head, and said "morning" loud and clear. Nearly everyone else did the same. Just that simple gesture can connect runners. By being aware of everyone I passed, I began to notice my morning "regulars". It provided a sense of comfort to see the same people each morning. In my recovery, I wonder if they think about me. Do they wonder where I went? Will they recognize me once I return to my normal running routine?
So please, everyone, even if you live in an "unfriendly" city, make an effort on your next run to "morning" or "evening" everyone you pass. Go connect with other runners!


What a great way of describing the motivation we get from online connections to other runners. I love encouraging people too.


What a great way of describing the motivation we get from online connections to other runners. I love encouraging people too.

Bob Allen

I have really enjoyed the few times I've been on a solo run and hooked up with someone I didn't know. If our paces are close, it's nice to chat for a few minutes and talk about running. So, if you're ever running in Short Pump, VA and see me, pull alongside and ask the questions -- it makes the miles go by easier.

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so wonderful airticles! i agree with your viewponit very much. Maybe we will become very good friend in the future. tks...


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This is the one we did, isn't it??? It's one of my all time favorite runs.

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