How To Pass By Other Runners: 3 DOs, 3 DON’Ts

Running etiquette: it's a minefield. How do you avoid offence, distress or an international incident?


DO Be Aware That You Look Insane

You may not have realised this, but your face while running is roughly 5,000% more weird and unnerving than your everyday going-about-your-business face.

A disturbing mixture of eerie calm, wide-eyed concentration and pained determination, it’s just a wee bit… murderer-y.

Look, it’s fine in small doses, but if you’re going to point it at someone and unblinkingly hold their gaze for more than a second, don’t be surprised if they shit themselves/cross over to the other side of the road/ready their keys to be used as eye-gouging weapons of self-defence.

DON’T Be A Leering Sex-Case

Yes, that approaching runner may be incredibly attractive, and his/her manbits/ladybobs may be hypnotically jiggling around like excitable, sexy kittens, but for the love of all that is holy, you must resist taking even a momentary glance at them. You must.

The moment your eyes zoom ‘there’ your perviness will be clocked by the other runner

Not only is it ungentlemanly/unladylike to cop a sly eyeful, you can guarantee that the moment your eyes zoom ‘there’, your perviness will be clocked by the other runner, who’ll then glare at you, at which point your gaze will rise to meet theirs, and you’ll realise that they caught you perving, and you’ll have to swiftly look away in stricken shame, and oh God oh God oh God

This entire silent exchange will be over inside three seconds, but that won’t make it any less mortifiying for either party. It’s simply not worth it.

DO Perform ‘The Nod’

The Nod is by no means mandatory – you’ll need to decide whether it’s appropriate on a case-by-case basis. But it is the one universally accepted form of communication between runners, and if you fire The Nod off and receive The Nod in return you’ll get a warm’n’fuzzy feeling, like you’ve just met a fellow covert member of the Worldwide Underground Conspirational Illumaniti Sect Of Runners (WUCISOR).

A middling half-Nod can easily be misconstrued as no Nod at all

Unsure how to perform The Nod? Well, as we’ve previously detailed elsewhere: “It’s a momentary tilt of the head, as if acknowledging a distant relative from across the room at a funeral. No smile required (in fact, it’s kind of weird if you do).”

If you are planning to crack The Nod off at a passing fellow runner, please ensure that you see it through and enact it with conviction. A middling half-Nod can easily be misconstrued as no Nod at all, leaving you open to the risk of being left hanging, with no reciprocal Nod. And you’d better believe that that cuts like a knife.

DON’T Do A Weird Little Salute-Wave

If your run is going particularly well, and you’re feeling like everything’s cool and amazing with the world, you may find yourself involuntarily greeting fellow runners with a cheery little two-fingered wave-salute. “Heeey now!” it says. “Let’s hear it for runnin’, amirite?”

It makes us Brits feel awkward. We don’t know how to respond

Now, that shit might fly in America, where public displays of jubilancy and enthusiasm are positively encouraged, but it just makes us Brits feel awkward. We don’t know how to respond, like we’re Hugh Grant being forced to engage in a complicated hip-hop handshake.

DO Run On The Left

On a narrow-ish path? Not much room to pass by that oncoming runner? Go to the left. The other runner will also naturally veer to their left, because in Britain, we drive on the left.

In Britain, we drive on the left

Should you ever find yourself in the same situation on the continent, you’ll need to go right, because the other runner will veer to their right. We’re not even making this up, this is honestly just how it works. It’s deeply ingrained. It’s the law (kind of).

DON’T Speak

It’s simple science: there’s no way two people running past each other can possibly have anything approaching a productive verbal exchange (unless they’re both moving at a truly geriatric pace).

It prangs the uptight and overly polite British psyche right up

By the time you’re close enough to the approaching runner to fire off a “Hiya, alright?” at them, you’ll already be passing them by, leaving them A) wondering if you actually just said something, or if they imagined it, and B) feeling awful for not responding to you, if in fact you did say something, and were not just breathing weird.

It’s the kind of thing that prangs the uptight and overly polite British psyche right up, so shush your face. You want to chit-chat? Go round your nan’s.

Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.