Runners are weird. We run in spandex and compression gear and suddenly want to wear it everywhere. We count tenths and even hundredths of a mile; we measure minutes per mile, not miles per hour. We carbo-load while others do the Atkins Diet. We spend more on a pair of shoes than some people spend on their monthly utility bill. We even have our own mid-run language with which we greet other runners. I give you some of the more common runner greetings:
The sing-song: This is the chipper runner. They may sing-song a "Hell-lo" or "Good morning" to you. Depending on where you are in your run, this will either encourage you or make you extremely angry. You will respond accordingly, with a kind reply or a grumble that disguises an "Oh, shut up."
The grimace: This runner wants to smile at you and extend a friendly greeting, but they cannot bring their face muscles to do it. Perhaps all the blood has left their face to tend to the muscles doing all the work. What they intended to come out as a smile may come out instead as a strange facial contortion, leaving you wondering if you make them want to hurl. Take heart; they would smile at you if they could.
The nod: This person has only slightly more energy than the grimacer, meaning they are able to muster up a head nod for you. The central movement of the nod is found in the chin - it either dips down or up. For those with energy levels somewhere between the nod or grimace, you may see a slight eyebrow lift.
The wave: The wave can come in a few forms, though the most common seems to be created with a bent right elbow, palm facing toward the oncoming runner, fingers spread. Sometimes accompanied by a mild smile or nod, the wave signals your fellow runner is pretty friendly.
The stare-straight-ahead-with-intensity: This person is pretending like they are running too intensely to see you. Unless you happen to be passing Ryan Hall while he is running an Olympic trial, it is unlikely that your fellow runner cannot see you. I don't like these people; they take the community out of running.
The heavy-breather: This person is either half-dying as a result of extreme exertion (unlikely), or they want you to think they are working hard. Typically, their lips will form an O-shape as they push air out in order to make a noise that is as intimidating as it is unattractive. Unless they happen to be sprinting up a gigantic mountain, this noise is likely for dramatic effect only.
The improved-form: This person will visibly straighten their back, lock their elbows into 90 degree angles, and land with a perfect mid-foot strike every time. They also will be looking straight ahead, which may mean a combination of improved form and stare-straight-ahead-with-intensity greetings. Still, this improved-form greeting could be accompanied by one of our friendlier greetings, such as the wave.
The stare-intently-at-watch: The cause for this greeting may be multi-fold: 1) The runner is too nervous to make eye contact, 2) The runner is too intimidated by you to make eye contact, 3) The runner wants you to think they are intently pacing themselves by watching the seconds tick by, and/or 4) The runner is nearly dying from exertion and cannot wait to reach their planned running time.
Can you think of any others? What's your greeting of choice?