The Runner Wave

If you are running on the street and you see me dressed like this…


I’m going to wave at you.

And you should probably wave back, or else I am going to think you are a jerk.

It’s called the “Runner wave”, people. Do it.

The “Runner wave” is something that has been going on for a ba-zillion years (okay, maybe not a ba-zillion years… but a long time!)

It is a sign of respect among runners everywhere.

It’s a way of saying “Hello! You are a runner, therefore I like you and I hope you have a great run”.

 It looks like this…


only WAY less dorky.

(Please don’t laugh at me, I am sensitive.)

During the SLO Half Marathon this last weekend,

(I swear, I will eventually stop talking about it)

a girl ran past me at mile 8 and gave me the “Runner thumbs up”.

To me, the “Runner thumbs up” is even better than the “Runner wave”.

It says “Hello! You are a runner, therefore I like you. Keep going, you are doing great!”


With that thumbs up, I picked up my pace and went on to smash my previous PR by over 5 minutes.

That one thumbs up was all that I needed to keep going.

If you see someone on your next run who looks a little grumpy,

 give them the “Runner wave”!

If you see someone who is in need of a little encouragement,

give them the “Runner thumbs up”!

A single wave could change the course of someone’s run, or even their day.



45 thoughts on “The Runner Wave

  1. serious male says:

    Two gestures that say it all. What I love about the thumbs up is that you can always manage one, even if you are barely holding on. It can take on so many more meanings, depending on the context, including: you are great, I am struggling, but we are both runnners.

    If you have 4 minutes, please check out what I wrote about the runers greeting the day before last.


  2. Madison says:

    I agree! I was doing a hard speed workout this week and a guy (obviously a runner) on a bike gave me a thumbs up and said “good job, you are doing great.” That made the difference for me to finish the workout strong as opposed to slacking. I love the running family!


  3. barefoottc says:

    Great blog post! Over here in the UK, we’re a bit more self conscious and tend to opt for the rather subtle yet still meaningful runners nod…we just quickly and ever so slightly tilt our head at each other as we run past!


  4. katiebarmantje says:

    Thank you for this! Can I add- make it a SINCERE wave? Just the other day I ran by another runner and waved and he just held up his hand without smiling or looking at me. As a fellow runner, I want more than acknowledgement- I want encouragement!


  5. Heather Irwin says:

    I’m a waver and even a “good morning” kind of gal. I love being part of the running community and I feel so blessed to be out there and healthy and running. I used to ride motorcycles and riders always give the head bob wave or whatever it’s called. I see guys do that alot and love it!


  6. My Pajama Days says:

    Congratulations on your first half! That is a great accomplishment – I ran my first half last year and felt like I couldn’t stop talking about it for months! It’s a high we don’t want to let go of, isn’t it? I look forward to following your running journey.


  7. thetraillesstraveled says:

    I often give the “nod and smile”. One of these days I’m going to come across a runner and say “Up top!” and give a high five. High fives are the best! One time I was running I received an applause from a driver/their passenger. At the time I thought perhaps they were being creepy but maybe they were just legitimately cheering me on! People whistling at me while I run will always be creepy to me though. Of course maybe if I still garner whistles as I age, I shouldn’t complain lol!


  8. canuckaphobia says:

    Thank you for talking about the wave! I’ve waved at many runners in Sacramento and hardly ever receive a return wave. Side-note, years ago I owned a Jeep Wrangler and all Wrangler owners wave at each other in passing. Same code of returned waves and everything. It keeps the community strong.


    • ratherberunnin says:

      Yes! Thank you for waving! It sounds to me like there are some people in Sacramento who don’t know about the runner wave… I think we need to share this blog post with them to do some educating. Anyway, keep up the good work and spreading the runner love!


    • sarahwinemaker says:

      It’s a Jeep thing. I have a Liberty and get it all the time. My Creative Writing teacher in college used to talk about how people did it to him in his Jeep Cherokee, I never believed him till we got our Jeep, years later…. how funny!


  9. Mary says:

    Agreed! The runner’s wave is a great form of encouragement! Sometimes for those who aren’t comfortable with a full out wave, a nod or a smile do the trick as well!


  10. jenereesa says:

    LOVE this! I’m a big fan of giving props to other runners. When I’m in the car and I pass by a runner I’m always silently cheering for them in my head (and okay, sometimes out loud). GO RUNNERS! WE ARE AWESOME!


    • ratherberunnin says:

      YES! I totally do the same thing! Good job!!! I love the comrodery that runners feel towards each other. I might not know you, but if you run, we are automatically best friends in my book!


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