Monday, June 7, 2010

My Trail Rant

A recent podcast on Endurance Planet , called "The Rule",(listen to it here) got me to thinking about the trail greeting. You know the trail greeting right? Or maybe you don't. Let's start with a question, Are you a runner that says hello, or good morning to other runners as you pass by them? Yes or No?

For years I have been a yes man. I greet everyone I see on the trails. EVERYONE! I've commented in the past about how good this makes me feel. Not just because I'm a good friendly citizen role modeling the right thing to do, but because it really makes me feel good. A smile and a greeting seems to always take away the pain of a long and sustained effort...for a little while at least. I don't know that there's science behind it, but smiling must release some sort of happy enhancer into your blood stream.

This past weekend I ran a good four hours from home, up Capilano Canyon and to Deep Cove with a couple of incredible guys. We laughed and chatted the entire way. On the trail that same day was a bunch training for North Vancouver's Knee Knacker. They had started ahead of us so they were passing us on their way back. I would guess that most of them intended to say nothing to us at all, until we spoke first. "Good morning", we'd say. And their eyes would shoot up with shock and awe as they scrambled for a response. Others didn't bother with a response at all. They didn't have music on, they weren't deaf, and they weren't going too fast. I'm confused about this. I always have been. You're out in the forest, far from any cars or amenities, or people, and you pass by a fellow runner without even a nod of trail runner's camaraderie? That's weird.
Are these people in their happy, zen running place? Are they too cool for others? Do they think they're training run will be spoiled if they speak to someone? Are they scared to make eye contact with a stranger? By the look on her face, and based on previous encounters with her, I can tell you one such runner past by us without a word because she was definitely too cool for us. She even accelerated to let us know just how good she is. Without a doubt she's fast, but that doesn't dismiss friendliness.

WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? People can't afford to treat each other this way. A quick hand up wave, a nod, a smile, or even a grunt will suffice if you can't muster the courage for a hello or good morning. But for god sake, acknowledge your trail comrades. We're all out their together and nobody is too cool - I don't care who you are. Stay humble and say hello.

Check out this February 2009 article from Runners World on the same thing. I love the definition of waving he gives.


  1. Couldn't agree more. I always think it's super lame when people are so ignorant out there and I've even called some people out on it as we've crossed hard is it to say 'hey', or fake a half smile!

  2. "Fellow runners" disserve a greeting for sure. Often if people are coming at me on technical trails I am navigating, so eye contact is hard. But I am not a "Hello" guy at all to everyone I see. I like when people pass me from behind and I always say hello and a motivating comment.

  3. Thankfully Yarker is just far enough from Toronto that we don't experience that...hell, we don't even see other trail runners, so don't have to deal anyhow:)

  4. So far, it's seems people agree. So who are these folks that are snubbing us? I know it's not personal because I've never seen them before. Effectively it has the "hello-ers", me, wiglebot, Gary, and others, give up and stop saying their hello. Then the trails become even more unfriendly. Maybe that's it. Maybe these people have said hello to others earlier in their run and been snubbed. Now they're giving up so not to be snubbed again. Food for thought anyway.

  5. I only allow it to be a mild annoyance when others don't "HI" back because it's not worth ruining my run over. I don't get these people at all. You're right...there's something about acknowledging others on runs that gives a bit of a's like instant good karma for your own run. I could us as much of that as I can get so I'll keep greeting others on the trail...if you ever come and run in Minnesota, I'll say hi to you and smile! :-)

  6. Don't stop saying hi! Pls its bad enough having to deal with grumpy people in the city.

    It makes my day when people say Hey, Hi, Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Aloha or even just wave if they can't mustard the energy for verbal communication.

    One thing I ask is pls just don't judge me if I say "Good Morning" (because that's when I began my run) but it is actually afternoon. Sometimes I lose track of time during long runs.

    See ya on the trails soon :)

  7. You said it right, Katie. We must not stop our greetings. Just say it anyway, but like NJ said, don't let a no response ruin the day. So, say it, Mean it, and Run Now.

    Katie: are you going to a BBQ today? You brought up mustard kinda' randomly.

  8. Yeah, totally agree. Wankers.
    The only time that I sometimes don't acknowledge others, and again this is a *grey* area, are on out-and-back sections of an ultra, especially ones that have multiple ones. Sometimes I just don't feel talking to everyone...sorry.

  9. I think the out and back excuse is a pretty good one. Especially when you've already seen those people a few times that day. I think though, you'll find a burst in energy when you greet other runners in a truly genuine manner. The human spirit is so simple that way. Positivity out breeds positivity in.
    Thanks for the comment. Mr. Moogy.

  10. amen to all that. that's all i'll say because if you get me started i'll go rooster on those jerks...

    lazy trail runner