Waking up before the sun to get in our miles is something we all enjoy or dread. Out on the road alone with mist on the grass or snow on the ground, often times the paths of two runners will cross at such an hour and a decision is made… to wave or not to wave.

In a February (2009) issue of Runner’s World there was a wonderful article that covered such a conundrum. (Waver’s Dilema, by Robert Sullivan) It defined a ‘wave’ as any acknowledgement of the other runner(s) including the general wave, a nod, a hello, a hey, a good morning or any grunt you can muster.

Essentially everyone is broken into two groups: wavers and non-wavers.


Perhaps wavers see it as a way of acknowledging the commitment and dedication to those of us that wake early to get our runs in. Or maybe it’s a single moment where a nod or wave expresses the unspoken “shared experience” where 2 people out of millions cross a path on the same pavement at the same time. As wavers, are we too sensitive if the other runner doesn’t wave back? Do we feel slighted and should we be?


As for non-wavers, there is no need to acknowledge the other runner. We don’t wave at everyone we pass in a Marathon or road race. We’re out there to accomplish one thing: a good run. Maybe even a tough run. Concentration is needed on maintaining pace and form. Are our intentions to hurt a waver’s feelings? No, we can share that same moment of two runners passing at the same point and time in silence and continue down the road.

So there it is, a brief description of what each side may be thinking… let the conversation begin: to wave or not to wave. Share your thoughts or experiences in the comments section below.

Chalk me up as a waver/nodder.

How about you? Do you acknowledge other runners?