How should we Encourage Runners?

Good Morning!!

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I wanted to ask all of your opinions on the best way to encourage runners–especially those who are perhaps slower than you, or do not have the same passion and love for running as you do.

I have had this post written for a while, but was unsure how to word it and if it would come across how I meant for it!

A quick word regarding this post:

**I really hope I am wording this correctly and not coming across as a huge B*tch. I just wanted to ask others (your) opinions on encouraging runners whom you are faster than without coming off as condescending/rude/making-fun-of/better-than-you. Please read to the end… and let me know if this come off wrong!! Please!!**

I LOVE to wave, smile, and say Hi to other runners when out running! There is seriously nothing greater than someone out there, pounding the pavement, sweat dripping down their face, shirt wet against their back, face in a determined grimace. There is nothing more beautiful!!!

When I get passed by another, faster runner, I say “Hey” and “Keep it up!” — and it is almost always reciprocated!

When a runner is coming towards me, I always smile, wave and give a “Way to go!!” That common bond between runners is just plain awesome.

**But there are a few situations where I am more uncomfortable and not as quick to encourage… and this it is out of respect for their feelings that I am more hesitant to wave.**

There are two groups of runners thatΒ I feel slightly uncomfortable to encourage and “cheer on” when I am running.

The First Group: Extremely beginner Runners whom you fly around and pass.

-I LOVE when I see any runner out running.. literally my heart gets so happy! I just love runners and I love encouraging them! But I also feel “bad” when I pass someone… and I feel that saying “Good Job” when I run by might come off as condescending and “in-your-face”. This is so far from the meaning that I am trying to convey!!!Β 

-I find that most of the people I pass are dangerously overweight or obese, and seeing them out there, determined and trekking along, is the greatest sight. I so much want to just excitedly yell, “KEEP IT UP!! YOU ARE DOING SOO GREAT!!” But I picture if that were me, I would maybe feel embarrassed, annoyed, and frustrated if a girl ran by with a smile having so much fun while I was trying to put one foot in front of the other. (Maybe I am entirely speculating here… please tell me if I am way off base!)

The Second Group: Runners whom get frustrated and annoyed by your love and intensity of running.

-I am mainly addressing runners who really don’t like running but use it only as a cardio workout to stay in shape. That is totally fine… I have no problem with that! I applaud you for the dedication to stay healthy doing something you don’t even enjoy doing! Props!

I find that when I wave and encourage them… they get frustrated and annoyed by my clear LOVE of running and it turns them off from it even more. Many of the people I talk to about this think of runners as a “cult”. When I get all giddy and excited and smile at them on the road, it is like I am confirming this cult idea–I mean why would anyone find so much enjoyment in such a hard suffering activity!?!?! They must all be crazy and drinking the same kool-aid…

The last thing I want is to turn people off from running. That is the exact OPPOSITE of what I want! I get worried that for these two categories of runners, a kind “wave and smile” from another runner passing around them will do more harm than good.

But is ignoring them better? Is that the message of the running world?? NO. I am sure of that. The running world is anything BUT exclusive, cold, and “high-and-mighty”.

So what is the answer? PLEASE I would LOVE to hear your input!

I hope I worded this correctly and I deeply deeply apologize for anyone offended. it is 100% not my intention!!

Please have a Great Tuesday and realize how great you all are πŸ™‚

What advice to you have for me/others?

What is your favorite way to encourage/be encouraged when running, at the gym, spinning, etc?

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29 comments

  1. I think the sticky part about this is no matter how good our intentions are we are in our words/actions; we can never control how someone perceives or accepts them. I think that it is fantastic that you are so encouraging to all other runners, regardless of their skill. Your heart is definitely in the right place, and i think that is probably totally evident to anyone you encourage. I would just go for it- encourage away! If someone takes it the wrong way, boo for them, it’s their own mental issues getting in the way. 9 times out of 10 you’ll be making that runner’s day!! πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks SO MUCH for the feedback!! I think you are right… I want to keep encouraging! Thanks again I am glad to hear from you!!

  2. pickyrunner · · Reply

    I got this completely πŸ™‚ I have to say, for me I tend to not be one of those people that’s super encouraging when I’m running by people. It’s easier to just crack a big smile and wave and say hello. It’s hard for another person to understand, especially when we’re out of breath so the tone may be different for different people. If we ever run together though, you’ll be faster and I’ll still love you for encouraging me πŸ™‚

    1. hahahaha I would LOVE to run with youuu! Someday πŸ™‚
      I love to smile ((and it has been shown to relax you on runs and give you more power!)) so we can just cheesy smile at everyone around us!!

  3. Hey! Just to let you know-I’m definitely a slower runner. I’ve been running for almost 5 years now and even many of the cross country and track runners at my school know me as yet another “runner”, but I’m not fast at all! I LOVE when other runners smile and say something to quick to me when I’m out running (I think it’s so weird when I smile and they pretend I’m not there…) and would only feel odd if I felt like a fast runner said something different to me than they would to anyone else. I would maybe think that “keep it up!” was a bit rude, because I’m already planning on doing so, just like most of the other people out there are. Obviously, some people may take comments very differently, but I think you should just treat everyone the same.

    1. Thank you SO MUCH for the comment and feedback! I LOVE that you LOVE to run πŸ™‚ Happiest thing I get to hear! I am so glad to read your thoughts and I definitely agree with you– I would not like it if a faster runner said something different to me either.
      Glad to know that I should just keep smiling and saying hi like normal and just LOVE on all runners…. because Running is awesome πŸ™‚
      Thanks and have a great great day!

  4. I was encouraging runners at the race I ran on Saturday by cheering and clapping and saying “way to go!” “you’re doing great!” when I could see people were struggling. BUT I felt bad because I felt GREAT still at miles 8-10 (10 mile race) even though I was racing hard and I was dancing along to the music and cheering others on. I definitely think that if we’re genuine in our encouragement, there’s no reason to be ashamed. We cannot control how the other person interprets or receives our words!

    1. Yep i know what you mean!! That is why I was a little confused/wanted all of your feedback for situations like your race!
      I think you are right–we should just go on smiling and encouraging because we want to share the love and everyone deserves the running love πŸ™‚
      have a great one!

  5. I say just keep going with the smiles and waves… if someone is going to get annoyed and frustrated by someone being genuinely friendly and encouraging (like you are), then that’s on them… not you! I know that I always feel better when someone encourages me, whether that person is faster or slower than me. I can remember specific examples of runners saying β€œgood pace” or β€œthanks for pushing me” that made me happy for the rest of the day. Basically, if they’re gonna be grumps… get a treadmill and do it alone! hehe

    1. haha Love it! You are right! Get on a treadmill and off the trails! πŸ™‚ I also love when people wave and encourage me!

  6. You must have worded it correctly because I totally hear you. I’d say follow your heart, and greet them as you naturally would/as you’d hope a runner would greet you. I know what you mean about being unsure about how to encourage different groups of runners, but if I’m being passed by someone faster than me, I know that personally I like to be acknowledged and supported (and to return the greeting)–it gives me drive to pick up the pace. And it always feels nice to be a part of the running community (after all, is there ANY BETTER community than the running community?).

    Sometimes when I’m in these situations where I’m not sure, I feel out the individual as I approach them. For instance, I recently saw a woman out running very slowly who simply did not seem to be enjoying herself. As I approached, she started to look in the opposite direction and just seemed to be unhappy. Instead of remarking on her running (which seemed to be the LAST thing she’d want to talk to me about as I zoomed past her!), I said, “Good morning! This weather is AWESOME, isn’t it?” And she smiled and agreed–I may be wrong, but I felt like it was being encouraging, without being overly in her face about running.

    I’m like you, though. i say good morning to everyone. Sometimes people look away, but I just keep on keepin’ on!

    And like you, I hope I worded this correctly. I’m undercaffeinated at the office right now!

    -H

    1. YES! The running community is the greatest πŸ™‚
      What a great way to “feel them out”… so great and I know that women totally appreciated it!
      Thanks for the advice…. and you worded it beautifully! Very well said (typed?) !

  7. Always be encouraging and supportive. You never know how far the person has come. We are all on our own journeys πŸ™‚

    1. Love it! Simple and absolutely true! Thanks for it πŸ™‚ I will keep on wavin’ and smilin’! You too!

  8. This is a tough one, as you are right, I find that a lot of new or overweight or “slower” runners are very self conscience. I think “Keep it up” is safe to say. I think it’s a mindset too – whenever I’m passed by a faster runner, I’m like, wow he/she is fast – but you may be right that it makes others feel inadequate. Sometimes when I finish my run, I’ll stretch and clap or encourage other random runners I see going by.

    1. That is a GREAT thing to do! Clap and encourage others at the end! Love it πŸ™‚
      And I love when faster runs pass me and acknowledge me with even a head nod… makes me feel special! So I bet it is the same with others! I am just going to keep on smilin’! Have a good one!!

  9. emskiruns · · Reply

    There is one guy who runs at my local park run his name is Kev – this is know due to his fondness for wearing his macmillan cancer charity vest which is emblazoned with his nickname Big Kev! This is a guy who could probably run a 10k in the time it took me to run 5 and do you know what he does everytime he passes me speeding downhill while I am puffing, panting and struggling to get uphill?! He shouts come on you can do it. You’re doing awesome and fixes me with a massive smile and do you know what? It makes me feel great that someone who is so much better than me would acknowledge my hard efforts cos for me running is still really hard. But I appreciate that man so much and I hope he knows that he makes a difference to my run and I’m sure to others he encourages too.
    So please if you see new runners do give them a smile and maybe a keep going cheer I for one totally appreciate it πŸ™‚

    1. WOW. That is so great… I love hearing stories like that!I love when faster runners encourage me too… so I will keep smiling and cheering on others! Thank you so so much for your feedback… Have a great day!

  10. I am a slow runner. So it’s hard for me to think about this in your shoes, but as a slow runner, I can tell you a smile and wave is always appreciated. I don’t need someone to tell me to “keep it up”, but a wave, nod, or smile is benign and friendly and great.

    I think even runners who run just for cardio would give it up if they didn’t eventually love it. A wave or smile might encourage them to keep at it until they love it!

    1. Thank you so so much for the feedback! And I get passed ALL the time and I always love when they smile or just head no at me! You are right with “cardio runners”– if we share the running love they will learn to love it!! Yay my goal in life is to spread running love! haha Thanks again for your thoughts!! have a great evening!

  11. I know what you mean. I sometimes second guess myself when I say, “good for you” because it can come off wrong unintentionally.

    1. Well, it sounds like from the comments here that everyone loves hearing encouragment… so I think we should just all continue sharing the running LOVE and waving and smiling at people! Maybe it is what they need to keep going… and if they are grumpy… well, then maybe it will turn they day around!! thanks for sharing!

  12. I am a new, slow, runner, and would definitely appreciate an encouraging smile or kind words of acknowledgement. Slow runners know that there will be lots of other runners out there faster, but by acknowledging our efforts – you are encouraging us to keep at it -giving us hope that maybe someday we can ‘hang’ with the big kids (the faster runners).

    1. Thanks for commenting!! I love and appreciate so so much when a faster runner head nods and encourages me! It makes me feel like I “belong”… So I will keep smiling and waving at others! Thanks for your feedback and I know other runners love it when YOU share your love as well!

  13. […] thank you so much for the feedback from yesterday’s post.Β  Sounds like (hopefully) people understood what I was trying to convey! I was very worried about […]

  14. I love this post! I didn’t feel like you were being rude at all in voicing your concerns here. The only part that I felt was a little bit off (as a slow, overweight runner myself) was this:

    “I find that most of the people I pass are dangerously overweight or obese, and seeing them out there, determined and trekking along, is the greatest sight. …if a girl ran by with a smile having so much fun while I was trying to put one foot in front of the other.”

    I don’t think you said anything wrong, but I do think it is somewhat of a big assumption in thinking that someone overweight is not also having fun and is simply just trying to put one foot in front of the other.

    I run slow, I am overweight, and I have a TON OF FUN running. I don’t do it with the #1 goal of losing weight, I do it because I love it. In fact, though I know I have weight to lose, none of my running goals have to do with losing weight.

    I may be a slightly unique case because I have not always been overweight. Actually I have been underweight more often than overweight due to an eating disorder that I battled for many years. When I was underweight I was extremely unhealthy and weak and could NEVER have run even a mile. I would have blacked out (which I did do too often anyway). I run today, even at my highest weight ever, because it makes me feel strong and confident. I do it because I couldn’t have done it before even if I had more of a “runner’s body” back then… whatever that means. I run because I enjoy it and because it’s fun. Yes, I’m slow but please don’t confuse me for someone who is just trying to put one foot in front of the other. πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Kristina!
      First of all thank you so much for telling me (and others reading this comment) your feelings and thoughts on this. I absolutely understand what you are saying and am sorry that I didn’t not realize this sooner… because you are 100% right! That was a BIG assumption of mine that slower runners may not be having as much fun, and I am so sorry if you felt at all offended. I am so glad you brought this to my attention! I will be aware of this now!

      As someone who is currently recovering from an eating disorder, I am so happy to hear that you have discovered how much better your body responds to FUEL and FOOD and you are able to run for miles and miles (and do a Half soon!!) and not grow weary! I want you to know how ENCOURAGING that is for me to hear and it helps keep me going in the direction I need to. So THANK YOU. I am thrilled to hear about the confidence and strength you find in running. And one thing I have learned more and more throughout this process and through connecting with truly inspiring women out there (like you!) is that there is no such thing as a runenrs body. I forget that sometimes as I see the college cross country team effortlessly FLY by me in their little running clothes and sports bra… but at the start line of races when I see all the beautiful people at 7am shivering on the start line with big smiles on their faces, I remember that it is not at all about how we look, the time on the clock, the distance on our GPS watch… it is all about the EMPOWERMENT that comes from running.
      It is beautiful, and we ALL are beautiful when we participate in it.

      Thank you again for your comment and sharing and bringing those great points to my attention. I will definitely be aware of this now! I hope you have a great evening and a great weekend coming up!
      -Andrea

      1. Hi Andrea, I am SOO glad to hear that you are in recovery for your ED! If you ever want to talk I am 100% here for you. It’s a never-ending process but I am so happy with where I am in life right now, and running really helped me get there. I love your outlook on empowerment, it’s SO SO TRUE! It amazes me so much that I used to get dizzy just from standing up too fast and now I’m going to run a half marathon!!! I hope that somewhere in my somewhat near future I can run a full marathon like you! πŸ™‚

      2. You are a straight up rock star πŸ™‚
        Thanks for the encouragement and kindess… this is what I love so much about blogging!

        you will DOMINATE the half! I have zero doubt!

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