By Ambassador Daniel Barron

I consider myself a friendly runner.

Earlier this year I decided to conduct an experiment and put my friendliness to the test.

For the entire month of April I would say “hello”, “good morning”, wave or give a head nod to every runner or walker I crossed or passed.  Considering one of my 2014 goals is to run every day of the year (future blog post), and still going strong on this July 16th, it was an abundance of runners.

While I didn’t keep exact numbers, I can say that most runners or walkers were reluctant to acknowledge my greeting.  To be more precise, let’s just say that on average I passed or crossed 15 runners or walkers a day (I obviously wasn’t running at Memorial Park).  On average, 2 runners or walkers would welcome my greeting with a response of their own.  That is less than 15%.  This was a little disappointing to me.  I’m certainly not implying that I always acknowledge a fellow runners greeting or gesture.  Let’s face it, there are just some days you have tunnel vision and would rather not be bothered by some weirdo in short shorts.

So why did my elaborate experiment produce such a result?  Why did I get shunned by more than 85% of my subjects?

I broke it down into the following:

1)      I’m just that hideous that you can’t bare the sight of me.

2)      With the recent spike in crime in the neighborhood you thought I was “the guy”.

3)      Perhaps you thought I was hitting on you…sorry I’m married.

4)      You are shy and try to avoid any and all human contact whenever possible.

5)      You are in the zone and have your mind on a particular goal at that moment.

6)      Maybe you just don’t want to say hi and you wonder who this weirdo in short shorts is waving at you.  You then tell all your friends about this weirdo, thus causing a chain reaction and now nobody acknowledges me.  That definitely explains these results.

Whatever the reason may be, you are definitely entitled to it.  Who cares what I think.  However, what if this one small gesture made all the difference to you or the other individual?  Here are a few reasons I think a “hello”, a “good morning”, a wave or a head nod may be beneficial:

1)      What if the waver is “the guy”, you make eye contact with him/her, and now you are able to provide police with a good description (I hope nobody ever gets put in that situation).

2)      Maybe you will meet the person of your dreams, find a new BFF to take selfies with or find a new running partner with this one simple gesture.

3)      Maybe the waver is a beginner runner.  He or she waves at you and you ignore the wave.  Now the beginner runner has second thoughts about becoming a lifelong runner because he/she thinks that all runners are miserable when they are running.

4)      Maybe this one gesture is the motivation you or the other runner needs to get through the run.  With one simple greeting you have bonded and you now realize that this other person recognizes the hard work you are putting in.

I agree that there probably is a time and a place to say hello or to wave at your fellow runner or walker.  It probably would be a little awkward waving to every single runner that you pass or cross at Memorial Park, and even more awkward after you wave at them for a 3rd time on your 3rd lap around.  A good place may be around Buffalo Bayou where the runners seem to be a little more spread out and you will more than likely only cross paths once.

I want to challenge every runner and walker to say “hello”, “good morning”, wave or give a head nod to at least 3 others on your daily run or weekend long run.  You never know, you may be motivating a beginner or even motivating yourself.  Let’s make Houston the friendliest running city in America.

And I promise, if you wave at me, I will wave back.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Runner

About the author: Daniel Barron
Daniel has been running for nine years and has participated in the Chevron Houston Marathon or Aramco Houston Half Marathon every year since. In 2013, Daniel set his marathon personal best of 3:04:21 at the Chevron Houston Marathon and just recently set his half marathon PR of 1:27:29 at the Rhythm and Blues Half in Houston. Daniel has been married for five years to Helen and they have three furry kids –  Mugsy (cocker spaniel), Lily (miniature schnauzer), Emma (german shepherd). He works as a Cost Engineer for Jacobs Engineering and volunteers at The Rose, where he is an Advisory Board Member, and at Susan G. Komen Houston, where he is on the education committee.
Twitter – @M_A_Rathon
Instagram – @M_A_Rathon