It’s 6:30pm and you’re sharing the roads with evening traffic, wearing your blinking safety light and neon reflective vest. Or maybe it’s 6:30am and you’re getting in some frosty morning miles on trails by your house. Perhaps it’s mid-afternoon on a hot August day, and you’re kicking yourself for thinking a 2pm run on blacktop was a decent idea.
In any of these scenarios, you’re running alone, lost in your own world. You don’t notice the curious stares from drivers, the dog-walker’s expression as you see them in their jammies, and you breeze by the goose hissing at you. It’s status quo… until you see a fellow runner coming toward you.
When you see that other runner, you feel a sense of kinship. That runner isn’t just some faceless passerby or honking car horn, they’re someone of your own ilk! It might be the extreme weather you’re slogging through, or the seemingly asinine time of day, or it may simply be that you’ve been running for miles passing only walkers and cyclists, but when you spot another runner, there’s some added bounce in your step.
And you both instinctively do “the nod.”
The nod is exactly what it sounds like: a discreet nod of the head, sometimes accompanied by a knowing smile. This silent gesture communicates so much within mere seconds, conveying well-wishes, understanding, and mutual respect.
There could be an entire Boy Scout Troop crowding the trail, rush-hour commuters honking their horns as you dash through a crosswalk (they have to stop!), or both of you could be sweat-drenched and gasping for air. None of it matters; runners will always give the nod.
My sister e-mailed me a year ago about the nod, and told me it was one of her favorite things about running. She said it gives her “the emotional boost to plug along,” and I completely agree.
Do you give the nod? Does it help you plug along?