Here is the third in a series of four posts laying bare the results of a survey into just how sociable runners are by @SaulBee.

Click Here to read Part 1

Click Here for Part 2


Now we get to the meat of the survey.  I told you a little bit about the background and why I chose the questions I did.  I discovered a bit about the people who responded and worked out how to present the information in the only way I was capable of doing.  Now it’s time to have a look at just how sociable runners are, and perhaps we can reach a conclusion about whether to High 5 or not. I was grateful that there were no more word clouds this week.

Before I started to look at how runners deal with other runners I looked at how they deal with non runners, so I looked at the questions that revealed a bit more about this.

Do you think running is for everyone?                                                           70% Yes

Do you actively encourage people you know to take up running?            84% Yes

Are you a running bore?                                                                                     42% Yes

38% Not for me to say

20% No

What we see from this already is that most runners are slightly evangelical about their hobby. I guess when you have gained a lot from an activity you would like to see others get as much as you do. So why is there a disparity between the amount of respondents who encourage people to run, and those who think that running is for everyone. When you have tried hard to persuade and failed, at some point you have to admit some people out there, hard as it is to believe, will never be runners. Perhaps they have been put off by something… and so we get to my favourite question; are you a running bore? I’m happy to say that the majority of runners were prepared to acknowledge that they may get a bit carried away with their hobby. It might be considered a bit obsessive by some to spend the evenings you are not actually out pounding the pavement, plotting out training programs, researching marathons, working the best core strength exercises, planning race strategies, and discussing these things endlessly online with both strangers and friends. Almost by definition this is what a bore is, however some amongst us are happier to let their friends and acquaintances label them, perhaps still fighting the grim realisation of their role in life.

Now lets take a look at what we can find out about how runners deal with other runners.

Do you think of runners as part of a great big club?                                                82% Yes

I think this question is actually quite important and points to the success of things like #ukrunchat and DYRT, not to mention the ever present Parkrun. All of these are very informal collections of running enthusiasts with no formal membership at all. At most for Parkrun you need to download a barcode, but nobody worries if you don’t turn up or if you only go once in a while. On top of that with all of these communities people seem genuinely supportive and pleased to see others enjoying the exercise. As my wife, who is by no means a runner, once pointed out to someone who was taking the mick out of a larger person running “I can tell you don’t run because all the runners I have met love to see others out trying no matter what size and shape they are, and they are very encouraging!” I am glad we set such a good and positive example as a group, and you can definitely count me in as one of the giant one world runclub brigade.

Do you acknowledge other runners when you pass them while training?             98% Yes

I had no doubt about this, unless I have my threshold run tunnel vision on I will always acknowledge other runners, after all we are all in the same club and a little bit of recognition goes a long way!

Do you see the same people when out on your regular running routes?            49% Yes

I think how this question was answered depends largely on when and where the respondents run. For example before I spent 6 months job shuffling I used to always be out in the morning around 7am, and I would see the same people all the time. There was always a nod of recognition and a smile as we passed each other, but as my training times have had to start to vary more, I don’t have the same regulars on my routes. I often wonder how they are doing and occasionally I see them again, with the nod and the smile, but it is not as regular as it once was. If you have no regular routes or times you can’t see the same people.

Have you spoken with them and introduced yourself?                                     19% Yes

Have they introduced themselves to you?                                                            10% Yes

This is where things are taken to the next level. Once you have become a nodding acquaintance can you then summon up the nerve to say hello, ask if there is anything that they are training for, where they Parkrun etc… Being English and having that natural reserve this was never something that I managed, besides which, if you are passing someone coming the opposite way there is not a lot of time to talk, especially if you don’t want to interrupt some bodies run. If you are running in the same direction wouldn’t it be a bit strange and disconcerting for a stranger to match pace and start a conversation. Perhaps this is why Parkrun works, it is an excuse to get a lot of runners together all starting from the same place, some of whom inevitably have matching paces. Then you just sit back and watch friends and communities develop. Looking back that is exactly how my introduction to the wider running world worked. All in all I am not surprised that these figures are as low as they are, in fact if anything I am surprised they are not lower. I would like to know how these positive people managed to work it out between them.

If another runner went to high 5 you while out would you reciprocate            95% Yes

Would you initiate a high 5 with another runner?                                                22% Yes

OK so these are without doubt the most significant questions in the survey, I carried them on from the first one I did because of the amount of interest that they generated, and I have held onto them till the end here in a vain attempt to get you to read the rest of my offering. Should you High 5? Well according to the results, for every 20 people you go to High 5 only one will not return the favour. Of course being English with most of the respondents being English there is no surprise that we find it difficult to initiate such an action. The good news is that if you try most of the time you will get a positive outcome and feel the glorious buzz of a strangers slapped hand. Since discovering this I know there are some on #ukrunchat who have tried to take this up and always go for the High 5, so already this survey has had an impact. After being shamed by others who have taken up the banner of High 5ing I have started this myself and the results are generally good. Personally I have found about 3/4 of the people I go to high 5 reciprocate. Remember that our survey is self selective amongst people who are highly socially motivated anyway, but this does not stop the mainly positive response being born out in real life. A word of warning though, it is not always as easy as it seems, be prepared for a few misses and a few clashed wrists. If I have only managed a half High 5 out on a run with you, or have somehow failed and missed I apologise. I really wanted the satisfying collision of palms but if that failed I was still sending you as much support and positive vibes as I could muster while 8min miling at the end of a 7 mile route.

In the final article next week we will look at some of the quotes people gave about running and runners and their sociability. Cyclists be warned, you may want to take notes!