As we run over here in Europe, we have come to notice some distinct trends, patterns or general etiquette of greeting your fellow runners when you’re out there getting your sweat on. First of all, wherever I am back home in the U.S., big city or not, I find that runners tend to acknowledge each other with a nod, a quick wave or a brief “hi.” Of course, this is a generalization, but you know what I mean. Of course, in big cities in any country there is always an element of anonymity, so you don’t always acknowledge each other. Living in the mountains of Colorado, I don’t have a lot of extra oxygen to expel when coming across a fellow runner, so what I do is give a quick little hand raise.
Enter our travels…I read recently that the French do not smile at strangers (running or strolling) and that they find it odd when we Americans do so. They find it almost indicative of some sort of senility – that we think we know these people at whom we are smiling. I don’t know if the French would agree with this. But, yes, the French culture is different than ours in the U.S. They are more to themselves, they’re not going to mow you down with a big bear hug. So, when in Paris I’ve gotten used to not addressing anyone which was very weird at first, but then I got in the zone and thought nothing of it. Until I got to Belgium, where I forgot my manners and wasn’t quick enough to respond when I got the nod. Yep, it’s the nod. It took me a few more runners to get into the nod…their predecessors probably thought I was rude, nope, just slow on the draw!
Fast forward to Switzerland…I got a mixed bag, but one super enthusiastic and terribly cute older gentleman who I came upon on a woodsy trail stands out in my mind. He was really chatting me up…in German. When I said I spoke English he just pointed at my KT tape and at various parts of his body (which I took to be achy maybe??) and then he put his hands in a forward motion down the trail. My interpretation of this message was that while we might have some aches and pains, we carry on! (Regardless of age or country!)
And circling back to France, when in Brittany running on a lovely gravel path along the Rance river where I would soon come upon a quaint little town complete with a cathedral (seriously, it could not have been more idyllic), I received an onslaught of “bonjours” complete with smiling faces – who’s senile now? Well, so much for all of that business about the French. (You can read my rant on why the French aren’t rude here.) Perhaps, like in most places, it’s just a big city thing there in Paris. Enjoying all of the beauty of Paris while running though is certainly “bonjour” enough.
*We would like to make the disclaimer that generalizations are abundant in this post as we certainly did not cross paths with every runner of each country mentioned and hopefully no offense was taken by any smiley, wavey, chatty international runners (wink, wink).