Running: The Other Sign Language

Most nights I can be found gliding along The Strand path winding my way through the Southern California beach towns. I weave in and out of couples, strollers, bikers, and walkers to the rhythms and rhymes only I can hear. I can only imagine what I sound like and look like to those around me with my labored breathing, sweat soaked shorts, and intense disposition. However, there are those I come across on my nightly runs who understand it. They speak the language, the unspoken language of runners.

There are few to no words within this language. Most communication is via a smile, a wink, a grimace, or a hand gesture. My favorite are those who employ the point and smile. They are typically older runners who have been through the journey. They know the old friend of running better than most of their friends around them. They smirk as if to say “you’re on the path kid”. It always serves to give me an extra boost on my run having these friends in passing supply little bits of encouragement. To many they would appear to be strangers, but in the running community, those who partake in the sport are automatically connected and deemed friends. It is a unique bond, one that is forged from the toils of struggle and pushing the limits of the human physiology.

The Strand Path in Manhattan Beach. – Photo:

I have only been able to find and make these types of connections in unique sports. Sports where the competition is against oneself as opposed to another team or individual. Or perhaps it is that I did not learn the language of other sports well enough or forgot them from my younger years? Whatever it may be, I know I have a sense of belonging within the running community whether it be spoken or unspoken. When running, I am at home and at peace.

Sorry for all the construction and delay on posts! I am working on getting the coaching services pages all setup before the end of June! Thanks for bearing with me during it:) If you have any feedback feel free to send it over to

Always in Stride,


Song – Paint the Silence – South

Quote – “Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” – Henry David Thoreau


1 reply
  1. Nate Smith
    Nate Smith says:

    I was just thinking about this very thing last week as I was running through Indianapolis, though my thoughts weren’t quite as positive as yours. Most of the runners I ran into there wouldn’t even so much as recognize that they and I were on the same path. Maybe they knew I was an outsider? Maybe it’s just the way they do things in Indy? Oh well. I did get some to say “Hi” to me or wave back, or just give me the nod and smile. Usually the older runners. They’re almost always very kind and encouraging. Much more so than the younger ones. Maybe it’s a generational thing.

    Anyway, the take-home message for me is to keep smiling, keep waving, keep greeting. Running, for sure, is a very positive sport with a lot of great individuals, even if they don’t always respond to my gestures as we pass.

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