A blog by runners. For runners.

20 ways to spot a runner in the wild

20 ways to spot a runnerMore people are running marathons now than in any time in history; up from 507,000 in 2010  to 550,637 today. The numbers have been on a meteoric rise since the early 2000s.

Moreover, the couch to 5K and beyond mentality has and continues to spread like the common cold.

Here’s a tell-tale guide to help you spot members of this ever-growing culture outside of their natural habitat.

  1. Neon tech shirts paired with khakis. This is a dead giveaway that you’re dealing with a runner. Business below the belt, party on top.
  2. Sculpted calf muscles. Can’t. Look. Away.
  3. Gnarly toe nails. While a runner’s body is his temple, his toenails are his junk drawer.
  4. Shorty short short-shorts. In line at the grocery store. At the pool. On the sidewalk. At the DMV. Everywhere.
  5. GPS watch or fitness band on wrist at all hours of the day. Or, on rare occasions, pale skin where such a watch or band is usually worn. In this case, you may spot said runner glancing at naked wrist by habit.
  6. Restless leg syndrome. Legs that won’t quit. Feet that incessantly tap.
  7. Extra pep in one’s step. Jogging up and down the stairs. Fluidity in movement. Superhuman balance and grace when picking up fallen objects.
  8. Monday morning zombie-like walking with one leg often dragging behind the other. Sometimes, this is paired with a race medal worn around the neck. Don’t make eye contact.
  9. Impressive collection of safety pins attached to bag. This one could go both ways; either a seasoned racer or a devoted punk rocker.
  10. Mass grave of empty sport drink bottles on the floor of one’s car on the passenger side. Self explanatory.
  11. Ever-growing collection of race and achievement bumper stickers. Run a 5K? Slap on a sticker. Run a 10K? Slap on another! Run a half? You know what to do!
  12. Answering simple questions with complicated disclaimers. Q: How did you do in the race? A: Well, in the first mile… I actually wasn’t training for… The wind on the backstretch was… The night before… Sorry I asked.
  13. Canceling plans, leaving a party early, or abstaining from debauchery. I would, but I have my long run in the morning. Nah, that’s okay, you guys have fun.
  14. Talking about food in terms of calories per mile. 120 calories for three Oreos? Better run another mile to burn that off.
  15. Competitive behavior in uncompetitive activities. Oh, you’re walking down the hallway at the same time as me? Let me just walk a wee bit faster than you.
  16. Incessant snacking. Breakfast. Mid-morning snack. Pre-lunch. Lunch. Post-lunch. Pre-run snack. Recovery snack. Early dinner. Dinner. Second dinner. Dessert. Pre-sleep snack / second dessert.
  17. Runner-speak. Eating before or after a run = fueling. Drinking throughout the day = hydrating. Conversely, referring to running as cardio is a dead giveaway that you’re NOT a runner.
  18. Short attention span, especially when other runners invade their turf.
    • Scene 1: Two dudes hanging out at a downtown coffee shop.
    • Runner Dude: So I went to see Mad Max: Fury Road this weekend.
    • Other Dude: Such a great film! I can’t believe some people think it’s feminist propaganda. I mean, Charlize Theron is a strong female character. Period.
    • Runner Dude: Totally! I mean, women to … Runner jogs in place at red light across the street. Light turns green and runner continues across road.
    • Other Dude: Hello?
  19. Casual Friday is taken as an invitation to wear race T-shirts. In fact, a close inspection of said runner’s wardrobe would reveal a large stockpile of said shirts and a severe lack of plain cotton Tees or sporty Vees.
  20. Magnetic, contagious positivity. Despite your collection of pet peeves, you can’t help but like this cohesive crew. They encourage, invite, include, and exude all things positive.

Think you’ve spotted a runner out of her natural habitat? What tell-tale signs did I miss? Let me know in the comments below.

Written by Stephen Marcin.