A Non-Runner’s Guide to Runners

A Non-Runner's Guide to Runners - Remy's World - Mark Remy

Not sure how to interact with these strange aerobic creatures? Our FAQ will help.

by Mark Remy, writer, runner and creator of Remy’s World

Summer is in full swing, which means that runners are, too. Perhaps you have glimpsed them out and about, loping along paths and trails. Maybe you’ve even seen them in suburban settings, such as supermarkets and coffeehouses, searching for food.

But what do you really know about these shy aerobic creatures? Are they dangerous? What do they eat? How do you get rid of one that’s in your house?

These questions aren’t academic. As the population grows, and more and more land is developed, human-runner interactions will only increase. The following information will help prepare you.

Why do runners run?

Why do runners run? You might as well ask, “Why do birds fly?” or “Why do fish swim?” or “Why do people buy scratch-off lottery tickets?” The answer to all those questions is the same: Because it’s awesome. Also, in the case of running, because maybe you can lose a few pounds.

Why do runners wear those crazy clothes?

Scientists are unsure exactly what purpose is served by the skimpy and often brightly colored gear runners wear. One theory is that it’s meant to attract potential mates. Another is that it’s defensive, as it makes them more visible to motorists. Some biologists believe that runners have actually evolved to prefer brighter clothing, as those wearing dull colors like “Pavement Gray” tend to not live long enough to reproduce.

Are runners dangerous?

You should never provoke them, of course. But runners by their nature are docile and will go out of their way to avoid confrontation. However, females pushing jogging strollers may attack if they feel their babies are in danger. Also, hearing certain phrases might enrage runners; among them:

• “Running will ruin your knees.”

• “Marathons cause heart attacks.”

• “Hey, you’re a jogger, right?”

• “Jogging will ruin your knees.”

Runners who hear any of these may respond forcefully. Meaning, they will go on to Facebook and post a rant that their running friends will then “Like.”

What do runners eat?

Runners enjoy a varied diet, consisting of bananas, sports drinks, bagels, pizza, smoothies, beer, pasta, spareribs, chicken lo mein, muffins, scrambled eggs, sushi, ice cream, grilled shrimp skewers, black bean enchiladas, and those big turkey legs they sell at state fairs and Renaissance festivals. And that’s just on their long-run days.

You might be tempted to feed runners—especially the skinny ones—but don’t do it. You’ll only attract more of them, and runners swarming in great numbers can be a nuisance.

What should I do if I encounter a runner who’s lost and scared?

From time to time, a runner may stray from his pack and find himself in unfamiliar territory, such as a sports bar or a dinner party full of extroverts. Often, he will appear agitated, or confused.

Don’t panic! Runners can sense anxiety, and it will only make a bad situation worse. Instead, approach the runner and ask about his footwear or his watch. Both will likely be running-specific. Soon he will be talking about running, nonstop, which will put him at ease. This will buy you some time while someone phones the nearest specialty running store. The store will send someone to collect the runner and return him to safety.

What if I find a runner in my house?

Especially in the hot summer months, runners may seek relief in air-conditioned homes and then panic when they can’t get back out—especially once they realize that their GPS watch has lost its satellite connection. If you discover a runner stuck in your home, open a door and try to “shoo” her out with a broom. If that doesn’t work, try a little trickery. Pointing outside and shouting, “Hey! Isn’t that the guy who wrote “Born to Run”?” has been known to work.

How do they reproduce?

Runners practice a complex mating ritual that begins with the male donning a novelty T-shirt reading “Distance Runners Do It Longer” and ends abruptly, minutes later, with the female reminding him that they both have to be up early for a long run so they really should just “hit the hay.”

In short: No one knows.

There’s much more, of course. Runners are complex, fascinating creatures, and they have much to teach us. I hope that this information helps ensure that your encounters with runners—this summer and beyond—are happy and healthy ones.



Mark Remy is a writer at large for Runner’s World, author of The Runner’s Rule Book (Rodale, 2009), and creator of the popular Remy’s World column at RunnersWorld.com. He has run 25 marathons.


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46 Responses to A Non-Runner’s Guide to Runners

  1. Beth Adair July 8, 2014 at 7:30 am #

    Ha ha ha, love it! Yep, it’s a cliché, but often heard, “runners are different”.

    I’ve got another one…, “Did you get your running “gene” from your parents?”.

    For me, nope, neither parent ran, or understood why I’d get up at 6 am to run as a kid, or as an adult even earlier to run 20 miles for marathon prep. They used to wonder what the deal was,, ha ha.

    I can’t wait to see how the kids of Mark Remy, or David Willey take off later. I remember editorials in Runner’s World years back from David about running too many hills with a babystroller, or later on David talking about running with his son Tristan in races. My favorite Willey editorial was him writing on not getting sleep from one of his kids going through the “squeal” phase as a toddler, and how it interfered with running and writing. Other staff members would probably have amazing stories too, and I can’t imagine the stories of Amby Burfoot’s kids. All that talent and quickness Amby has, it’s the ultimate in “Dad coaches.”

    Thanks for the blog post! The staff at RW sure is great!

  2. Ticorunner July 8, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    Just love it!! LOL 🙂

  3. Thrizyl July 8, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    Oh yeah! Ask me about my watch or shoes. That’s sure to get me talking for a while.

  4. Rick Singla July 8, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

    Is this a real running group and can i join?

  5. Alice Green July 8, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

    I’ve never run, but ‘my knees are ruined’ anyway. Love your wit and sense of humor, but I still don’t ‘get’ why anyone runs. Thanks for your information, it brightened up my day.

  6. Tracy Herz July 8, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    Lol lol lol

  7. Anna Kitson July 8, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    Love this. Thanks for sharing. Sitting at my desk at work “taking a break”. This just makes me want to bag the rest of the day and go for a run! 🙂 Or eat a big turkey leg.

  8. Dan Sqirmly July 8, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

    I like bees.

  9. Runner July 8, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    This is spot-on gold. Thanks for making my day

  10. Mariah July 8, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

    Can not stop laughing- write one for triathletes too and it will be perfection!

  11. Karen Norvell July 8, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

    It wouldn’t be so funny if it wasn’t all true! Pricelessly funny

  12. Alexis July 8, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

    Smart. witty and entertaining, just like runners.

  13. Brenda July 8, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

    Love this….as I am just getting into the sport of running.

  14. Jess July 8, 2014 at 5:28 pm #

    I’m disturbed that you neglected to mention BACON. And our bizarre vocabulary, including words such as “splits”, “bonk”, “fartlek” and “Yasso”. Clearly invented to obfuscate the non-runner.

    Otherwise, funny stuff. 😉

  15. Meredith July 8, 2014 at 6:16 pm #

    I laughed so hard! Then I sent it to all my fellow running buddies. 😉

  16. Dominic July 8, 2014 at 6:36 pm #

    As a former runner and triathlete who’s running career was terminated by two back surgeries, I walk, cycle, workout at the gym, still dream about running and occasionally cheat by going to the track and doing drills and running strides to prevent hamstring injuries from playing softball. I guess you can take the man out of running but not the running out of the man.

  17. Rick July 8, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

    Is the shirt that you’re wearing Pavement Gray?

  18. Theresa Varga Kavouras July 8, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    Love this! Very witty…

  19. Tiffany cooper July 8, 2014 at 7:10 pm #

    Loved this article! Describes me to a “T!” Brilliantly and hilarious written! Bravo!

  20. Natalie July 8, 2014 at 7:24 pm #

    Awesomely amazing. Made my afternoon☺

  21. Norm July 8, 2014 at 8:14 pm #

    Why is Mark Remy wearing pavement gray in the photo above? 😉

  22. Lisa July 8, 2014 at 9:29 pm #

    I am a runner & totally get it, non-runners just don’t get it.

  23. Amy July 8, 2014 at 10:10 pm #

    Absolutely hilarious and spot-on! Made me laugh out loud 🙂

  24. Mary July 8, 2014 at 11:16 pm #

    Where’s the ” are you insane?!” In the sayings that will engage runners?

    I get that one more than the others combined. No, I’m not insane, I’m awesome.

  25. Gaynor July 9, 2014 at 1:03 am #

    that is sooo funny and so true, mostly 🙂 Myself and my mate run the blog http://www.fat2fitbitch.com. So not quite us tubby runners. Love it though.

  26. Hilarious and very true!

  27. Angela July 9, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    Pure genius!!

  28. tomas July 9, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    This is such a lame article. Runners are not a breed. They are people who enjoy physical activity just like others who enjoy playing sports, working out, etc. It’s written with an arrogance that states that runners are better than others. Get off your high horse! Pointless waste of time.

  29. Richard Williams July 9, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    Hey tomas, you might not like us runners, but at least you can ignore us. The article was written in jest. Lighten up a bit and enjoy life, that’s what running is all about. The article was thoroughly enjoyable and maybe only that only a true runner can understand!

  30. tomas is a tool July 9, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

    Tomas – someone has a bad case of the Wednesdays. I love how trolls read an article, decide it was was a waste of time and then spends more time telling us all what a waste of time it was.
    As a runner, I thought it was funny. As a non-runner, my wife just rolled her eyes and said, “yup, that’s you”.

  31. Lauren Keating July 9, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

    This was the greatest thing I read all day!! So funny—and true! Got to love the running community =)

  32. Anna Calcaterra July 9, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

    Great article! I can’t even count how many times non-runners have told me running will ruin my knees. Until my knees hurt, I’m going to continue to run!!! Others have told me I’m too skinny and I don’t NEED to run. I inform them that I’m not too skinny and that I run because I love it, not to lose weight. It’s my passion!!

  33. Laura July 9, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

    Love it!! How about, “how long is that marathon?” Enjoyed it all.

  34. Debra July 9, 2014 at 10:48 pm #

    LOL!!! I keep coming back and rereading this because I get such a kick out of it! Too funny!

  35. Sonya July 10, 2014 at 12:39 am #

    What a great read!! Thanks for this!

  36. Scott July 10, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    This isn’t funny and running is stupid.

  37. Cindy July 10, 2014 at 8:59 pm #

    Oreos. We eat oreos.

  38. Gil July 10, 2014 at 8:59 pm #

    Sometimes I don’t even get why I run. Deerflies, heat, cold, injuries, having to poop in the woods… But I’m going to keep running anyway! It is a little nuts when you think about it!

  39. Lindsey July 11, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    Guess what? Running won’t ruin my knees…sitting on the couch all day will ruin my knees, my heart, my brain, my waistline etc.

  40. Mark July 12, 2014 at 9:33 pm #

    And my all time favorite… “You will only see me running if someone is chasing me” is likely to cause convulsions among runners. As much as you are tempted to point that out, do not tell that to a runner.

  41. azure July 12, 2014 at 9:34 pm #

    If you call a runner a jogger, you will get punched in the face. Don’t ever use the j-word if you value your safety. Runners are calm, peaceful, and intelligent, but piss one off with the j-word and you will be laid out

  42. Reuben July 13, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    I’ve had this open on my browser window for a few days needing to get around it reading it. Finally read it this morning and it was just what I needed to lighten the mood I’ve been in. Thanks.

  43. francois July 17, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

    good one.

    If you ever post this somewhere else, here are a few additional tips on runners:

    – They use strange measuring systems, like minutes per km instead of km/h for speed

    – Never ask them what is their favorite shoes, cause they will say: it depends, for track, race, long distance, speed work, easy runs, winter, what do you mean? then they will tell you about every pair they’ve own since 1995.

    – they usually migrate to schools on Sunday morning and practice a weird ceremony which involves filling forms, performing strange moves by streching muscles, lining up in the street, running, then eating bagels and giving out prizes.

    – how do you sort the serious runners from the non serious, the serious ones usually never have sex the day prior to a race. If you are dating one, please, don’t even talk to the on Saturdays.

    – If you ever invite the restaurant, make sure it’s Italian or a buffet. otherwise they will complain or you will have to stop somewhere else to fill their gigantic stomach.

    – they have codenames when meeting eachother for the first time, like: hey, I’m Jim 34/20 on 10k, or hey, i’m jessica sub 2 at half.

    if you ever encounter a runner in a car accident, it’s not enough to check her/his pulse, some of them a heartbeat so slow you might think they are dead. It easier to shout “New Balance or Asics?” and check if their pupils dilate.


  44. Victoria July 23, 2014 at 9:08 am #

    Love, love , loved this post! It was so funny to read and really witty!

  45. Joe B July 13, 2017 at 7:58 am #

    Very funny read. Awesome job, Thanks

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