Monday, March 2, 2009

Do the WAVE!

When out running, Brooke and I always try to wave at the people in cars who pass by. It is always interesting to see how many will wave back. Brooke has even classified the waves in one of her blogs (ex. head nod, one hand up, and passenger waves).
We have, in the past, attributed bad weather as one reason for the 'no waves' (of any classification). When the weather's great, people seem much happier and more eager to 'put a hand up". This last weekend blew that theory out of the water. We did our run on a cloudy day with a windchill of 12-14 degrees, a 12+ mile an hour wind, and blowing snow and there were tons of wavers and even some honkers. I should also clarify, this wasn't a 4 mile mid-week jaunt - it was our 20 mile long run so we were out there for a few hours doing this 'research'!

What does this mean? Is there a cut off point where the weather gets so bad, so miserable that people can actually break out of their grumpy, dreary moods for a moment to wave at the crazies who are braving the elements in the pursuit of fitness?? (OK, so maybe fitness isn't our sole pursuit, but it is a part of it - other reasons we actually get out there should be addressed in another blog! ;-)).
Are they just in shock to see people so silly that they just throw up an involuntary wave back before they realize what they are doing?? Before they remember their doldrum mood and reasons for not waving at people they don't know. On our run, we had a streak running down Fir Road (a two lane paved country road with no shoulder) where every car had people that waved (well, only one crabby lady that looked perturbed at having to scoot over a bit to give us room didn't). One big dump truck (that passed us twice) even gave us a honk. From both directions people waved and smiled - one even rolled down their window as they passed to put a hand out (and did I mention how COLD it was??). Does this mean that weather has nothing to do with whether someone will wave???

Another theory that's been proposed - if the road we are on requires people to go out of their way to get around us they are less likely to wave. As I said - a lot of our run this weekend was on two lane country roads with no shoulder so there was a lot of maneuvering around us and it didn't seem to adversely affect our results. Again, you have to ask why? What does make people wave?

This isn't just a random thought we have had on a singular run, it's something we talk about and test out frequently. For instance we know that if we wave first it's more likely that someone will wave back - I know, duh. But, then we also figured out if we wave up by our face rather than down at our waist where your hands are naturally when you are running we get more waves. Side to side waves seem to generate more than just throwing up a hand. And, if you make eye contact along with the wave the chances improve even more. But even with all that there are still days that are better - days that more people wave - if it's not weather and it's not the burden we cause them - what is it? Or, is there a line between 20 degrees and 55 degrees (or some variation thereof) that causes them not too, but outside of those ranges they will?

All this said, does it really matter why?? Just know that a wave, smile, nod, etc. - whether from a complete stranger, someone you see at the Y, a co-worker, or a good friend goes a long way in motivating us runners - us crazy asphalt pounders. I guess I can't speak for all runners, but for the CRC we hope you can take time to 'put a hand up' and slap a smile on your face when you pass - it does help!

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