Some Things I Wish My Non-Runner Friends and Family Could Understand About Me as a Runner and Other Tips and Advice

I’ve been a runner since I was in grade school when I ran the mile, 800 meter, and 400 meter relay on the school track team. The only time in my life when I wasn’t running was when I took some time off during college after developing shin splints. I feel like running is in my blood, as cheesy as that might sound. All of this also gives me insight into some of the bizarre things that runners do, which honestly seem perfectly normal if you’re a runner. What are some of these strange things that runners do, you ask? Well, I’ve compiled a list and included some other runner’s insights in the hopes to maybe enlighten non-runners. Feel free to share this list with some of your non-running friends and family!

1.  When I’m finishing a run, I’ll sometimes run past my house and run circles around the neighbors’ cul-du-sacs so I can reach a certain distance on my running watch. For example, if my running plan has me running for 4 miles but I’ve miscalculated and am only at 3.85 miles when I return home, I’ll keep running to get in that last 0.15 miles. 4 miles means 4 miles, not 3.85 miles.

2.  If I run by you and you wave or honk your car horn at me and I don’t respond, don’t think I’m being rude. I often get into a sort of zone when I’m running and I may not notice other people or cars around me. Either that or I’m so dead-tired I just don’t have the energy to lift my hand up to wave.


3.  Get this in your heads people. A marathon is the same distance no matter where in the world it’s held and it’s always 26.2 miles, not 26 miles either, but 26.2. A half marathon is likewise always the same distance no matter where or when it’s held, that being 13.1 miles.

4.  A half marathon is still a very long way to run, even if it isn’t a marathon. Please don’t ever say to a runner, “I know you just ran a half marathon, but when are you going to run a real marathon.” True story, someone asked me that once.

Long Beach Marathon
Long Beach Marathon, the only “real” marathon I ever ran

5.  Not everyone that runs is trying to lose weight. Believe it or not, many runners are fine with their weight (although they might wish that extra 5 or 10 extra pounds would go away) and they aren’t running just to try to lose weight.

6.  When I get home from a long run, I’m tired, often extremely tired. All I want to do is lie on the floor while I cool off, and have someone bring me ice water and what ever post-run fuel I’m currently in the mood for. If you have a runner in your house that’s just returned from a long run, please drop everything you’re doing and help this poor soul out for the love of all things sacred.

7.  Runners often obsessively check the weather before a run or especially before an upcoming race. Weather can quite simply make or break a run. If it’s going to be super-hot and humid, all of my finish time expectations go out the window for a race because I know that kind of weather will physically make it harder for me to run and I will inevitably be slower than if it was cooler. I can also try to dress more appropriately for a run or race, depending on the weather.

8.  Runners often get bruised toenails, which can then fall off, and sometimes we get blisters on toes and feet. It’s best if you just don’t look at my feet, especially if you’re a non-runner because I’m quite sure this is one thing you’re never going to understand. If you’re a runner, we can compare our bruised and blistered feet without blinking an eye and most importantly without passing judgement.

9.  Don’t ask a runner if they “won” a race. Often just finishing a race is more than enough of an accomplishment.

Winning first in my age group was a huge win for me as far as I was concerned

10.  If you’re cheering on a runner friend or relative at a race, don’t tell other runners that the finish is “just around the corner” when they have another 10 miles to go. For that matter, don’t even mention the finish, just lie and tell them they look great.

11.  All runners like to be cheered on at races. Runners appreciate all the cheesy signs you make, all of those cowbells you ring, and cheering them on. It’s like fuel to a runner and definitely helps.

12.  If a runner is injured and can’t run, know that this will be a very difficult time for them mentally and emotionally. For many of us, running is such a big part of our lives, if we can’t run, we don’t feel like ourselves. Every runner is different with different needs so ask, “What can I do for you? How can I help you?” Then actually do it (or don’t do it if they ask you to not do something). Most of all try to be patient and understanding with an injured runner.

What about all of my running friends out there? What are some things you wish you could share with your non-running friends and family to help them understand you as a runner? Other advice you’d like to share with non-runners?

Happy running!



Author: runningtotravel

I'm a long distance runner with a goal of running a half marathon in all 50 states in the US. I also love to travel so I travel to other places when I'm not running races. Half the fun is planning where I'm going to go next!

20 thoughts on “Some Things I Wish My Non-Runner Friends and Family Could Understand About Me as a Runner and Other Tips and Advice”

  1. lol love the “after a run help them out for the love of all things sacred” 😂 I’ve won one race but that was back in the day, I really want to enter another small one so when everyone asks if I won I can actually say yes hahahaha I don’t listen to music bc I just enjoy running and that confuses the heck out of so many of my non-runner friends. I’d say the one thing I’d add to my list is running around in public half naked 😂 After years of doing it I always forget it’s not exactly normal to strip down into your sports bra and Spanx and proceed to go about in public. Also for runner dudes too, I find dudes in short shorts or tights completely normal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! The closest I’ve ever come to winning a race is getting first place in my age group. I have no doubt that’s going to be as good as it’s going to get with me! You’re right about runners being barely clothed, especially in the summer and not batting an eye at it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. oh well I also meant winning for girls haha I didn’t beat the guys. but age group is still freaking awesome! it’s basically the win bc you can’t count all the young still in track kids 😜 they’re too crazy fast. and yup! I concerned my bf’s family the first time I went for a run from their house bc they hadn’t been exposed to runner “nudity” 😂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I had a great time hanging out in Long Beach and especially loved the bioluminescent water when we took a boat tour through the canals one evening. That marathon kicked my butt, though because it was incredibly hot that day. You are definitely at an advantage having a husband who also runs and understands all the quirky things about running.


  2. Great post! One of my favorites is when non-runners tell me how bad running is for my knees and I should really be careful in the long run. They also say how you shouldn’t run everyday, it isn’t safe to run in heat (didn’t you hear that woman had a heart attack while running?!?)… I also get the questions of what can you possibly think about that long? Aren’t you so bored? So on and so forth.

    There are definitely things our non-running friends don’t understand about our passion. Despite that, I do my best to share my experiences and enthusiasm without annoying too many of them 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! You bring up some great points too. I just had someone tell me how bad running is for my knees, and I told him my knees actually hurt when I don’t run for long periods because running helps strengthen my quads, which helps stabilize my knees. They just looked at me like I was crazy. Thanks for your comments!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My “pet peeve” is when non-runners ask: “Isn’t that bad for your knees?” and then go on to explain that they “used to run” but hurt their knees so they don’t run anymore. Well, let’s see – that could be due to bad form, poor choice or fit of shoes, lack of proper warmup, trying to run too much too soon, or bad luck with genetics. All I can say in response is, “Not for mine.”

    But just about any other question is fine with me, even the “how long is this marathon” question. After all, a non-runner is attempting to engage with me and learn something. You never know when you’ll inspire someone to join the flock!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The comments about running being bad for your knees is definitely one of the worst. I like your response to that one and also your attitude that maybe you’ll inspire someone to become a runner. That’s a nice way to look at it!


  4. This is a great list! I really can’t think of anything to add, other than maybe an explanation as to why I have so many shoes. I’m not addicted to running shoes, I just believe in a solid shoe rotation to help keep my feet interested and to avoid injury.

    Liked by 1 person

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