The 13 Weirdest Things Runners Do

If you run, you’re probably a huge weirdo. But don’t worry, I am too – and there’s safety in numbers so I’m glad you’re here!

Weird Runners

After running for 16 years, my life has become progressively weirder. Not only do I do things that normal folks think are unbelievable / weird / crazy / stupid, but what I think is standard is anything but for the general population.

And it seems with each passing year, the harder it becomes to stop running. The odd rituals and obsessive tendencies become further ingrained in my personality until they help define who I am.

Sleep isn’t just fun, it’s recovery.

A bathroom stop isn’t just a relief. It’s a chance to check your hydration.

Parks aren’t just for picnics, they’re for barefoot strides.

Food is evaluated as fuel.

Indeed, we’re a wacky bunch. But that’s what makes us fun – our idiosyncrasies are what bonds, unites, and strengthens runners everywhere.

So from one weird runner to another, I just want to say that it’s great to be weird together. 

To celebrate runners, I’ve created a list of the top 13 weirdest things we do because we run. But these are mostly from my experiences as a runner. I’d love for YOU to add your own oddities, obsessive-compulsive rituals, and crazy tendencies in the comments below.

Let’s have some fun!

Our Weirdest Running Habits

Runners aren’t just weird about what they do, but also because of what they like and what they wear. These are our weirdest tendencies, habits, and preferences – and they might just sound familiar.

1. We have a skewed sense of weather. Tropical storm caused record flooding? Lightning? Triple digit temperatures? Well, you gotta get in your run!

After giving my mother countless anxiety attacks, I now give this warning: It will take a nuclear holocaust to stop me from running.

2. Our hobby isn’t as “fun” as others. Getting up at 4am to run over 26 miles for fun this weekend was a CHOICE! This is what I do for fun! Why my non-running friends don’t get this is beyond me.

My response: Oh, you’re in a kickball league? Neat.

3. Nipple Band-Aids! While I’ve never needed to tape my nipples, it’s a tried and true strategy for those of us predisposed to chafed, bloody, raw nipples. The next time your nipple is pouring blood, don’t forget that you chose to run!

Other sports require their participants to wear jock straps. We have Band-Aids… for our nipples.

4. Our definition of “far” is very different. We run more per week than you probably drive – and some of us run enough per year to get us from LA to New York.

Once on the weekend, we’ll run far enough to prompt our family members to say, “that’s why they invented cars.

5. We are Gear Junkies! We own more shoes than fashion bloggers and the latest update to your favorite pair is discussed at LENGTH on Runblogger.

Most runners could be mistaken for paid tech consultants because of their expertise programming GPS watches, heart rate monitors, and wearable tech that the general public doesn’t even know exists.

And socks? I own more than 30 pairs.

5. Our commitment is steadfast. Yes, we run almost every day. Yes, we do it in challenging weather. YES, we get up before dawn to run!

I die a little bit on the inside when people are incredulous that I run most days.

6. We run a LOT. Not only do some of us run every day, but there are some runners who do it TWICE in one day!

Tell a non-runner you’re going for the day’s second run and watch their head explode.

7. Bathroom breaks don’t need to happen in bathrooms. Taking a quick pit stop outside is no big deal (just make sure you have a tall blade of grass to hide behind).

Using the facilities without facilities doesn’t even phase me anymore – just another Wednesday!

8. Shoegasms. Runners get more excited for a new pair of running shoes than most people do about getting a new flat screen.

Look at those colors! The heel-toe drop differential! Wait, is that Fresh Foam?!

9. We downplay what others think is extraordinary. Running a marathon, training for hours, and finishing races faster than most can can finish them on a bike makes others think we’re superhuman.

But to us, it’s just something we love to do. And when the extraordinary is normal, that’s a weird world to live in.

10. Wear gratuitously short shorts. Shorts with a 1.5 inch seam and a split leg design attract the scorn of non-runners everywhere. And have prompted some of the most hilarious taunts I’ve ever heard:

Hey, why are you wearing your sister’s shorts?!

Mommy, why is that man naked?

Why are you wearing booty shorts? Get your life together!

Keep’em coming!

11. Own too many running books. For just a glimpse into my library, just look at my collection of running books. Who owns so many books about one sport? How much is there to really know about running?

I think it’s completely reasonable, but my “normal” friends think I’m fit for a straight jacket.

12. Shaved legs (on guys). I haven’t done this in years, but there was a time when they were always shaved. Look at the front of the pack at any major road race and you’ll notice quite a few smooth legs on the male runners.

Besides swimmers and cyclists (who have better reasons to shave), male runners do it to feel fast and look intimidating. Plus, slipping into clean sheets with freshly shaven legs is heavenly. Now THAT’S weird.

13. Require ample “skippy doo” space. You need space for all those warm-up and core exercises – which are affectionately called “skippy doos” by a friend of mine.

Now I demand a living room clear of furniture so I have ample space to do all those exercises. When family or friends are visiting, they laugh their heads off.

Honorable mention:

I polled a few family members on our weird behaviors and got these gems:

You changed shoes before the race – why do you need two pairs of shoes?

Barefoot running! That’s so weird. Oh, and those toe shoes. Who runs in those?

Runners are usually so healthy when it comes to their diet and lifestyle, but then all these races end in chugging beers!

Your Turn!

Now I want your reasons why runners are weird! Leave a comment below and let us know what makes runners so “different.”

And then let’s rejoice in our weirdness, celebrate our idiosyncrasies, and cherish our wacky habits. We’re a community: an oddball group that shares this unspoken culture.

They’re what makes us runners, after all.

If you’re new here, I’d love for you to join this running community. And I promise not to send you anything too weird 🙂

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Comments

  1. On family vacations, I am always scoping out running routes and figuring out how to get the workout in. By the time everyone rolls out for breakfast, my workout is done, I’m showered and ready to enjoy some down time. Both my family and my husband’s family just. do not. get. this. I also get a little crazy attempting to fit a lap swim in at these places. Pools are for swimming, right?

  2. Craig Todd says:

    I typically run at 3-4 am, donning headlamp, flashing red reflector, and reflective vest. One morning, a car going in the other direction passed by me, slowed down, and turned around. The driver and passenger (a 20-something year-old couple) rolled down their windows and cranked “Eye of the Tiger” on their radio, and drove along side me for about 2-3 minutes. No words were exchanged, other than the initial “hello”. The passenger (a female) then said to the driver, “I think you’re freaking him out”, after which they sped off. I found the whole experience pretty humerous.

  3. #14. Toenail Pride. Black, blue, or, in some cases, altogether missing, toenails are considered badges of honor. During summer, we get excited about wearing open toed sandals as conversations with strangers usually segues into talking about running when they look down and display that all too familiar perplexed look on their face.

    • I know, this happens to me all the time, but after the 20th time or so, you pretty much get used to it.

      • Jason Howar says:

        My grown daughter made a comment during a conversation about sandals. It seemed that I was the only person out of 5 or 6 with regular shoes on. My grand daughter said I should go get mine on. “Sweety, you know what Bumpa’s feet look like. He’s an ultra runner. You don’t want anyone to look at those toes.” Rosie: “OOOOh yeah. Keep ’em on Bumpa.”

  4. I am a man and shave my legs. #12 ” Plus, slipping into clean sheets with freshly shaven legs is heavenly.” > I’ve never admitted this to another man, but this is so very true!

    I’ve heard it said that all awesome engines should have a chrome finish!

  5. I was completely with you until the short shorts – I haven’t gone there…yet.

    Probably the weirdest thing I’ve done as a runner is screw hex metal screws to my shoes to create snow cleats. I knew this was weird when it raised my wife’s eyebrows (also an avid runner).

    Great list – runners are weird but in the best sense of the term.

  6. This might have been already touched by point #9, but I think runners use the English language in an interesting way. For example; when we use the word ‘short’, as in ‘I’m going for a short run’, we usually mean any distance under 10 miles. Then there is the word ‘only’, “how far did you run?”. “I didn’t have much time so I only ran 5 miles”.

    I agree with the nipple band-aids, I’m sort of dreading the day when I’m asked why I buy band-aids as often as I do.

    Thanks for the list, it gave me a chuckle as I read them.

  7. People don’t recognize me when my hair isn’t in a ponytail and I have “regular clothes” on!

  8. SilentJake says:

    I often catch myself stretching the IT bands or calves holding on to a lamppost while waiting for the light, when I’m NOT in my running clothes.

  9. We don’t go by age, we go by age group.

  10. I’m down with the short shorts and the shaved legs. The combo definitely makes you feel fast so I think it gives you a psychological boost. Also, no shirt/singlet in the warm weather. Really helps when it’s in the nineties and the humidity’s high!

  11. It’s all about the Skippy-Doo space… Currently I have a TRX hanging in the middle of our entry way because it’s the only truly open house space in which to perform these exercises. Of course, all non-runner-visitors think it’s some sort of … “strange” … contraption.

    Since starting Jason’s pre- and post- run routines, I’ve ended up moving the coffee table to the sliding glass door and the tv area is no longer really the tv area. Even the dogs are looking at me strangely.

    One of our goals is to build a new house in the coming years and my dream home would have an entirely open workout area where both the TRX and a large “scorpion-proof” area could coexist, happily. Of course, this dream home would also have an endless pool … and I digress:)
    Until then, the TRX and drills are right in the middle of all the action!!

  12. love the list.

    runners are the only people i’ve ever heard START a conversation with a stranger about how much they hate the stranger’s shoes..then ask the stranger how the stranger likes the shoes…

    singlets are only ever proper fashion on runners, and even runners often don’t fill out the cut!

    snot rockets and pit stops.

    cyclists do this too, but talking about ‘the legs’ as if they are equipment entities unto themselves (not ‘my legs’). ‘the legs felt good today’

  13. I’m guilty of all these, especially #9! Friends ask how long I ran and my response is “Just an easy 7 miles” or “I’m so mad, I had to cut my run short because of the heat and only got 11 miles in.” I miss having running friends who would actually understand!

  14. Karen Norvell says:

    Gratuitous use of the word ‘only’ …..
    It’s ‘only’ a 6 mile run home
    I’m ‘only’ going to run out for an hour …. and then back
    It’s ‘only’ rain

    • Ok. This one has me on the floor laughing. I cannot even begin to count all the times I have used “only” in a sentence.

      My personal fav, “These shoes are ‘only’ $120.”

  15. Allison says:

    The obsessive frequency in which we use foam rollers, the Stick, tennis/lacrosse balls to loosen up. I know that my family has looked at me weird as I’m rolling around all over the floor with these things. One time, my uncle (and since my family is loud and crazy, I KNEW someone would say something) saw my foam roller and made a joke about it being a sex toy. My brother’s girlfriend also laughed at me once for sitting on and rolling a lacrosse ball around on my ass. Good times!

    • Haha… I now worry more about the family that DOESN’T ask what I’m doing.
      We typically have folks in town during the holidays and when my glutes are troubled, I canNOT sit in a chair for very long.
      Inevitably during some Longggg movie being shown in our house, I will end up on the floor, either laying on my sacro wedgy (which ALWAYS raises eyebrows) or, better yet, rolling around on my butt on a softball (another favorite tool for this, if you haven’t yet tried it!).

      • Allison says:

        Yeah, I’ll get up from sitting on chairs, couches etc…and I’ll do all kinds of weird things to loosen up. It is really funny when people react to it. I never think about it when I’m by myself or around my husband (he is used to it all by now), but doing things like this around people who don’t see you do it all the time always results in weird looks or questions like, ‘what are you doing?’…hilarious!

    • SilentJake says:

      Same here, guilty as charged… I cannot watch a DVD on the couch any more. I end up on the floor with either a foam roller, stick, tennis ball or an elastic band. Drives my husband crazy! 😀

      • Hooray I’m so happy to read this one!
        I thought I was the only person who can no longer sit down for any length of time.
        My dogs love it though, as I’m on the floor lots with all kinds of fun “toys”. 😉

  16. Deborah K says:

    I’m pretty sure one of the most distressing emotions on the planet for a runner is what results from a running injury. And then going to a doctor only to be told your runners wings are clipped for at least 4 weeks? I cried hysterically on the way home from that appointment. (But mostly because I had to accept the reality that I’m just not running/training as well as I should be…).

    • The doc said to take it easy for a couple weeks after surgery. 12 days is almost a couple weeks, right? A half marathon is easy, right? I thought so, too.

  17. Allison says:

    I am in on the snot rocket and spitting – only time a girl can spit and really let it fly! My son even compliments me and he is 12!!!!
    Shoe addictions – really – how many pair can you have?! Never enough
    Glow in the dark – and rock it!
    People giving criticism (crazy) and us taking it as a compliment (we are!)
    Have tan legs & faces – in early spring and late fall from runs when others are all bundled up and we are just comfortable (ok – maybe not totally healthy 🙂 )

    • Allison says:

      I have a habit of spitting on the run, too. I don’t do it while racing…too many people around that I could accidentally hit with it, haha. But on training runs, most definitely.

  18. Eduardo says:

    We watch documentaries about running – sometimes in the movie theater! (My wife and I made Spirit of the Marathon II a date night … and we felt like running back home).
    When we decide to do a bagel run on a Sunday morning, we do so by lacing up and running from home to the bakery and back.
    We meet our running buddies on Saturday morning and talk about all sorts of subjects while on the run, then meet them that evening for drinks and talk about running.

  19. We can use “easy” and “10 miler” in the same sentence

  20. Before I travel somewhere new I check out possible routes for morning joggs, where are the slopes, and fast tracks. And is there going to be a race in the area (if travelling for work, else the race may well be the reason).

  21. Screw shoes for running in bad winter weather are the best! I had my husband go to the hardware store with me and help me with that project and he definitely thought I was a little crazy.

    Sometimes non-bathroom bathroom breaks can’t even happen behind tall grass. I was once on a dirt country road and HAD to go, but there was nowhere to hide. I prayed the whole time a car wouldn’t come by!

    After reading this, though, I realized I’m not a gadget and shoe junkie. I think I have just three pairs of shoes and about as many of pairs of socks… But that’s what I like about running – it’s so minimal in terms of gear I can fit all my running stuff, minus shoes, in one dresser drawer.

  22. I read a few similar comments but one habit I find funny is that when we go away as a family on vacation, for softball tournaments or to visit family in other states, the planning process always includes a visit to mapmyrun or google to see where the best and safest running route to where we are staying is!

  23. I have no problem sending some expensive “normal” people garments I’ve barely worn to Goodwill but cringe when my husband asks if I want him to toss my almost thread bare marathon shirt even though I have drawers full of others (which are not going anywhere either.)

  24. Kristan says:

    When I say I’m gonna run somewhere, I always get asked if I’m literally going to run or just take the car. Everyday conversation in our household. 🙂

  25. Plastic garbage bags as outerwear. I’m too lazy to hit a thrift shop for used sweats or hoodies to wear in the corral before a race, so I bring a few yard waste bags, tear arm and head holes in one of them for a poncho and used the others as ground cloths to do one of Jason’s warm up routines on the ground. Tear off the poncho like Hulk Hogan shredding a t shirt, brutha!

  26. I always get a kick out of meeting other runners when we are wearing our regular clothes. We say things like, “You clean up well!” or “I didn’t recognize you with your clothes on!”

    As far as quirky things, as a teenager I used to get up really early to beat the summer Texas heat and then come home and fall back asleep on the floor under my ceiling fan!

    Things you won’t find me wearing on a run are headphones or bracelets. Both get on my nerves too bad to mess with!

    • Deborah says:

      True story- at a road runners banquet, I did my hair and makeup, and wore a dress and heels. Nearly everyone gave me stares like… Who is this chick and WHY on earth is she smiling and saying hello? I was a top runner in our group and (at least I thought) recognized when participating in events for consistent 1st -3rd place. It was a legit Batman/Bruce Wayne moment in my life…

  27. I find I’m a bit obsessed with watching other runners when I see them out training, checking their cadence, form, gear, race t- shirt, anything that might be a good idea or clue to improve my own running! My family probably thinks I’m a gawker. Could be 😉

  28. Don’t run if my Garmin watch failed to charge the night before. I want to track every single step I take. Luckily, it gives me an excuse to go to the gym and do some core exercises.

  29. I always get excited when non-runners start talking about marathons. Usually, soon after, I realize it’s for some TV show I don’t watch. Oops! Lol

  30. Few things make me more angry than when another runner doesn’t return my runner wave. However, if someone were to do this to me in the grocery store, I would think they were crazy. 🙂

  31. When people assume if I wearing athletic clothing that I just ran…no sometimes runners like to weather running clothes around the house and to do errands.

  32. Lori Sattler says:

    That I always look behind me to see how close the nearest runner is while Im farting.

  33. Good article! My wife is a real hardcore runner and chuckled a bit when I read the word, shoegasms! LOL She’s got about 30 to 40 pairs of running shoes. What I don’t get is she’s still keeping the broken ones. Sentimental value?? Nahh… When you’ve got about 15 broken ones and it’s occupying our shoe rack, it’s called hoarding! LOL

    Mike

  34. Whenever I drive, I always look for the next steep hill to run up !

  35. One of the things a lot of runners do is combining their achievement with raising funds for charity. I live in Romania. On April I went to Boston to run the marathon to support children with autism (www.pieterwessel.com). I raised euro 6200. Around $9000. The trip costs were around euro 9000 (I was there with my family). Non runners ask me: ‘ why not simply transfer an amount in stead of running ‘that’ marathon. That’s how they called the marathon of the marathons. No further comments needed, I suppose.

  36. I really like the sixth point ” Run a lot”. I run twice a day. When i ask my friends to run with me, they quickly run away from me.

  37. Colleagues at work just cannot understand the concept of “recovery runs”. The look on their faces…I guess running comes very far away down on their list of things to do when recovering…

  38. latricia says:

    When I run I have to have a handkerchief in one hand and gum, then I’m good to go. Anything less then 10 miles is disappointing to me. Lol

  39. Richard says:

    I have a couple that come to mind for me.
    1: At the Peachtree Road Race Expo I was very excited to Swiftwick had a booth this year. I don’t think to many people get excited by a sock both, much less talking to reps there about socks.

    2. Recording weight and time on the bib when the race is over. I use these as notes for next race or the same race the following year.

  40. I used to drink beer or other spirits almost every day. Not much, just one or 2 beers or one mixed drink. But I have pretty much quit. I think I’ve about 4 beers and a couple of margaritas on the past year. When I see friends I haven’t been around in a while, they will ask me if I want a drink. I politely say no, I have quit drinking. They then ask if it is because of my diabetes. I tell them no, not really. It messes up my training.

  41. Kristen Kinnear-Ohlmann says:

    Both the list and all the comments – love them all! I’m not a “no bathroom bathroom” person but I do know where all the porta-potties and open bathrooms are on every route! I’m also always scouting for flat places to run intervals on since it’s pretty hilly where I live.

  42. I own ten pair of shoes I am struggling a lot to motivate to my wife why I need to buy a new pair once of them other older pairs gets to worn out. Different shoes for different purposes (trail, competiton, light-weight trainers, cushioned trainers) is the reason why I read and write running blogs. To be able to discuss with people that really understand me, like non-runners dont 🙂

  43. I’m surprised noone else has mentioned an obsession with the toy section at the local dollar or discount store. I am always on the lookout for light up bracelets or clips or reflectors on the cheap to make myself more visible when I run after dark or in the early morning. If I find something good, I might have 20 of them in my cart, much to the confusion of those around me… Who else shops in the “Princess” department, then goes out in public looking like a Christmas tree?

  44. Shoegasms happen, often, deal with it 🙂
    I check out other runners shoes all the time, even if they aren’t running, or runners!
    As for point 10, Running tights avoid this. I prefer the look anyways. And the feel and don’ t wear shorts over them because that is just silly!

  45. It doesn’t matter if I already have my run in for the day. If i am out driving and pass someone who is running I am instantly JEALOUS!!

    The other odd thing is how women runners look in a bikini. Most have a nice deep tan EXCEPT: White legs where the shorts were and a white ‘T’ on the back where the bra/singlet was. I get some odd looks.

    Whatev :o)

  46. We greet the morning sun on the road/trail/etc, noting the ongoing change in time throughout the year. “Yep, last week I was at the stop sign back there when the sun rose … Fall must be coming!”
    WHY SLEEP IN?

  47. Does anyone else stretch or roll at the office. My personal favorite is when I was rolling my piriformis while seated and my boss walks up as I am pulling a lacrosse ball out from under me. 😐

  48. And we actually pay good money to do this! That’s the weirdest part to me.

    Oh, and I’m a big believer in the nipple band-aid. I buy the small round spot band-aids and they work great!

  49. Lin Kennedy says:

    I’ve been running since age 52….now 67 and retired. I usually have to go out and buy clothes for a non-running event now because I have 2 closets and many drawers delegated to running clothes.

    I also buy 2 pair of running shoes at a time when training for a marathon and last year I did 4 of them…I almost need to get another job to support this ‘crazy’ hobby of mine!

  50. Great post 🙂 A few of these made me chuckle to myself. Maybe because I’m weird too? I have definitely found myself doing a MANY number of these as well (ie; running in thunder storms, bandaids on the nipples, etc, etc haha).

    Keep up the entertaining writing:)

    -V

  51. I feel envious when I see other people running even though I “only” did 20 that day 🙂

  52. Lee ying says:

    Haha I love this list.

    What do I do that’s weird when it comes to running? I think the fact that I run is enough. I get more people than I would have ever guessed super confused just because I enjoy running a few miles every morning.

  53. Jennifer says:

    If I stop my run and my GPS watch reads 9.95, I have to keep running, even if it’s back and forth in front of my car, until it’s a perfectly even 10!

  54. OK Jason, I’ve read every comment on here and nobody else mentioned that this girl is wearing a CrossFit shirt. Didn’t realize you had become such a huge fan of it. Ha! Ha!

  55. Love this List! 🙂
    One of the weirdest things that my family finds out about running is that I too much time spend on the tennis ball and foam roller. Every time I use foam roller or tennis balls the jokes start to come out.

  56. This is a great post. I always thought I was alone in my “weirdness” but it’s gratifying to see that others share the same strange behavior. What’s great is seeing the support from the comments, and overall the tone of the post is super… it’s lighthearted and right on point. Keep em coming!

  57. I live in West Virginia where these rugged rural roads are riddled (say that 10 times fast) with hills and 90-degree kiss-your-*ss turns. Shoulder. What shoulder? You have about 12 inches between the white line (if there is one) and the guardrail or ditch. I scoff at people who walk along the road wearing dark clothing, especially at night. Mossy Oak Camo clothing seems to be choice attire for this type of road warriors. I just want to throw a reflective vest taped around a rock at them. I want to wear everything bright and reflective so drivers can see me while I’m running. Luckily, I’m a coal miner and we have to wear so many inches of reflective material and some mining companies require elastic reflective leg bands around our ankles. Many coal miners also have mini clip-on LED strobe lights (red, blue, and amber) so we don’t get run over by the heavy machinery underground. They also provide yards and yards of reflective iron-on tape and I iron it on just about everything I run in. When I run at dark:30 I look like a bright mobile reflective flashing disco explosion. I don’t think people slow down for my safety. I think they either slow down because they’re startled or they slow down because they want to check out the bright flashing idiot running in the dark. I used to work afternoon shift so it was common for me to run at 1:00-2:00AM. Last winter after a big snow someone slowed down and asked if I needed help. They thought my vehicle was stuck in the snow and I was running for help. I told them that I lived a few miles away and that I was just running (YakTrax). They had a brain fart and paused for a few seconds. I thanked them of course and kept chugging along. I’m sure they were confused.

  58. jimmy reeves says:

    Since I started running many years ago, I have developed an uncanny ability to estimate time. Without a watch, I can predict the time of day or how long an event takes almost to the minute.

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