Tribal Markings

This weekend, an occasional colleague happened to notice I was wearing my Garmin with my civvies (ie my non-running kit clothes) and straight off asked me what I was training for. The watch was a dead giveaway to this guy that I must be a runner.

It got me thinking; there are lots of ways to spot other members of the running tribe all around you in your daily life, even when they are disguised by a lack of lycra…

Watching You – as my pal yesterday observed, wearing a GPS watch with work clothes is the first clue. Most are clunky and don’t go at all with that smart suit, but we still wear them. This is partly to get our money’s worth out of these not at all cheap gadgets, but it’s also a secret code between runners so we can nod at each other on the Tube.

Soft Shoe Shuffle – lots of people wear trainers for fashion of course, but Asics, Brooks, or Mizuno shoes with your work clothes or jeans? Runner.


White Lines – think those bikini strap tan lines are dodgy? You have no idea. During the summer months at any given time we’ll have white bits on each wrist from watches and sweat bands, a fascinating pattern of diagonals on each arm and only ever a partial leg tan which will be different depending on whether we prefer capris or shorts, long socks or ankle socks. I have a running buddy who currently looks like she’s wearing pop socks all the time. She’s not. We all have white feet, and we all look like we’re wearing a vest when we’re naked.


Hand Baggage – we prefer wearing backpacks to carrying handbags. You can throw all your daily crap and running kit in it, and after you’ve taken part in a few races you realise it’s just easier to walk about with both hands free. And we can pretend we’re on our way to a race instead of our actual job. Plus we sometimes have really cool ones that tell everyone what marathons we’ve run.


Hands on Hips – we regularly fall into the ‘waiting around before the start’ position of standing about with our hands on our hips. Especially when waiting at a set of traffic lights – it’s compulsory during a run and an involuntary muscle memory thing the rest of the time. Non-runners rarely stand like an off-duty superhero when they’re waiting for the green man.


Hi-Vis Chic – we’re totally comfortable in hi-vis because of all the times we’ve marshalled races or volunteered at parkrun, which means we don’t die of embarrassment wearing one at work like all the other fire wardens.


Whatever the Weather – we have an ability to put up with most levels of minor weather related annoyance. Bit hot? Sun cream and hydrate. Windy? Oh well. Bit of rain? We don’t faff about with brollies, we just have a decent outdoorsy coat with a hood. Or we just don’t bother and get wet. At least we’re not racing in it.

Gait Analysis – I got out of bed this morning with various twinges in a hamstring, ankle and shin on one side and an Achilles on the other. Runners are rarely poetry in motion when walking, and we can spot the signs of compensating for a niggle in others. We still won’t give up our seat on the bus if we’re due a long run though, unless you’re actually on crutches.

Bake Off – that person in your office who always bakes things with a lot of oats in them, like flapjacks? Probably a runner. We tell people we only eat kale and quinoa, but really we love a bit of re-fuelling with cake.


So keep your eyes peeled around the urban jungle, the running tribe are lurking everywhere and try as they might, they never quite blend in!

3 thoughts on “Tribal Markings

    1. Bonus points as well Mrs. H – in the pic of me accidentally standing with my hands on my hipsd, if you look carefully in the background you’ll see a rogue Serpie also with her hands on her hips!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s