Awkward Running Moments We’ve All Had

awkward running moments

If you run enough miles, you eventually will have those moments. The awkward running moments that will leave you red-faced (and not from the workout) and hoping that no one else noticed.

Some of the moments are just awkward. Other are gross and involve various bodily fluids. What can I say? Runners are gross.

Awkward Running Moments

Despite our best intentions, we occasionally will make fools of ourselves.

We’ve all had at least a few awkward moments… at least I hope we have.

It’s not just me, right?

awkward running moments

The Not-Quite Snot Rocket

Here’s the scenario: you have a runny nose on a run, but realize that you have forgotten a kleenex. You hold down one nostril and blow, attempting the perfect snot rocket.

But you miss.

Either you don’t have enough oomph in your blow, or it’s windy, or you are just off.

You have experienced the not-quite snot rocket.

Even after running for 20 years, the one runner skill I can’t quite master is the snot rocket. But even those who have mastered it will occasionally have a miss, which is a messy and kinda gross affair.

I’m determined to master the snot-rocket at some point in my running career, but maybe it’s a subconscious fear of the not-quite snot rocket that is keeping me from nailing it.

The Overzealous Greeting

Here’s the scenario: You are running and see another runner you know. You say hi or do the mini-wave greeting that runners do.

Only to discover, as you continue to approach each other, that it isn’t the runner you think you know. It is, in fact, a total stranger.

While greeting a stranger is a nice thing to do (and should be encouraged), the overzealous greeting always feels a little awkward.

The Unintentional Snub

This is the flip side of the overzealous greeting: the unintentional snub.

Here’s the scenario: You are running, and just as you pass someone you realize you know them. Extra awkward bonus points if they were saying hi and you didn’t realize until it was too late to reciprocate.


This is the awkward moment I am most often guilty of myself.

When I am running, I tend to get lost in my own little world. I’ll get lost in thought or I’ll be listening to a podcast and be kind of oblivious to those around me.

So often I realize that I snubbed someone (unintentionally, I swear) two seconds too late.

And then I spend the rest of the run worried that I seem rude.

The Super-Sweaty Post-Race Hug

Here’s the scenario: You finish a race, get your finisher’s medal and are so filled with emotion and enthusiasm that you can’t help but hug someone. Anyone.

Never mind that you are sweaty, covered in crusty sweat, and probably smell something fierce.

I’m not a hugger and even I have the urge to do this.

Sometimes friends and family are around and they get the brunt of the smelly hug. That’s gross, but not terribly awkward. Significantly higher on the awkward scale is when unknown race volunteers get the hug.

I’ve been on both sides of this hug, the sweaty runner and the volunteer handing out finishers medals. These hugs are smelly, sweaty, and are way more inspiring than gross.

But hugs with strangers are always awkward, this is no exception.

Bathroom Sans The Bathroom

Here’s the scenario: You are running in a race and you suddenly have to pee.

Why is there never a porta-potty when you need one?

What creates the awkwardness here? This one is gender specific.

For the dudes: Why wait in a porta-potty line if you don’t have to? At every large race I’ve ever done there is some point in the course where there is a line of dudes peeing against a wall.

I don’t know how it feels to be the dude in this scenario (I have to believe it’s a little bit awkward), but I know for the ladies observing it, it’s equal parts awkward (do you look? do you try to ignore it? cheer?) and jealousy (what I would give to not have to wait in the porta-potty line).

For the ladies: We ladies have very few options when we need to pee mid-run. Usually, we have no choice but to wait until the next porta-potty and then wait in line.

However, on a trail run, there is a whole new world of awkward off-trail adventures to be had when you have to pee. All concerns for your finish time are chucked out the window when you have to find a suitable bush (free of poison oak! Don’t forget to check!) that is out of view of other runners.

Extra awkward bonus points when you get back to the trail only to run into another runner and you share the unspoken acknowledgment of your off-trail necessity.

A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
But that doesn’t make it less awkward.

Sara is a runner, running coach, writer, blogger, and a lover of all things written.

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