A few months back I conducted a survey of runners and for some reason, lost in the mists of time and legend I included a question about High 5’s given and received while running. This seemed to have caught the imagination of a fair few people and caused some discussion. A few have adopted the cause with full force, and I have overcome any trepidation I may have felt to become an evangelical High 5er. The questions keep coming, and while out on stupidly long Sunday runs and marathons I have had some time to think about this. I have therefore written this guide to high 5ing to give hints and tips to ongoing high 5 success.
1) Overcome the fear.
One of the key findings of the survey I did was just how supportive runners are of each other. Due to the peculiar nature of the sport most of the time our competition is against our selves and so other participants are no kind of threat. We all want each other to do well, and your success does not diminish mine. P.B’s are celebrated in the running community because they show you have done your best, not because you have beaten somebody else. Anyway the point is, while natural reserve inhibits most runners in doling the High 5’s out, about 3/4 say they would respond positively if one came their way, so really don’t be scared to try it out, the odds are on your side. And if you are worried about looking like a lemon if it goes wrong, lets face it, who hasn’t been a dribbling sweaty wreck at the end of at least one run, being left hanging by someone you probably won’t ever see again is nothing.
2) Select your high 5ee.
I tend not to go for the 5 when there is a large group of runners either with me, or coming towards me. When I am out with my club I won’t go for it unless I already know my target. Occasionally if it is just myself and a friend I will make a move but the majority of my High 5’s are completed when I am training alone! On your own it is not only easier to get into a good position for contact but the whole thing is a little less intimidating to the other party. No one wants a huge gang of people bearing down on them with their hands raised as if they were about to be slapped silly. The same is true the other way round, try and select a runner who is also out training alone. I think this is more successful because, very briefly, as the person initiating the high 5 you are exerting some peer pressure, and people respond before they really think about it. When they are with others they look to get their approval before returning the 5 and by that time quite often you are gone!
3) Think about the time.
On the whole I find that there are different runners about throughout the week. I try and vary my training schedule, but there are those I always see in the morning, and those who do the evening. We also have our weekend athletes and the really committed daily foot sloggers. To start with I would aim to High 5 a regular nodding acquaintance you often see at the same time to help develop confidence. Although I have only been trying this out for about a month or so I imagine that daytime 5’s are always going to get a more positive response than night time attempts. Someone who you can see happily bounding along looking ready for a High 5 is much less threatening than a person looming out of the dark with their hand raised.
4) Be positive.
If you have a good feeling and exude that positivity from every pore while you run, people will see it in you. If you are looking like a miserable old goat people are not quite so keen to make contact. It’s the enthusiasm wrapped up in the high 5 that you are trying to pass on, so if you are smiling and joyful and look encouraging, people will respond in kind and pass by feeling a little better about themselves. A running High 5 is like a little compliment, and who doesn’t love a compliment ( cue hundreds of comments and tweets about what a great guy I am 😉 )
5) Give a warning.
This is probably the most important lesson for high5 success and the one that took longest to learn. At first I just raised my hand as I came toward somebody and hoped that they understood what I was doing. There was a perhaps 50% hit rate using this very basic method, quite often it was too little too late and we were gone past each other. I then started to raise my hand earlier and position myself trying to make it very obvious that I wanted a high 5. While things got better I was in no way satisfied as still too many people were focused and didn’t even seem to notice my existence, and then I remembered back to my first training High 5 experience. As I approached a chap out one morning he raised his hand said “High 5” enthusiastically and we made good solid contact, which left me with a happy buzzing warm glow. From then on I waited until the target was close and then raised my hand while calling out with a firm ‘high 5’. Nobody is in any doubt as to what is expected and my rate of hits shot up. Half the time I am sure people’s arms go up before they even think about it, and then they have a positive hit of good wishes and congratulations in one palm to palm greeting and everything is all right in the world.
So there you have it, my collection of tips for happy High 5ing. It may seem foolish and silly but I have become a big fan. Always makes me feel better, and judging from the smiles of those who respond they feel pretty good about the whole experience themselves. A bit of me is firmly convinced that all of us runners belong to one big happy club and we are there for each other, so get out there. Share the love, slap a few palms and make a few more running buddies!