The Jogger’s Code of Conduct Concerning Eye-Contact

First, an outing: for decades I have been an early morning jogger. Having lived in different cities, an as an aide to readers, it might be useful to give a taste of what a jogger can expect in a few select cities.

  1. Vienna
    Jogging in the Prater (a large “English” city park), you are never alone. Especially, along the Hauptallee you will meet many likeminded (?) runners. If you jog regularly, after a while you will recognize some of them; you may exchange eye contact and earn a smile – or nothing. Expect – friendly, unfriendly, no response. Don’t be disappointed. If someone greets you beaming, it is likely to be an American.
  2. Washington, D.C.
    As a regular jogger, you will be friends with all the other joggers; the same if you are an irregular jogger. Even now World Bank President Bob Zoellick – not a paragon of social behaviour – greets you along the C&O Canal. Be prepared to smile back at people. If you do not like that, you better go to the fitness studio and look at the TV screen in front of you while using the running machine.
  3. Kazakhstan
    Jogging in either Almaty or Astana (recommended only in spring and fall, since winter sports temperatures of -35 C, summer of +40 C) you will be the only one. People look at you with a gaze which shows you that they think you are crazy, but they do this in a not unfriendly manner. Kazakhs would rather drive a car, or be driven in it. Many poorer ones walk long distances all day long, thus jogging is not really on their radar screen. Apart from joggers, you also see no bicycles on the road, and neither motorcycles: it is 4 wheels, or none.
  4. Sarajevo
    As lonely as in Astana, but people look at you in a way which shows you that they have seen joggers before. They themselves also don’t indulge.
  5. London
    Even after strenuous efforts for the last 3 years I have not yet managed to obtain a single eye contact from a jogger (let alone from anybody else). Studiously the (rather frequent) joggers look ahead of themselves and avoid any eye contact. Not even the otherwise rather ebullient London Mayor Boris Johnson (normally in outrageous outfits, lately more sober) does not use jogging as vote-getting by beaming at oncomers, but moves his bulk with intense study of the ground in front of him. Thus, if you have expectations of making eye or otherwise social contact, forget it: London is not the place.


Conclusion: if you are a jogger, adjust your social expectation level to the local custom; otherwise you will at best be disappointed, at worst be accosted.



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8 responses to “The Jogger’s Code of Conduct Concerning Eye-Contact

  1. Barbara Rambousek

    After years of (admittedly sporadic) jogging in London I never got eye contact from fellow joggers. I did have the occasional ‘good for you, lass’ or ‘oooh, go easy…’ from somewhat astounded pedestrians though who looked at me with a mix of pity and envy….

  2. leonore

    fun to read. greetings from ibk, leonore

  3. Joanne

    Jogging (now biking) in Wienerwald: I’ve observed a trend from the earlier times where I was met with shock but a requisite “GrussGott” to today’s friendly “Hallo”. Nicht immer aber immer mehr.


  4. Warning as to jogging in France:
    In a very short period of time, two young women’s bodies were found in the French countryside. It is just unsafe and the media report makes it common matters, and might have been a source of inspiration to some mad minds.
    Be safe.

    • kurtbayer

      Well, of course, one must have safety on one’s mind; but that should us joggers not deter us from jogging – and even making the occasional eye-contact to smile.

  5. Julia

    Great blog entry! Love it. Liebe Gruesse! Julia

    • Jane Calvert-Lee

      Where do you jog in London, Kurt? I want to meet you with a smile to show you that we aren’t all unfriendly!

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