Always be friendly when you are out training. If you see somebody running in the other direction, then smile or wave or nod. If you come up behind somebody, let them know you are there by saying, “On your left,” or “On your right,” before you pass them. If you see somebody you could run with, then say hello and see if they want some company. It (usually) beats running alone.
Yesterday I had an 18 miler slated in my training schedule. I ran the first 10 miles with a friend of mine who is running the Maine Marathon next weekend, and then had another 8 to look forward to running alone.
As I got back to the road to continue on my second loop, I saw a gentleman running up who seemed to be going at about the right pace. I introduced myself and fell into step, and had somebody to chat with for the next 3 or 4 miles. I did not have to run alone and had somebody to keep me from running to fast for the workout, and he got to go at a slightly quicker pace than he otherwise might have had he been running the entire way alone.
This was not an isolated incident. I have run with random people that I met while out running on numerous occasions. Sometimes I will have seen somebody around at a race, sometimes I will know them by name, and sometimes the person might be a complete stranger.
Most of the time, I never see the person again. Now and again, I do see the people at local races or out training again, and I will usually say hi and chat for a few minutes. Now and again I get new training partners and friends.
Not all of the people that I chat up while I am running want to be friendly or want to run with me. Not all of them are actually going at a pace that I want to run at. However, the worst thing that has ever happened to me for trying to be friendly or run with somebody is that they ignore me or tell me not to bother them.
So next time you are out running and you spot somebody doing their own workout nearby, be friendly. Smile, wave, nod, say hello. Make a new friend, even if it is only for a few minutes.