David Lamb Park sunrise and high fives. #5run

David Lamb Park, where the high fives start

I tend to experiment liberally with just about everything I do, high fives are no exception. I’m constantly thinking, tweaking elements of the whole high five experience – this is probably due to competitive / perfectionist disposition.

Since i’m getting requests on the specifics of high fiving other runners, i’ll attempt to map it out for y’all.

Think of the it this way: You have about 15 meters or or 3-4 seconds of real-estate with which to work. There’s a laundry list of things which need to align to pull off a successful running high five.

This is a continually evolving process as i’ve experimented with different approaches and techniques. Some work, some not so much… and some were outright embarrassing.

Lucky for you, i’ve done the heavy lifting, and will outline the art of the running high five.

Here’s how you can high five a stranger without embarrassing yourself:

1. Locate a stranger ~ Your Prospective High Fivee


This ones easy, keep your head up and gather some courage. Make sure you are looking fabulous, perhaps speed up and run with a bit more pep in your step. Presentation is important here – you want to convey a certain friendly fitness swagger.

2. Make eye contact and offer a greeting


It gets tricky here because there’s a few moving parts. Runners tend to be closed off socially, wearing headphones and staring at the pavement in front of them. Some prefer the solitude of running, staying in their bubble, or in the zone (not right now chief). This presents a challenge.

If they have headphones in, making eye-contact is the play to grab their attention. If not, a simple ‘Hi’ or ‘Good morning’ is your go-to-move. In most cases, a combination of eye contact and a quick verbal salutation is the winning formula.

Remember, we’re merely greasing the wheels, establishing an initial rapport , and getting on your new friends radar.

3. Smile


The evolutionary foundation of a smile is that it lets someone know you are not an enemy, it’s the initial stage of social lubricant. This is something you are going to need to communicate if you’re looking to share a high five with a complete stranger.

Put your pearly whites on fine display for best results (feels retarded at first). This’ll appease the stranger, get in their circle and force them to let their ‘guard’ down.

4. Extend your hand in standard High Five fashion


Runners tend to keep right (at least in north america), meaning high fives are mostly executed left-handed. Every high five is different, so read the situation.

The angle of your elbow depends directly on the width between you and your prospective runner as you pass. A couple feet between you and them may warrant a fully extended arm at shoulder height or a tad lower.

If they’re closer, you’ll need to keep a tighter angle on your elbow and hand.

5. Five it!


The climax of your micro-story. Enjoy the moment between you and your new friend. Savor the shared experience.

6. Curb your euphoria

You can’t help but grin and laugh after each successful high five. Embrace the warm, fuzzy feeling and the accompanying adrenalin rush. Use this energy to run faster, destroy the rest of your run, and start scouting the next high five!

7. Rinse, repeat, and you’ve got yourself a #5Run, friendo


Wow that was easy!

If you’re more introverted like myself, it takes a bit of courage to get started. The first high five i went for was frightening. Making yourself vulnerable isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do. I will say this: the worst thing that can happen is someone shuts you down on the high five, or you miss.

While rejection is scary remember you are still alive, outside, enjoying the day, living a good life. Move onto the next one and don’t let it faze you.

A bit of courage and you’re not only laughing – you’re helping others while helping yourself.

Your turn:

Have you tried high fiving a stranger yet?

What is your best story from high fiving a stranger?