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Etiquette 101 for Runners

running Feb 22, 2021

Ever wondered which side of the sidewalk you should use to pass another runner, or whether that person who never waves to you when he runs by is truly in the zone or just being rude?

When you’re out on a run, you’re usually tuned into a million things — your pace, your music, that podcast you’re suddenly obsessed with, the conversation you’re having with your running buddy, or when that next hill is coming up. You’re probably not as concerned about making sure you’re minding your manners. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important.

When you’re out on a run, there are a few basic rules to keep in mind to make sure you’re being considerate of other runners and passers-by. They may seem like common sense, but they’re definitely worth remembering if you don’t want anyone cursing your dust instead of eating it.

 

Running rules of thumb:

 

  • Face the traffic.

When you’re running on the road, always make sure you’re running on the side that faces the traffic. Running against traffic is the best way to ensure oncoming cars can see you, and the best way to avoid a car coming from behind and catching you (and them) unawares.

 

  • Use the crosswalk.

If you need to cross the street, make sure you use the crosswalk. It will keep you safe from the danger of two-way traffic and, well, that’s what it’s there for.

 

  • Ditch the earbuds (or at least one of them).

While that distracting music or podcast is good at getting you through your 12-miler, earbuds can make it difficult or even impossible for you to hear traffic signals or passing indications from other runners, walkers, or cyclists on your route.

If you absolutely must run with background noise, keep the volume low and one earbud out.

 

  • Wear lights, or bright-colored or reflective clothing.

This rule is especially important at night, when drivers may have trouble seeing you in the dark.

 

  • Run no more than two abreast.

If you’re running with a group, it’s good manners to form a single-file line when passing or to only run two side by side if you can. That way, it’s easy for anyone passing from behind or in front to get by.

 

  • Tell people you’re going to pass them.

You should always warn someone before passing so you don’t scare them and so they know to move to the side. Also, pass people on the left, unless you’re on a track, in which case pass on the right.

 

  • Don’t make a sudden U-turn.

This rule often ties in with ditching your earbuds. Not speaking from personal experience at all, but if you’ve ever turned around on an out-and-back run with music blaring only to be almost overrun by some cyclists, you know why.

 

  • Leave no man (or woman) behind.

When you’re on a group run, make sure everyone has a buddy, or, if there are only two of you and your buddy stops because of a cramp, ankle pain, whatever, do not run off without your buddy. (Again, common sense and similar to what you learned about always sticking with your buddy in the first grade, but no less important to remember as an adult!)

 

  • Wave if you want, but don’t take it personally if it’s not reciprocated.

Some runners prefer to zone out while they’re running and not focus on anyone around them, but others derive energy from the camaraderie of waving and interacting with people they pass.

 

  • Follow the rules on a track.

Slower runners typically stick to the outside lanes on a track and faster ones to the inside. When you’re running on a track, you should also look for posted rules to see if there is a certain direction you should be going. If you don’t see anything, follow the direction others are going.

Running should be fun and carefree, but you can’t throw all your manners out the window the minute you hit the pavement. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to be respectful of others’ space. Just remember what you learned in the first grade, be safe and considerate, and you’ll be good to go.

 

Now get out there and run your life.

 

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