Spoken and unspoken etiquette rules for runners promote safety, organisation and graciousness. Many runners complain about others blocking trails and lanes, throwing trash, not signaling, and just generally showing discourtesy to other runners, cyclists, drivers, and even volunteers at racing events. Learning the rules reduces the chances of getting injured on a run or upsetting others.
1. Don’t be a road block
Sometimes a runner needs to slow down and catch his or her breath. Slowing down or stopping is fine, but doing it in a lane or the middle of a street blocks other runners. If you need to stop, move out of the road onto the sidewalk before stopping.
2. Always safety first!
Accidents do happen during runs. If you happen to come across runners who need help, you are encouraged to call for help such as alerting the right authorities along the race route immediately. Never leave injured runners to fend for themselves.
3. Share the lane
The safety rules and regulations say that runners and recreational cyclists should share bike lanes while faster cyclists can use the roads. Technically, runners and other pedestrians have the right of way and cyclists and cars are supposed to give way. However, runners should not bet their lives on vehicles looking out for them. The best way to share the bike lanes is to stay to the left so cyclists can pass on the right.
4. Running is not social hour
A major no-no with running is to stride next to someone else or multiple runners to chat. It is more difficult for runners to pass if there are people running abreast. This practice may even be dangerous if a cyclist needs to get by. The unspoken rule is to run single file, converse later.
5. Don’t Litter
Make an effort to carry empty gel packets or wrappers to the next garbage bin or tuck them in your pockets. During races, try to make an effort to throw paper cups along the course. If you need to spit or blow, make sure the area around you is clear of others!
6. Run against traffic
Runners who run on the road should run against the traffic direction. This allows runners to see oncoming vehicles. However, there is an exception. When running up hills or when coming up to a blind curve, it is safer to run on the side of the road with traffic. Cars are unable to see runners on a blind curve or at the crest of a hill so running against traffic puts runners at risk. It is ideal to cross the street before a hill and about 100 meters before a blind curve starts.
7. Warn others when passing
Listening to music while running can boost performance. Having said that, it is never safe to assume that everyone is aware of their surroundings. Bring the volume down and be alert. When you are overtaking, say “on your right” to give others a heads up.
8. Acknowledge others
Many runners consider it rude to not acknowledge other runners. Waving, nodding, and making eye contact is usually enough to express your friendliness. It is also polite to signal or wave to someone who lets others pass, be it another runner, a walker or a cyclist.
9. Don’t be a bandit
Banditing is when people run in races that they did not pay for. Banditing is not only unfair to the people who organise events and the runners that have paid, it can also increase risks of injuries. Race organisers use the number of people who enter a race to account for water and medical assistance. There is also the consideration of space. Extra, unaccounted for runners can use up amenities and create overcrowding.
10. Keeping your pets under control
Runners who bring their dogs along for runs, should keep the leash short, at most 2 meters long. Run slow enough to keep the dog under control. Also, runners are expected to stop and clean up after their dog.
11. Smile for the camera!
There are a number of photographers lined up along the routes capturing your running moments. Be nice and sporting and pose for the cameras!
Observing running etiquette will create a friendlier environment for everyone to run in. Always be courteous and gracious! Follow these 11 tips, and you’re on the way to being a considerate runner!