25 Basic Etiquette Rules for Running

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When running on trails, paths, a track, or roads, it's important for runners to follow a basic set of rules to keep those areas safe and enjoyable for everyone, including non-runners. Below are some basic safety and etiquette guidelines to follow if you're running along a multi-use path, your local track or trails, or on the road.

Etiquette Rules for Running

There are a variety of common-sense guidelines that can help your running experience be more safe and enjoyable. There are also a few racing rules that are helpful to know if you participate in a running event. Keep these practices in mind when you run.

For Your Safety

  • Follow the posted rules if you're running on a track. Typically, runners proceed only in one direction and outer lanes are for slower runners and walkers. If there are no posted rules, ask other runners on the track or follow their lead.
  • Reconsider headphones especially on unfamiliar paths. You need to be able to hear traffic and signals from other people using the path or trail. If you really need music as a distraction, keep the volume low and one earbud out.
  • Always look both ways before entering or exiting a path when you are approaching intersections. Even if you're running on a one-way street, there may be runners, walkers, or cyclists coming from the other direction.
  • Wait for drivers to see you before proceeding through driveways and other intersections without signage. Make eye contact with the driver if you can.
  • Wear bright-colored or reflective clothing so that drivers can see you at night (and even during the day). Lighted shoe accessories are also available that help you become more noticeable to drivers and cyclists.

Staying safe on the road means seeing others and making sure that others see you. Wear bright clothing and stay alert when you run.

On the Road

  • Run single-file or two abreast if you're running with a group. This allows other runners, pedestrians or cyclists to pass without forcing them off the path or into oncoming traffic.
  • Merge cautiously when you pass. Look over your shoulder for other runners or cyclists who might be passing you.
  • Run facing traffic if there is no sidewalk or running path. Stay to the side and as far from traffic as possible.
  • Pass on the left and state your intentions to the person(s) you are passing. Say "on your left" so they know to move to the right.
  • Avoid the middle of the road even though it may be the most comfortable place to run.
  • Don't make sudden U-turns if you are running an out and back route. Always look behind you before turning around.

Respect your fellow runners (and cyclists, drivers, and other path users) by signaling your intentions when you change directions or pass.

Race Day

  • Move to the side before slowing down to walk or stopping to tie your shoe, stretch, or take a drink from your water bottle.
  • Signal to those behind you if you're going to slow down or start to walk. This prevents runners behind you from having to maneuver around you.
  • Choose your starting corral wisely. Allow faster runners to take the lead corrals. Slower runners and walkers should start at the back.
  • Stay to the back of the pack if you are walking or jogging in a group, running with a pet, or jogging with a stroller (when allowed). While this may be a fun run for you, it may be a competitive event for those around you.
  • Signal your pass if you need to squeeze through a tight space to pass another runner. This is especially important if the runner ahead of you is wearing headphones.
  • Wear your bib number as directed. Most races require you to wear the number on your front.
  • Keep moving through the finish line when you complete your race. Even if you are exhausted, you risk getting hit by other runners if you stop right away.

Display good sportsmanship on race day by allowing others to pass, stepping to the side if you need to walk and moving briskly through the finish line when you've completed your run.

Mind Your Manners

  • Don't carry loose change or a set of keys in your pocket. Although the constant jingling or clanging may not bother you, it could annoy those who are running near you.
  • Don't drop clothing along a racecourse or jogging path, especially on someone's private property, unless the race allows. Your neighbor's yard is not your closet, but many larger races have clothing donation partners and clothes will get recycled.
  • Don't toss trash such as water bottles, gel, or bar wrappers on the ground. An exception to this is if you're running in a race. In that case, volunteers expect to pick up water cups discarded near aid stations.
  • Respect private property. Stay off of lawns, out of yards, and out of private cemeteries, parks, and other protected properties when you are running.
  • Don't relieve yourself in someone's yard, or in any other area where you might be seen by pedestrians or park users. You might not be shy but others may not be comfortable with it. You can also check for a port-a-potty, an open business, or a kind neighbor along the course.
  • Keep your fluids to yourself. If you need to spit, blow your nose, or throw-up, move to the side of the road and do it there.
  • Most importantly, don’t cheat. While this might seem obvious, some people are tempted to cut the course or run with someone else’s bib number. It's not allowed, so just don't do it.
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