9 Basic Etiquette Rules for Running

How to Be a Polite Runner

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.

Don't Take Up the Whole Road

group trail running
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If you're running with a group, try not to run more than two abreast, so others can pass you.  Don't force other runners, pedestrians or cyclists off of the path. When running with a group in a very busy area or a narrow path, run single file.

Stay to the Right Unless You're Passing

Be very careful merging left into a passing lane. Turn around and look out for cyclists or other runners who could be passing you.

Follow the Rules of a Track

woman runner on track
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If you're running on a track at your local high school or other location, make sure you're following the posted usage rules, such which direction to run or which lanes to use (typically, outer lanes for slower runners and walkers). If there are no posted rules, ask other runners on the track or follow their lead if you're unsure what to do.

Don't Jingle

Whenever possible, don't carry lose 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.

Make Sure You Can Hear

Runner Wearing Headphones
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You need to be able to hear requests ("on your left") and warnings ("look out – dog!") from other runners and people using the path or trail, so it's not a good idea to wear headphones when running outside. If you really need music as a distraction, keep the volume low and one earbud out.

Never Stop Suddenly in the Middle of a Run

If you need to stop to tie your shoe, stretch, or take a drink from your water bottle, move over to the side of the road or path first. Make sure you look before moving over to the side so you're not cutting someone off. 

Look Both Ways

Always look both ways before entering or exiting a path, when you are approaching intersections and at drinking fountains. Even if you're running on a one-way street, there could be runners, walkers, or cyclists coming from the other direction.

Move to the Side or Signal if You're Taking a Walk Break

If you're a run/walker, make sure that you move to the side or signal to those behind you if you're going to slow down to take a walk break.  Otherwise, runners behind you may accidentally run into you or get annoyed that they have to maneuver around you.

Don't Litter

When running on trails, paths, or roads, don't throw water bottles, gel or bar wrappers, or any other trash on the ground. An exception to this, of course, is if you're running in a race. In that case, it's OK to throw an empty cup on the ground at the water stops, since the race volunteers will clean them up.

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