7 Rules for Running on a Track

Follow These for Safety and Etiquette

Whether you're a beginner or experienced runner, a track is a convenient option for outdoor running. A track is usually a safer option for many reasons, as long as you understand the rules for safety and follow good track etiquette.

Run in the Right Direction

runner on track

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The typical direction for most tracks is counterclockwise, but it can vary. Look for posted signs indicating which direction to run. This rule helps prevent collisions between runners.

Some tracks alternate directions daily or weekly so runners who use the track frequently don't get a lopsided workout. You can also follow the lead of others runners and walkers if you’re not sure which direction you are going. If all of you are going the wrong way, it becomes the right way.

Run in the Correct Lane

There is a pecking order for lanes. The inner lanes are usually reserved for fast runners or those doing speed workouts. The inner track allows them to pass slower runners more easily. Never walk or stop in lanes 1 or 2 or you may become a speed bump. The slower you are relative to others using the track, the higher number lane you should use. Walkers and those who are doing their cooldown should move to the outermost lanes (lanes 7 and 8).

Don't Stop on the Track

Never stand on the track. Get your gear all set before you step onto the track so you aren't standing there adjusting your earbuds, running watch, etc. If you feel a cramp coming on, need to tie your shoelace, or get a phone call, move off the track. If you recognize another runner you haven't seen in years, move off the track to have a reunion.

Pass Correctly

Track etiquette generally calls for runners to pass others on the right if running in a counterclockwise direction, or on left if you're running clockwise. Note that this is not a universal rule, so you might have to adjust to what other track users tell you is appropriate for their track.

Respect the Hours of Use

Most tracks have times when the track is off limits to recreational runners, and you should check to see what is allowed for each track you may use. Some restrict use during school hours unless you are associated with the school, for the safety of the students. Other schools allow recreational runners to run in the outer lanes while teams are doing their workouts. Many restrict use after dark.

Dogs and Kids

The close quarters of a track is not a good place to bring your dog for a run or walk. Even if your dog is on leash he or she could easily run into another lane where someone else is running. Plus, the other runners should not have to deal with your dog's barking, urine, or feces.

It's great to get the kids into running by having them run on the track, but it's important that they follow the rules as well. Don't allow your child to stop or stand on the track. Check to see if you can use a jogging stroller on the track if you have little ones. While you might park your child in a stroller while you circle the track, be courteous if your child begins to cry. Especially, be alert so your child doesn't wander onto the track.

Listen to Music With Caution

Don't broadcast your music to others with a "boom box" or speaker. You're in a safer environment on the track, but it is wise not to cut off your sense of hearing completely with headphones or earbuds. Listen to your running music at a very low volume or with one earbud out so you're aware of your surroundings and can hear other runners behind you.

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