The Unspoken Rules of Running

Since I’m back to running…technically walk/run until I get my legs back, I thought I’d brush up on the do’s and don’t of running etiquette…after all, one does not want to look like a total fool while thumping down the boulevard.

I’m far from an expert on running, but I’m extremely inquisitive, constantly pestering runners with all sorts of questions, and I’m damn good at researching things to death. What I have come to realize is that unlike cycling, where we all vehemently follow the simple truths of cycling etiquette, known to all my two wheeled brethren as the Velominati Code, there is no written code for runners.

Now that’s not to say there are no rules when it comes to running, well, with the exception of fashion sense, as the day glow color clashing makes one beg to differ, there is definitely an unwritten etiquette which for the most part is loosely followed, and although some are confusing, most actually make sense. So without further adieu, I bring you the unspoken rules of running…as well as some personal commentary from a cyclists point of view.

1. Run against traffic…But run on the right in parks and on paths.
Runners should travel on the left side of the road, facing traffic, so you can see and be seen by oncoming vehicles. That is, except when you’re approaching a blind curve. About 300 feet before the curve, cross to the right side of the road. When the road straightens (and traffic permits), return to the left side. On routes closed to cars, standard practice is to stay to the right-unless, of course, park signage indicates otherwise. Talk about confusing, why not just go with the flow instead of against it. I tried running against traffic and frankly it scared me to death watching the cars head right at me. Run with the traffic, your day glow colors are easily seen from at least 4 miles away! There is no way a motorist will hit you. Oh and don’t frikkin run against the traffic in a bike lane….we have enough to worry about on the road.

2. Acknowledge fellow runners.
If you see someone running towards you nod a quick hello. Enjoy a fleeting moment of shared humanity. Acknowledge each other’s travails. Cyclists do this all the time, but runners typically respond with an irritated frown or by pretending not to notice at all. There’s no harm in sharing a little love while pounding the pavement.

3. Don’t run more than two across.
It’s great that you and your running buddies like to run side by side so you can chat and laugh, but it’s not Ok to take up the entire width of the path or trail. When people, cyclists or cars approach, proceed to single file. Oh and if you are running against traffic in the bike lane, step out of the lane onto the grass to let the cyclists pass. Don’t make them swerve into traffic.

4. Dress with Dignity
Guys: if, on a sunny day, you should ever be tempted to go running without a shirt on, please think again. This isn’t Venice Beach and you’re not Matthew McConaughey. It’s an inner-city path and you’ve got a fly stuck in your back hair. Girls: bare as much as you want, but not if it jiggles more than jello.Your day glow fashion tastes are far more acceptable.

5. Stand still at red lights.
Sharks die when they stop moving. Runners do not. Keep this in mind next time your waiting to cross a busy intersection. There’s no need to jog in place or dance from foot to foot like you have to pee. Stop your watch and just chill.

6. Farts happen.
Runners ingest a fair amount of healthy/funky foods, which produce gas in the GI tract, where it cannot stay forever. Passing gas while running is excusable and inevitable. If a runner has clearly taken pains to mask flatulence, the polite thing is to pretend nothing happened. That’s not to say that a well placed and timed fart can’t be used as a tactical advantage while racing.

7. You’re only as fast as your slowest running partner.
Be courteous when running with others who are slower than you-especially if you’re running together at their invitation. To avoid subconsciously pushing the pace, make a point to remain half a step or more behind whoever is running at the front. We cyclists would never increase the pace or take advantage of other riders…or would we

8. Warn before passing someone.
The idea is for you to give the other person’s brain enough time to process the warning before the actual passing occurs. A simple verbal heads-up like “Excuse me!” or “Passing on your left!” will do.

9. Don’t litter.
Don’t do it, seriously. Look around you – it’s lovely here. So put that energy gel wrapper back in your pocket, or just use some of the gel that’s now smeared around your mouth to stick it to your face until you get home. Our jersey pockets double as mobile trash cans.

10. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Make no bones about it, you have an irrational hobby. You frequently exert considerable effort, perhaps for several hours, in order to undertake a needless journey that finishes back where you began. Look at it like that and you might think twice the next time you’re tempted to break one of the highly scientific rules above. It’s a silly thing, this sport we enjoy. Why make yourself look any sillier than you need to while you’re doing it?…particularly when wearing day glow colors.

Running: Starting up again
Run Time: 50:25
Stopped Time: 7:58
Distance: 4.00 miles
Average: 12:36 /mile
Fastest Pace: 10:07 /mile
Calories: 441
5k Run This Month: 4.00 miles
5k Run This Year: 132.31 miles

Click for Run Data


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