The Rules of Running Etiquette You Need to Know

Two runners run on a sidewalk together

Everything you need to know to follow running's unspoken rules

Running isn’t always as easy as right foot, left foot. There are unsaid rules you’re expected to follow. And even experienced runners don’t know (or follow) them all. So, to make it easy, we put together a list for with all the dos and don'ts you need to know before you hit the road, trail or bike path again:

Run against traffic.

Yep, this is a big one. Run toward oncoming vehicles so that you can easily see them and they can easily see you. It’s much harder to jump out of the way if you don’t see or hear a car approaching.

Stay on the sidewalk whenever possible.

Because, as a runner, you’re considered a pedestrian. And that means you need to follow the same rules as a pedestrian. Stay on the sidewalk and cross crosswalks with caution (and when the intersection light is red, or the “walk” light is flashing).

Alert slower movers that you’re going to pass.

Not only is it rude to whiz by a slow-moving pedestrian on the sidewalk, but it’s also dangerous. Here are a couple of tips to consider.

  1. If you’re in town on a busy sidewalk or street and you’re approaching someone, speak loudly to indicate you’re going to pass, tell them which side you’ll be passing on and give them an ample girth.

  2. If you’re on a singletrack trail with little room to pass, let the slower runner or walker know you’re there, that you’d like to pass and that you’ll wait till the trail opens up enough for you to safely do so.

Keep a large group skinny.

Put simply: Don’t take up the whole path. If you’re running with a large group, run with no more than two abreast, and pay attention to the other runners, walkers and cyclists around you. The last thing you want to do is push someone off the path. It’s rude and dangerous.

A smiling woman runs with her dog on a leash on the sidewalk

Follow leash laws if you’re running with your pup.

Just because you think your dog is the sweetest, most well-behaved canine in the world, it doesn’t mean that other trail or bike path users share your sentiment. Keep your pet close by and away from other trail users.

When you’re on a track, don’t run clockwise in the first few lanes.

There’s an order to things. And track running most often goes counterclockwise. Still, if you want to run the opposite direction, make sure you’re well out of the way of anyone in the middle of a workout. This usually means you need to stick to the outer lanes.

And, despite all of this, occasionally tracks have rules about reversing directions every day. So, be sure to read signage before stepping onto the oval for your speed session.

Wave or not; it’s okay.

Just because you wave at someone (or vice versa), it doesn’t mean the other person has to wave back. Don’t take it personally. For as many people as there are who like to chat while exercising, there are just as many who prefer to zone out. Don’t let a lack of hello back ruin your day; let it go and keep on truckin’.

Don’t drop gel packets on the ground.

Take care of the places where you live and run; throw away your trash.

Listen to what’s happening around you.

Listening to music is OK. In fact, listening to music might even help you run faster, stronger and longer. However, never listen to music at the expense of hearing your surroundings. That’s why Aftershokz are the bomb. Thanks to bone-conduction technology, the speakers sit right outside your ears, so you can jam out and hear and respond to the noises of the world around you.

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