Race Etiquette: 10 Unwritten Rules of Running

Do’s and Don’ts of Running:

 These apply to casual everyday runs as well as races (5k’s, 10k’s, half and full marathons). They are “rules” I have read or been told by coaches, or just figured out by common sense. They are not written in stone. You can choose to follow them or not. They are simply suggestions.  🙂

  1.  Smile, wave, nod, say “good morning”, to an oncoming runner/walker. Don’t be offended if they don’t reciprocate, they might be zoning out or just didn’t hear you.
  2. Run against traffic if you are on the street (meaning, not the sidewalk). This is so you can see what is coming and jump out of the way if necessary. Especially important if you are on narrow, winding roads. (For blind left-hand turns, run on the outside of the turn) Be aware, always!
  3. Encourage other runners. If you are in a race and someone looks tired, give some words of encouragement, “We can do this” (I always say “we” so they know I’m struggling too) or “We’re almost there” (only if it’s true, nothing worse than hearing that, with 7 of 13 miles to go. 😉
  4. Be thankful! Don’t forget to thank the volunteer handing out water or Gatorade. They got up early to be there to support you, sometimes even earlier than you. Thank the people standing on the street ringing a cowbell or holding up an encouraging sign. High five the kid with his hand sticking out. It will make his/her day and surprisingly enough give you a boost of energy.  I’ve volunteered before and cheering runners on is harder than it looks! marathon sign
  5. Don’t litter! I don’t know why it seems to be accepted to throw your water cup on the ground at a race, but they do provide trash cans to throw the cups in, please use them. Running events at National Parks are usually cup free (you have to carry your own water) to avoid the trash on the ground. Also, if you see a bottle or can on the ground and you are running by a trash can, pick it up and toss it. Every little bit helps. (I’m a little obsessed with litter). Keep our neighborhoods clean. 🙂
  6. Move to the side when stopping. Please don’t come to a dead stop in the middle of the street during a race. Look around and move to the side. on the same note..
  7. Look around before you spit! I recently witnessed a lady in front of me who almost got spit on. She was not happy! Same goes for snot rockets! Look around first. I don’t do either of these but men do and I would be pissed if I was spit on.
  8. Share the road and stay to the right. Unless the street is coned off for runners and there is plenty of room for others to get around you, running 4 abreast is frowned upon. I known you all look cute in your tutus but running in pairs allows room for others. (sorry if I sound like a *itch, but people trying to PR get annoyed) Having said that, I would never comment to a group taking up the whole road, I would just hope they will notice eventually and move over. We are all out there to have fun and support one another.
  9. Keep your music to yourself. You may think everyone wants to hear what you are listening to, but we don’t. We usually are listening to our music and when you have yours blaring, we can’t hear it. Usually this is a short lived problem but occasional that person is right next to you for a while before one of you moves ahead.
  10. Pick up after your dog. This is a general rule in life, but thought it was worth mentioning. Always carry poop bags when running with your four legged friend. And last but certainly not least…
  11. Be happy, smile, relax and stay positive! Running is supposed to be fun (what?). There is no room for negativity, (in your thoughts or your outside voice). Smiling automatically relaxes you, while positive thoughts keep you going. Mile 10 sucks enough (sorry, was that too negative?) without you telling yourself it sucks. Instead, tell yourself, you can do this and you’re almost done. Trust me, it helps! Running is all in your head.


**Remember, I am writing from experience. I am not an expert. These are mostly opinions and suggestions of mine and of others that I have ran with over the years.**

Also, I was not an English Lit major. I am an Emergency Nurse. Most of my charting consists of clicking boxes, so if I’m missing a comma here or there, as pointed out by my daughter, then please just ignore it and move on. In addition, I do my best to not offend anyone, but again, I am an ED nurse and sometimes you just have to say it like it is.

If you have any additional “rules” of the road, please share below in the comment section. Your email address does not get shared with anyone.

Thanks for reading!

Keep running!


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