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9 Basic Etiquette Rules for Running

How to Be a Polite Runner


Updated May 16, 2014

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.

1. Don't take up the whole road.

Sam Diephuis/The Image Bank

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.

More: How to Share the Roads With Cyclists

2. Stay to the right unless you're passing.

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

3. Follow the rules of a track.

Jordan Siemens/The Image Bank/Getty

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.

Also see: Rules for Running on a Track

4. Don't jingle.

Whenever possible, don't carry loose change or a set of keys in your pocket. They'll annoy those who are running near you.

5. Make sure you can hear.

Runner Wearing Headphones
Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images

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.

6. Never stop suddenly in the middle of a run.

If you need to stop to tie your shoe or stretch, move over to the side of the road or path first. Make sure you look before moving over to the side to make sure you are not cutting someone off. 

7. Look both ways.

Always look both ways before entering or exiting a path, when you are approaching intersections and at drinking fountains.

8. 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.

Also see: How to Do the Run/Walk Method

9. Don't litter.

Don't throw water bottles, gel or bar wrappers, or any other trash on the ground.


More: How to Be a Polite Race Participant
Eco-Friendly Running Tips
Runners' Top Pet Peeves
How to Behave During Group Runs

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