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Rules for Running on a Track

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Updated March 24, 2014

Whether you're a beginner or experienced runner, a track is a convenient option for outdoor running. You don't have to worry about cars, the marked distances (1 lap = 400m or about 1/4 mile) make it easy to time and measure your workouts, and the softer surface is easier on your joints than concrete or asphalt. Here are some basic etiquette and safety rules for track running.

Run in the right direction.

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Jordan Siemens/The Image Bank/Getty

The typical direction for most tracks is counterclockwise, but it can vary. Look for posted signs indicating which direction to run (some alternate directions daily) or follow the lead of others runners and walkers, if you’re not sure.

Pass on the right.

Track etiquette calls for runners to pass others on the right for a counterclockwise direction, on left if you're running clockwise.

Run in the correct lane.

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Cavan Images
If you're there to do an easy run, stick to the two outermost lanes on the track. The inner lanes are usually reserved for fast runners or those doing speed workouts. And, 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.

Listen to music with caution.

I've never heard about a track that bans people from wearing headphones, but like when you're running on the road or trails, you should make sure you don't completely cut off your sense of hearing. 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.

More: Can I Wear Headphones in a Race?

Respect the hours of use.

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Brand X Pictures

Most tracks have times when the track is off limits to recreational runners, like during a track meet. Some schools allow recreational runners to run in the outer lanes while teams are doing their workouts, but you should ask if you're not sure whether it's allowed.

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