Share the Road (Running Etiquette 101)

English: A red bike lane on the side of a high...

For my long run this week, I deviated from the usual quiet route in lieu of one with a bit more “traffic”.  The trolls, however, were out in force that day and reminded me of a few rules of the road runners must take upon themselves to follow.

Run against traffic. Keep a close eye on anything coming toward you. I usually run with music blaring in my ears and depend on my ability to spot anything in my “space”.

I met a lifeguard once and I peppered him with questions about how do you notice that one child is under the water when the pool is full of bobbing heads? He said you look for the exception – scan for heads that are under the water when they shouldn’t be.

The same rule can apply to running – look for the car, or person, that’s where they shouldn’t be. Notice the truck that goes in reverse up ahead or a turn signal that just came on as you’re passing.

The Exception: around a sharp, blind curve the rules say you should cross the street so you can spot oncoming traffic and they you. Crossing the street is always a level more dangerous though and I usually opt for running on the shoulder through the curve when possible.

bike and pedestrian lane

Yield to cyclists. You can see there are no cars behind that cyclist, but he/she probably can’t. It’s dangerous for them to swerve into traffic to go around you. I usually step off the road  and stop running until they have passed. If they go out of their way to make room for me to continue, only then do I step back into the road. But I know they have appreciated that I deferred to them.

Don’t yell obscenities, verbal or otherwise, to the motorists. Some drivers are in their own world (we runners understand this) and are oblivious to anything going on in their peripheral. This means we sometimes get run off the road, have close calls or jump into the nearest ditch at the last second. If I yell and scream at a motorist, or make a gesture that speaks louder than words, and then you happen to come across that same driver just a few blocks down the road, they may take their revenge out on you! Its ok, really. Let it go.

If you run with a friend, don’t take up the whole trail. Allow runners to pass……especially in a race!

If you are the runner passing another runner or walker, give a heads up by saying something like “On your left/right.” Avoid surprise attacks.

scream and shout

Don’t give evil looks to runners who pass you….no matter what you’re thinking about them.

Slower runners and walkers keep in the right lanes on the track, faster runners on the inside. Kind of like driving – slow-moving persons keep right.

Carefully move to the right and/or off the course should you need to spit, remove clothing, feel the need to spit, talk to your friend, spit, answer your cell phone, spit, or tie your shoe.

Last but not least, let’s be friendly out there. It’s one of those unspoken rules that you should give a nod to a fellow runner. I would stretch this and say give a friendly nod to all fellow souls, including cyclists, pedestrians, drivers, whoever you may encounter.

Drivers sometimes seem annoyed that you’re on their road. I am determined to befriend these folks and wave, smile or nod. When someone is courteous enough to give me a bit of space on the road when they pass by me, I always wave and nod thanks. If you see another runner on the other side of the road, wave or nod hello.

Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner

Maybe you’re having a tough run or it’s been a bad day and you don’t feel like being friendly. Just remember, a smile makes everyone feel better — including yourself.