The Unwritten Rules of Running, According to Reddit

The Unwritten Rules of Running, According to Reddit
Photo: dotshock, Shutterstock

Everything in life has a set of etiquette rules, and running is no exception. But if you normally run by yourself, the rules may be a bit inscrutable. Here, thanks to Reddit’s r/running, are some of those “unwritten rules” that you might not know until you break them.

When and how to pass someone

Whether you’re in a race or just out for a run in a busy park, it’s pretty common to find yourself closing in on somebody who’s running just a tad bit slower than you.

“Don’t run two or three steps behind someone who you just happened upon for more than a few seconds,” says double-you-dot. If you’re going to pass them, make that decision and actually pass them.

On the flip side, if they’re running faster than you and you’re using them as motivation (that old “pretend there’s an invisible rope and they’re pulling you forward” trick), hang back and do so from a respectful distance.

When to blow a snot rocket

“Drop to the back or pull off the side of a group before you spit or snot rocket,” advises Renago47. Don’t just start spewing bodily fluids in the middle of the pack.

Know which side of the road to run on

If you’re on a road with no footpaths, walk on the left (in the U.S.), so that you’re facing traffic. This means you’ll see the cars that are coming toward you, rather than having them sneak up on you from behind. The exception is that you may move to the other side if it has better visibility around a blind curve. Safety first.

“I think this might be a written rule tbh,” says texas1hunter, referring to the fact that it is often the law. Bikes, on the other hand, should ride on the right side of the road because they are considered to be vehicular traffic.

Know how much to share with non-running friends (which is often very little)

The only thing worse than listening to a play-by-play of someone else’s weekend long run is listening to somebody recount their nonsensical dream from last night.

“Recognise that non runners couldn’t care less about your run,” says Dolphintrout. LewdDudeNoob adds: “If a non-runner asks about how a race went, let them ask more questions. Their eyes will glaze over if you volunteer too much info.”

Don’t divulge your split times or which body parts were hurting unless your conversation partner specifically asks. (If they do, they’re probably a runner themselves.) The best answer to “How was your run?” is whatever you can fit into one sentence. Then stop.

When to make space

If you’re running with a group, you still have to share the road. Leave enough space for other runners or walkers to get by you, even if that means running single file on the footpath.

“Pay attention to lane splits,” says gleenglass. “[Y]ou don’t want to be the dipshits that make a skateboarder take a hard bail because you chose not to read the signs before getting into the bike/blade/board path to walk 5 across.”

Why you should make some noise

Announce yourself if you’re gaining on somebody (especially anyone who is walking or standing still — you’re approaching faster than you may realise). “I’ve had so many people come up behind me and scare the shit out of me,” says TalkToPlantsNotCops. They like to shout “On your left!” but another redditor notes that people often aren’t sure if you’ll be on the left or if they should move to the left. (My solution is to say something like “hi” or “good morning,” which still startles people, but not as much.)

If you’re too shy for that, mickja1 has another suggestion: “I scuff my shoe on the ground when I’m 15-20′ behind them so they can hear me coming.”

When to wear the race shirt

“It’s bad luck to wear the race shirt during the race,” says runswithlibrarians. That shirt is meant to be a souvenir after you finish. The exception is that it’s always cool to wear last year’s shirt if you’ve run the race before, or you can always wear a shirt from another race.

Where to run on the track

“Stay out of lane one unless you’re doing speed work,” says JPMmiles. This is another one that’s often written; check for a sign with rules at your local track.

“Lane one” is the innermost lane of the track, and the fastest people should be there. You can hop into lane one to pass somebody or to save some distance as you round the turn, but don’t hang out there for entire laps unless you’re going so fast that you truly don’t expect anybody to pass you.

When to wave to other runners

This one is probably going to vary from place to place, but we have some opinions on when and whether to acknowledge other runners.

“It’s a requirement,” says bigherb33 of what they call the “runner’s wave.” The replies clarify that the wave may be a briefly raised hand or a simple nod and smile. The exceptions, say adrianmonk, are during races or on a trail or road that’s so crowded you would just be waving constantly.

And what if somebody waves at you? “At least nod back you fucking monsters,” says do_NOT_pm_ur_titties (an etiquette expert, clearly). If somebody smiles or waves, you should do something vaguely polite in reply.

Log in to comment on this story!