Skip to content
Running Etiquette The Unspoken Rules for Runners

Running Etiquette - The Unspoken Rules

The beauty of running is that you can do it whenever you wish, without the need of expensive equipment, booking a venue or waiting for the gym to open. Just put on your shoes, and get outside!

However, whilst out on my easy 5 mile this week a few things happened; a car jumped a red light when I was crossing, I had to skip past a dog darting around on the footway and a pedestrian stepped sideways in front of us. In addition to enjoying our running, we need to be aware of people going about their everyday lives.

This got us thinking. How are we as runners perceived?

What can we do to make sure we don't get a bad reputation?

What is the runner's 'code of conduct - the largely unspoken rules'

Here's our rundown of running etiquette;

General Rules for Running

  • Don’t hog the road or trail - Ideally, don't run more than two abreast allowing other users to enjoy the path or trailWhen people, cyclists or cars approach, proceed to single file. Always let others pass.
  • MP3 Devices - Leave them at home for a group run. Listening to music is some people's form of energy boost or their shut off on long runs but when running alone be aware of your surroundings, listening to music shuts off your sense and awareness of danger.
  • Acknowledge fellow runners - Always a great topic for debate, but it doesn't hurt to be courteous and make a gesture of recognition to fellow runners. Brief eye contact and a quick nod or smile is pleasant to receive and always try to return the greetings of fellow runners.
  • Let people know your around - It's always polite to warn before passing someone. Alert pedestrians when you are passing them with a simple cough or a verbal heads-up like "excuse me!" or "passing on your left!" warning will suffice. Do not assume they are aware of their surroundings. Especially in the dark, it's quite easy to scare the life out of someone if you approaching at speed from behind!
  • Farts happen - Passing wind is an unavoidable byproduct of what we eat and the movements in our bodies caused while running. Always try and step outside of the group before the act!
  • Spitting - If you must, then at least look before you spit.
  • Respect private property - Along your route try to avoid relieving yourself in public spaces, however we know this sometimes cannot be avoided but never in someone's garden.

Rules of the road and trails

On the Road
  • Run against traffic - Runners should travel on the right side of the road, facing the traffic. This is so you can see and be seen by oncoming traffic. The exception to this rule is when you're approaching a blind bend or corner. If you can't see around it, neither can a driver coming the other way. On approaching, cross to the right side of the road and when the road straightens (and traffic permits) return to the left. Don’t run down the middle of the road.
  • Stop at junctions - Ensure oncoming traffic yields, before proceeding across a road. Don’t assume cars will stop if you are entering a crossing. Also, there's really is no need to jog on the spot or dance from foot to foot like you have to pee. Stop your watch and just chill.
On the Trail
  • Run on the right in parks, on paths and multi-use trails - On routes closed to cars, standard practice is to stay to the right unless, of course, park signage indicates otherwise, and to pass on the left. Don’t run down the middle of the trail.
On the Track
  • Run on the inner lanes, walk in the outer ones - Rules exist on running tracks to make behavior predictable and safe. The most universal rule is that faster runners stick to the inside lanes while walkers and runners doing recovery jogs should occupy the outer ones. If you are approaching a runner from behind alert them with a simple gesture of "track!"

General Rules for Running in an Event

  • The Start Area - Enter the start area at the appropriate place for your planned pace and line up according to how fast you plan to run. Slower runners and walkers should move to the back of the race pack. Just because you arrived early does not mean you should be at the front of the starting line.
  • Don't stop abruptly - Stopping during a race in the path of other runners can cause carnage. Always move to the side first!
  • Litter - Don't throw drinks at the feet of the runners behind you, always try and keep the route clear.  Discard your bottles and gels thoughtfully
  • Race Rules - Follow the rules of the race outlined on the race entry form. All runners have a collective responsibility to keep the event safe. Races will have rules with regards to running with dogs, MP3 \ headphones, mobile phones, and jogging buggies.
  • There wouldn't be a event without them - Always thank the volunteers.

I'm sure we haven't listed them all but it's a start. Stay safe and Happy running.

About the Author
XMiles Founder and Nutrition Adviser
Follow Anthony on Twitter & Instagram
Previous article The Role of Carbohydrates in Rugby Performance
Create your nutrition list
To start, click the button. Follow the prompts, and create your nutrition list.

It’s your choice - with our knowledge.