Running Etiquette: 18 Running Rules of the Road for Runners

 The other day my husband came back from his run and announced: “I have a topic you can write about!” He paused and then exclaimed, “Running Etiquette!”

Apparently, he was running against traffic and rounding a curve. Another runner was doing the same on the other side but was running with traffic (a big no-no). They smacked into each other. Hard. She yelled some expletives, got up, and ran off.

She was in the wrong.

And yet, I see so many people running with traffic. Maybe they don’t know the running rules of the road? Maybe they are new to the sport or get confused if there is a median in the road?

Related: How to Start Running: A Beginner’s Guide

Nevertheless, running rules and running etiquette are important for runner safety and just being an overall good sport.

I asked runners in the Instagram community to share what drives them nuts when running. A lot of people had a lot to say. The result is 18 running etiquette rules for you to follow.

18 Running Etiquette Rules for Runners to Know

  1. Run against traffic.

This one tops the list because it’s a common mistake many runners make and it’s not only a nuisance to other runners but can be dangerous.

You are supposed to run against traffic. This way cars can see you and you can see them. Cyclists go with traffic, runners and walkers go against.

If you are running on a road that has a median, you run on the inside of the road, next to the median. When in doubt, do what the other runners and walkers are doing.

One exception is when you’re going around a blind curve, you can cross the road so that an oncoming car won’t blindside you.

Related: Teach Your Kid to Ride a Bike While You Run

  1. Obey traffic signs.

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While you run against traffic, still obey traffic signs. Stop when you’re supposed to stop. Yield when you are supposed to yield. Don’t cross the stress until you have a walk sign or green light. Basically, in all other cases, you act as if you are a car to keep yourself safe.

  1. Don’t take up the whole path.

This was one of the most complained about habits runners have, running more than two people across on a path and taking up all the space. Run two abreast to leave room for other runners to pass you.

If you’re coming up on a running group that is taking up all the path, yell really loudly, “HOT STUFF COMING THROUGH!” No, I’m just kidding. But it is polite to say loudly, “Passing on your left.” 

  1. Pass on your left.

This brings up another good point, pass on your left (yes, just as if you were a car). Let people know that you are passing them, so you don’t startle them.

  1. Communicate with other runners and walkers.

This brings up another point—communicate with runners if you are going to pass them or stop or turn and they are close behind. Feel free to speak it or signal it. Raise your hand if you are going to stop. Tell other runners (especially in a race!) if you are stopping, or passing on the right, left, or splitting. 

Related: 10 Steps to Run Longer Without Stopping

  1. Be friendly.

The running community is a friendly, inclusive one. Don’t be the odd man out. So, say hi when other runners say hi. If you’re tired, muster a head nod, at least. (Although, you may find that if you smile and greet someone, you’ll get an energy boost!).

One of the biggest pet peeves runners I spoke to had was runners who didn’t say “hi” back.

  1. Don’t two-step.

This one really annoys me. Two-stepping people is when you run just two steps in front of others, making it difficult to talk and making others feel like they can’t keep up.

Whether it’s intentional or unintentional, be aware of this and do not do it!

  1. Be respectful of others’ paces.

If you’re running with a group, it’s natural to chat about how far and fast everyone is going. Have that conversation before you start and then be respectful of everyone’s pace.

Obviously, you’ll run the easiest pace of the bunch. Try to stick to that easy pace which is beneficial for all runners. Whereas, if you run a pace too fast, you could hurt yourself or someone else.

Related: Benefits of an Easy Running Pace

  1. Keep your dog leashed.

You may know that your dog is a big sweetheart, but other people don’t! So, keep your furry child on a leash out of respect for others (and their safety). We are HUGE dog lovers, but even I get nervous when strange dogs run up to me.

Once my husband and I were running together and a sweet-looking, doodley-type dog approached us and bit my husband in the ribs, breaking skin. The owner just looked at us and walked away.

Some dogs can be unpredictable. Keep them restrained.

  1. Keep your music to yourself.

While I may think that everyone appreciates Justin Bieber as much as I do, they don’t. So, I keep my music to myself by wearing air pods.

Running with your music or conversation or podcast blasting is inconsiderate of others who don’t want to hear what you want to hear.

If you’re concerned with not being able to hear cars, run with one earbud in.

  1. Stay on the outside track lanes.

    running etiquette
    Pin this running etiquette for later!

If you’re a slower runner or a walker, it is polite running etiquette to keep on the outside lanes of the track.

Honestly, there is little more infuriating in the running world than running your hardest and having to go around someone who is walking or jogging in lane one.

Unless you’re running a workout, stay to the outside lanes!

  1. Merge onto the track.

Once again, you’re like a car. If you’re jumping into a workout with other people, merge in from the outside, not the inside. Otherwise, you may cause them to trip and fall.

  1. Run counterclockwise.

When running on a track, run counterclockwise. If you’re running in the opposite direction, stay on the outside lanes.

  1. Give runners space.

If you’re running with others, don’t tailgate them. Give them some space if you’re behind them.

Caveat: Unless you are running a race. If you’re running a race, you may run right behind someone or draft off of them before you pass them. Some view this as a dirty tactic but I’m going to leave that as your call.

  1. Don’t litter.

C’mon, I feel like I shouldn’t even have to write this but runners will still throw their gel packages on the ground during training runs. Don’t do it! Hold onto it, stuff it in your bra or pocket until you find a trash can. If you are running a race, try to get the water cups in the designated cans or throw near the water stop site.

  1. Be sure drivers can see you.

If you’re running in the dark, wear reflective or illuminated clothing so cars can see you. If you’re crossing a street, make eye contact with drivers before you go.

Making sure drivers see you can save your life.

  1. Run with strollers on quiet roads.

It’s safe for your baby, you, and drivers if you keep your stroller runs on quiet roads.

Strollers are wide, especially double strollers, and thus don’t leave you a lot of shoulder room. Keep to stroller rides to sleepy streets.

Related: 12 Genius Stroller Running Tips

  1. Don’t brag about PRs.

We know you’re proud of yourself and we are proud of you, too. But there’s no need to brag about your running accomplishments. Be humble. Sit down. We’re all out there doing the best we can.

Your PR, while amazing, could be making others feel less than enough. I know that’s not your intention…

Speaking on running PRs, I’d love to help you with yours! Check out my run coaching services.





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