SparkPeople Blogs  •  rules  •  running

Do You Follow Good Running And Walking Etiquette?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I've been a runner for a number of years now. Sometimes I train on my own, sometimes with a small group, and other times with very large groups depending on the race. No matter how big or small, I always seem to notice things other runners do that get on my nerves. I think there's a basic code of etiquette all runners (and walkers) should follow. I try not to focus on the negative things in life, and I don't think my expectations are too unreasonable. But take a look and see what you think.

1. Like it or not, pedestrians do not rule the road. Cars, trucks, bikes- they are all bigger than you and can do a lot of damage if you end up getting hit. So make sure you wait until it's clear to cross the road, and don't assume that vehicles will willingly share the shoulder. Sometimes you have to be ready to jump up on the curb or in the grass if someone won't give you the space you need.

2. If you are going to spit (or do something similar), make sure you have enough distance between you and the person behind or next to you. It's never fun to have to dodge someone's spit, or even worse, be hit by it. Yes, I've seen it happen.

3. Don't be a litter bug. When training for long distance runs, many times you have to carry fuel with you (Gu, sport beans, candy, etc.). Be sure to clean up after yourself. It's no one else's job to pick up my wrappers because I didn't feel like finding somewhere to store them while I finished my run.

4. When passing other runners or walkers, say hello. I've always said that true runners (and walkers) greet each other instead of passing in silence. If you're wearing headphones, keep the volume low enough so that you can hear someone as they come past. It's always a bummer when I say hello to someone with headphones but they don't respond because they can't hear me.

5. If you are running with someone on a narrow path or sidewalk and another runner (or walker) approaches, give them room to pass. It's never nice to make someone jump into the grass because they don't have enough room to get by.

Those are just a few of the basic courtesies I think runners and walkers should follow when out on the road. Do you agree? Do you have any others to add to the list?

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SIGLED 6/17/2018
Good advice! Report
EABL81 6/6/2018
One for hikers: When hiking on a narrow, steep trail, the uphill hiker has the right of way. It is customary for the downhill hiker to step to the side of the trail and let them pass. Older hikers seem to know this, but not everyone appears to. Report
CHERYLHURT 4/16/2018
Thanks Report
TCANNO 1/30/2018
good advice Report
7STIGGYMT 12/13/2017
Great tips to follow. I would like to add, NEVER trust a car that has backup lights on. The driver may not see you! Report
AIYANASMAMA 12/11/2017
Thanks Report
SLYDE-GLYDER 12/5/2017
Basic common sense an courtesy. Report
Personally, I'm cranking my jams because I'm in my own world. I deal with other people day in and day out. Running is my time to unplug. I'll wave or nod, but that's the extent of it. If others see it as rude, that's fine with me. Imma do my thing. Report
GMAM48 11/2/2017
Stay off electronics when you are crossing streets. Keep your eyes and ears on traffic. Report
FRAN0426 10/25/2017
I have always thought acknowledging someone coming toward you is the right thing to do. It doesn't take anytime and shouldn't disrupt anyone's activity if you follow doing so. Report
My kids laugh at me, but when I pass someone else, I warn them - "Passing on your left".
Sometimes I feel silly - but it is worth it. Most times I get a thank you or a smile. I think we've all been pushed off the paths or trails by another runner/walker/biker at some point. It can be a little scary!

cj Report
great post and i do my best to follow all the rules....makes me feel like a better person even if the other person did not respond to me.... Report
I follow all of these rules as a rollerblader! I always warn people I am approaching on the left. A pet peeve of mine is when walkers/runners use the center of the track. Please stay to the right of the track to allow other users to easily pass by. And dog walkers please keep your friends on a short enough leash that they don't run out in front of bladers/bikers. I fear this last one every time I see a dog on a retractable leash on a shared trail!! Report
I so agree with this blog. Where I live we have a path shared by walkers, runners and bicycles. It is so annoying when you meet and you have to get out of the way because people on bikes refuse to give you any room. Report
Ditto to all. It takes no extra time to be courteous! What a better place the world would be if we just took the time to be polite and say hello! Report
Walk like you drive. Granted there are some poopy drivers out there too but: keep to the right, pass on the left when it's safe and let people know when you're coming up behind them - people don't have rearview mirrors. Report
I like the list and think the safety guidelines would be a nice addition. Run/walk against traffic, where reflective vest, belt or clothing... Report
Its kind of a sad state of affairs when someone has to post a blog about this type of stuff, but its true - alot of people just don't have the common sense anymore on the road when walking or running. I often see people walking not just on the side of the road anymore but in the MIDDLE, then they don't MOVE over enough for a car to get by. I just don't understand it! Report

Number 4 is just stupid. Forcing others to say hello and interrupting their routine is not only not GOOD etiquette, it is actually rude. It is also not a good idea for women runners to interact with random males on the street. Report
No Date like the present date. Report
These certainly are NOT unreasonable. Some of it is just common sense, which some individuals lack.

Thanks for sharing! Report
Where a reflector vest so people can SEE you. Report
I really hate when I run pass someone and I'll give'em a hi with a head nod and I don't get any resond Report
I run in a group and I actually find it stressful when we don't yield to oncoming or passing walkers, runners or bikers. We are usually careful to go single file when others approach, but that can be a challenge in the dark. We got scolded today by biker. A simple bell like ZYXKONRAD uses would have been a much more civilized approach. It is kind of sad that this biker started his day out so grumpy. Report
I'd like to ADD a rule - be SEEN if you're running or walking when it's dark out. Light yourself up like a Christmas tree if you have to. This is only to keep you from getting hurt/injured.

Keep on moving :)
You are right on the money..I also agree with doesn't hurt someone to give a nod or a smile!! Report
I love the "hello"/wave/head nod/eye contact. I didn't know this was a running 'rule' until I started running about two months ago. Once I noticed others doing it, I made a point to do it as well. I told my husband that it makes me feel like I'm in the runners' club! Report
How true! Report
I try to be polite whenever I'm on the bike path. I was riding today and gosh, but I forgot how busy the path can be on a nice day ! I've found most people are very respectful. You just have to be careful of their pets and kids. Today, I had to veer out of the way of more dogs, than I did runners or walkers. Ditto children. Because the weather is becoming nice, lots of families are taking walks... with their pets.

Most people are fine, but their dogs can be a challenge. I did have one cute little dog chase me for a while. shoo... shoo... Folks, let's remember to not only be mindful of ourselves, let's be mindful of our dogs. I've nearly run into lots of dogs and they've nearly run into me.

Great tips...I just moved to a new city/state and NO ONE...well maybe 1% of the runners I pass or who pass me says hello. I think it's very rude...I attribute it to the new area. Just generally not very nice people. Hmmph! Report
In Germany, it's a law that bicycles have to be equipped with bells. And the bells are used to signal an approach, usually to pedestrians. I tried to make it a quiet "ping" so it wouldn't sound aggressive. It works just great. We all have bells on our bikes at home, though the understanding here isn't as good.... Report
I agree with all of these rules. I don't get bent out of shape however when someone doesn't return my greeting. I figure they are into their own workout and not just being snobby. Also, I wave at all the cars who move over toward the center of the road. I run on a mostly country road, so there are generally not cars going both ways. I don't assume however that they will get over and always make sure that I have an exit area to the left. There are some roads that I don't run because off the little (6-8" ) shoulder is a drop off and it doesn't give me an exit path. Report
I'm with #160!

Couple of other things:

Spitting = GROSS. Period. Just swallow it. You need the liquid anyway. Just - eew.

Heaphones - I don't require you to be cheerful, but if you really can't hear me, then you can't hear a lot of things that could well be a danger to you. Too-loud headphones aren't just a courtesy issue. They're a safety one.

Passing - slower traffic to the right, please (UK, Japan, and Samoa excepted). If I am coming up behind someone, I'll say "coming up on your left" or just "on your left." Surprises from behind are rude. Report
Makes sense to me. I'm a newbie runner, and I promise to obey all these courtesy rules. Truthfully, I say hi before I pass people because I tend to run in the early morning hours, and people tend to be badly startled when someone suddenly appears next to them in the dark - me included. Report
I agree with all of it. As for the greeting, I get a little bent, when I make eye contact and just a smile is great, but they ignore you as If I'm not there. It is all about courtesy to the next person. Pass it forward. Report
You are so right about everything!!!! Many times I have passed by others either running or walking and give a greeting hail, smile or nod and not have them returned, not yielding on the path is another I hate because I always give the courtesy but people in big groups that don't share irritate me. I am not a spitter and hate that people do. Thankfully I haven't been hit by spit but I don't want to walk in it either (just as bad as not picking up after a dog). Yuk!

Thanks for sharing. Report
I so agree! Report
I agree, when I started running 8 years ago I would run on trails early in the morning because by midday there would be tourist or other people on the trail and I hated breaking my stride to a slow stroll behind them, they would never move over so I could get past even when I let them know I was coming up behind them. I also agree you can tell runners and walkers from other people who are just strolling along, saying hello is just common courtesy. Report
Wish our university's track coach read--and taught--these. The track teams run in packs along the sidewalks at any hour of the day, blocking the entire sidewalk and ignoring everyone but each other. They hawk all over, and if they DO have to move into the muddy areas, are totally inconsiderate about ploughing mud up on people moving between classes. They constitute the single most arrogant group on our very varied campus. I used to root for track and field, but the last 6 years of dodging the competitors, now I hope they fall flat! not really, but ... Report
1. Okay, pedestrians don't rule the road, but I get so annoyed when I'm waiting at a crosswalk, where I DO legally have the right of way, and drivers don't let me pass.

2. Not usually an issue for me because I never run with groups, but when I see someone else spitting (or snot-rocket-ing) outside I always find it so gross.

3. Yeah, just stick the wrapper in your pocket.

4. I disagree - sometimes I'm working too hard to give a cheerful greeting to another runner. But if they say hello to me I smile back.

5. Oooh, big pet peeve for me! I can't stand it when a group of people is walking slowly and hogging the whole sidewalk, or when someone has their dog's leash spanning the width of the sidewalk, or when people try to stay on the left (I'm in America - traffic stays to the right!).

Heehee. Report
While I agree with the other 4 "rules", I wonder about #4. WHY is that one even on the list? Just like some people are grouchy first thing in the morning and I wouldn't expect them to respond to my cheery early morning self, I also tend not to get bent out of shape if someone doesn't say hello just because they see me (or even see me saying hello). This may be their "me time" or time for sorting out whatever is bugging them, or it may just be the only time in the entire day when they have a few minutes of quiet. Whatever the reason, it's *their* reason, and I don't worry about it. Report
Very good. Wish you had added about people cleaning up after their dogs. Report
I do try to follow the rules of the road when I see runners and bikers. I must say when I am out on the track walking, my headphones are blaring. I use walking as my time to lose myself and forget about the worries of the day. I do nod and or smile at walkers that past me. Most of the time they are so in to what they are doing they don't see me until they are almost tripping over me. Report
Our Spark Team likes to go for weekly walks in a group along some paths that cyclists frequent. Not all of those cyclists shout a warning to let you know they're coming up behind you and if they do sometimes it isn't all that loud. So, one of the things that I try to do when walking in a group like that when I hear or see a cyclist coming is to shout "Bike on the __________!!!" to warn the people up ahead that they're coming (this works with our group because there are people who walk at all kinds of different paces).

It helps keep all of us (including the cyclists) safer and more aware of what's going on around us. Report
Sometimes this is a problem when I have been walking. The path is shared in areas by walkers, joggers, bikers and mothers with babies. Many times the bikers don't say a work and swoosh they come flying by you. My friend gets mad because she is also a biker and always rings a bell really loud so not to scare people. I think being polite goes along way. I would never think of leaving trash along our path. Whats so hard about putting in your pack or pocket until you come to a trash can? The other thing I see is runners or walkers with dogs and they don't clean up after them. Yuck! Report
I like the rules. I just find it sad they needed to be written. Report
I think I naturally tend to follow number 4 when I'm doing a trail run or hike and may only pass a handful or less of other runners in a hour, but it just does not make sense on a congested city setting where I am passing several people every 5 seconds. Report
Well said! I agree with all of these, especially 4 and 5. Even when I do wear headphones, I at least wave to passing runners or walkers, and they always extend the same courtesy. It won't hurt to take (literally) a second out of your day to acknowledge someone else in passing.

And speaking of passing, some people think they own the sidewalk, and well that's just rude. Report
absolutely agree... and if walking /running with your dog, PLEASE keep your dog leashed! And when leashed, snugged into you, so the dog doesn't throw other people off the pathway! Report
tinlizzie2 - we must work at the same complex. My biggest peeve is when groups of 2/3 or more form a rolling roadblock on the sidewalk and refuse to let others pass from either direction and we have wide sidewalks. I've ended up in the street, the mud, etc. just to get past the groups who, usually, are strolling at a snail's pace. Report
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