I’ve been a runner for almost seven years now. I was about to turn 40 and decided I needed to get up off my ass and do…something. I also wanted to justify a trip to Walt Disney World. So registering for the 2011 Walt Disney World Princess Half Marathon seemed the perfect thing to do. When I started training, as Pocahontas said, I learned things that I never knew I never knew. There is such a thing as running etiquette. In seven years, I’ve seen plenty of people who either don’t know it or don’t care.
Overall, the running community is amazingly accepting. I’ve met people of all shapes, sizes, ages and health levels out on the road, just trying to accomplish some goals. It’s hard to do that, though, when you encounter people with habits that infringe on the rights of other runners. I took a poll, and here are some of the running etiquette no-nos that upset people the most!
Unless you are in a smaller race where the runners have a chance to spread out, chances are you have people not far behind you. Not only is it rude to just stop short on course, it’s dangerous! If you need to stop for any reason, give a backwards glance and start making your way over to the side of the course. Otherwise, you are just asking for someone to run into you. Either or both of you could get hurt.
- Check Your Selfie
Y’all, I love a good selfie opportunity. But the race course is not YOUR red carpet. I almost lost my crap at the start of the Walt Disney World Marathon one year. Yes, we had just crossed the START line and a couple right in front of us stopped with no warning and proceeded to take a selfie with the start banner in the background. When I remarked that it was dangerous to do that, one of the pair wagged his finger in my face and told me, “You are not allowed to steal my joy!” At that point, his joy was the least of what I was considering getting my hands on.
Ditto for the finish line. If you have to personally capture that finish line moment, move it on over. You just accomplished one of your goals and you are so proud. You should be! But there are a bunch of other people behind you doing the same damn thing and would like you to get out of their way.
- Run, Raise and Walk
I enthusiastically practice the run/ walk method. The accepted running etiquette is to raise your hand when you are about to start walking and move over to the side to do so. Don’t skip that second step, y’all. Just raising your arm is not enough, you have to get out of the way before you slow down that much. I know – on some crowded courses this is a lot easier said than done. But the best you can do in those cases is just give it your best shot.
- Reconsider the Jump
While we’re mentioning runDisney races, let’s talk about that photo opp coming out of the castle. In case you were considering getting that classic jumping shot here, let me help you with that decision. DON’T. There is a reason why runDisney offers you a perfect photo op a little further, right in front of that castle, where it really can be all about you. The photographer will even give you a countdown to help. The castle corridor is tight, and if you decide to jump the second you see a camera, you’re going to clog traffic further and risk someone running into you.
Hogging The Cameras
Subtitle: Don’t throw away someone else’s shot.
- Still Thinking About Jumping?
Seriously, I think jumping pictures are fun and silly and cool. For some people, that’s their “thing”. That’s fine – as long as you don’t block someone else from getting their picture taken as well. If you are in a crowd and decide to jump in front of a photographer, you effectively block others from being photographed. If there isn’t a crowd and you are sure you would be the only one in the shot anyway, jump like a pogo stick.
- Find Your Dinosaur Arms
Y’all, for real. All my running friends now know to put your damn arms down when you run with me. I have had friends totally block my face several times when they throw their hands in the air as soon as they see a camera. It’s our joke to call out “T-Rex arms!” when someone does that.
Even if you are not running “with” the people near you, don’t block them like that. They want pictures, too, and without your arms blocking out their faces.
Hitting Other Runners With…
- Snot Rockets
Oh, my gosh. If anyone ever did this to me I would return the favor and vomit on them. I can’t even write anymore about this because it skeeves me out too badly.
- Water / Sports Drink
I know it’s hard to believe that I should even have to say this, but if you are throwing away a cup that still has a beverage in it, don’t throw it directly in front of someone. Don’t throw it to the ground when the contents could splash up on the person behind you. Don’t be in too big of a hurry to be a decent human being.
- Gel Packets
These are not as big of a deal when they hit other runners, although it’s not nice having trash thrown at you. These used up packets, though, belong with the cups in the trash bins or at least trash piles on the curb. They can be slippery and get funk all over other runners’ shoes.
- Your Taste in Music
I know. There are races that ban headphones. I’m here to tell you, though, that I have never once in 7 years seen any race enforce that ban. Use your headphones. Don’t blare your music and your run/walk interval beeps to everyone around you.
Taking More Post-Race Food Than You Need
This is a serious, serious pet peeve. I’m alarmed at how frequently I’m seeing runners grabbing the post race snacks like they are shopping for their kid’s lunches for the month. It’s a simple concept, y’all. Just take what you need. A big Mom-phrase of mine is, “Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD.” There aren’t people stopping you from loading up because we’re adults who should know NOT to take more than your share. This isn’t just running etiquette; this is life etiquette.
Runners are part of a larger community. A community works best when everyone plays nice and looks out for one another. Remember these tips at your next race and you’ll be a total winner, regardless of the race results.