If you've ever had a cup of Gatorade thrown on you during an endurance race or were involved in a 10 runner pile up, you know why running etiquette is extremely important. One of the reasons running is so great is because it's highly accessible and just about anyone can do it. But with so many people picking up and becoming runners, it's hard to make sure all the new runner's know the rules of the road.
If you're a newer runner and you find yourself saying, "Running Rules? I didn't know there were running rules!" Then this is for you, here is my version of the unenforced running commandments made by runners for runners:
1. Thou shalt always look over both shoulders to see if anyone is behind you before unleashing a snot rocket.
Snot rockets and runners go together like Justin Timberlake and true love. Just make sure the coast is clear before letting it fly.
2. Thou shall always look over both shoulders and use hand signals before changing directions.
ALWAYS use your hand signals. Moving off to the shoulder? Look over your shoulder and use your hand signal. Feeling like you're going to pass out? PUT both hands up and make a, "I'm about to stop" hand gesture if you can't get over. USE YOUR HANDS!
3. Thou shall never use your shoulders as weapons.
Passive aggressive tactics are to be left at home. No seriously, if you shoulder check me you best believe I am going to use my mouth to explain why you are a bad person. DON'T SHOULDER CHECK PEOPLE! USE YOUR WORDS!
4. Thou shall always exercise patience and caution at hydration stops.
Never stop cold turkey! Gesture that you are getting over, check to make sure the coast is clear, grab a cup, get out of the way and look around before stopping or walking. Only you can prevent race day collisions. ALSO- NEVER throw your cup out before looking to see if the coast is clear. There should be a rule that you have to give someone $5 if you throw your cup of sports drink or water on someone running by you.
5. Thou shall always throw cups, energy gel packets, trash into a trash can/bag.
Unless you are setting a world record you have no excuse not to hold onto your trash until you can find a trash can. The people who work races are almost always volunteers, don't make them pick up your trash. Just because everyone else is throwing their cups on the ground DOES NOT give you permission to do the same. Raise above, take the 2-10 seconds to place your trash into a trash can. Don't be a litter bug!
6. Thou shall always line up in your corral according to your pace.
Want to go slower? Perfect, move back. No one cares how fast you intend to go, but if you are planning on running 9 minute miles and you line up with 7 or 8 minute milers, you are putting everyone in a dangerous situation. MOVE BACK, MOVE BACK, MOVE BACK. Want to line up with your friends? Cool! Everyone go to whoever was assigned the slowest corral. That's how that works.
7. Thou shall always try to wear bright reflective colors.
Black is slimming and foxy on everyone, I know. But cars aren't looking for you, I know they are supposed to but they don't. It's your job to stay visible, seen and safe. ALWAYS assume someone doesn't see that you are there. MAKE EYE CONTACT before going into the street whenever possible.
8. Thou shall always stay hydrated and fueled.
Are you too cool to stop for water/sports drink during a race? Well that's how people get hurt. It is your job to stay hydrated. Be smart people.
9. Thou shall always exercise gratitude and patience.
Always say thank you to volunteers. This is a no brain-er.
10. Thou shall be CPR certified.
It takes a few hours to get CPR certified and if you find yourself racing often, it's a really important thing to know. You never know when an emergency situation is going to arise or if someone is going to need immediate attention. Chances are, you'll never need to give CPR to someone but it's one of those skills you will never regret learning.
11. Thou shalt always keep the best interests of other runners at heart.
Running in the park and notice someone looking a little wobbly? Ask if they're OK and then keep your eye on them. Everyone is bound to have an experience where something goes wrong. Look out for each other. Always look out for other runners. It takes two seconds to ask if someone is OK.
12. Thou shall always try to smile and give high fives whenever possible.
In the suburbs, it's assumed you will wave or say hi to each other. In urban areas, you ignore each other. But if someone acknowledges you, smile back. Give high fives. Keep the community a community. And God help you if you ignore power up signs on race day or small children giving out high fives. (If you take yourself super seriously or if you hate high fives, by all means don't worry about it. But if you're in it for fun, high fives are like magic.)
What are your running commandments? Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.