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Etiquette when running past/toward someone on a run

I’m going to have you imagine a couple of running scenarios so you can see why it would be nice to improve your running etiquette.

Scenario 1:

You set off for your run at 5pm, it goes dark at 5.30pm and you need to run for an hour to get home and the route you have takes in some woodland areas without street lighting. You’re sprinting through the woodland trying to get back, it’s dark. Would you rather:

A: Have someone storm past you without a word.
B: Be constantly checking behind you for people coming past.
C: Have someone cough loudly from behind and shout a word of encouragement as they come past.

I’m guessing most of you would pick C. Some of you may not be passing people on runs but I bet you pass people walking, in the scenario above I bet you can imagine that cough and a “Hello” “Good evening” would be very welcome. Even on a sunny daytime run you should be getting in the habit of improving your running etiquette. It’s not showing off, it’s not being rude, by not surprising people it is being polite.

Scenario 2:

You’re out for a 8 mile run at 1pm on a sunny Saturday afternoon. You’re in full flow and keeping on your target pace for your run. You see someone approaching moving a little slower than you are but still working just as hard as you relatively. Do you:

A: Keep your head down/focused on your next steps and ignore the person running toward you.
B: Check your watch just as you run past so you don’t have to acknowledge them.
C: Nod your head/smile/raise your hand at them.

I live in London and I run around all of the cities major parks where we have events and the ones we don’t. One thing I notice is that 1 in 5 people would do C. And 4 out of 5 people would do A & B. I am from Lancashire (Up’t North somewhere) and if you see a runner, you say hello. Nearly always. Tube etiquette does not need to apply to running.

I’m not saying you have to be a lunatic nodding dog, I know how many people you see running around Clapham Common on a Monday night or on a Sunday at Richmond Park, you don’t have to do it to everyone. But if you can make it 4 out of 5 times rather than 1 out of 5 you’d make a lot of runners happy and I’d hope that alone would make you a little happier too.

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About Matt Wood

Matt Wood
Ex-England International track athlete over 1500m, Sports Science graduate from Loughborough University and race manager at RunThrough events.

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