Running is simple. You don't need a room full of pricey equipment or to phone in advance for a tee time. Running doesn't even require much skill-nothing could be easier. Naturally, there are tons of rules, says Runner's World online editor Mark Remy, author of "The Runner's Rule Book." Not for the act of running itself, but about the code, largely unspoken, that governs behavior. Here's a rundown of running etiquette.
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1. Run against traffic.
Runners should travel on the left side of the road, facing traffic, so you can see and be seen by oncoming vehicles. That is, except when you're approaching a blind curve. If you can't see around a curve, neither can a driver coming the other way. About 300 feet before the curve, cross to the right side of the road. When the road straightens (and traffic permits), return to the left side.
2. …But run on the right in parks and on paths.
On routes closed to cars, standard practice is to stay to the right-unless, of course, park signage indicates otherwise.
3. Don't run more than two across.
It's great that you and your running buddies like to run side by side so you can chat and laugh, but it's not Ok to take up the entire width of the path or trail. When people, cyclists or cars approach, proceed to single file.
4. You're only as fast as your slowest running partner.
Be courteous when running with others who are slower than you-especially if you're running together at their invitation. To avoid subconsciously pushing the pace, make a point to remain half a step or more behind whoever is running at the front.
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5. Leave the iPod at home for a group run.
Listening to music is a great energy boost, but if you're joining others to run, it's rude to wear headphones. Plain and simple.
6. Acknowledge fellow runners.
This one is up for debate, but some runners feel snubbed when others don't make a gesture of recognition. Brief eye contact and a quick nod or smile will do the trick.
7. Stand still at red lights.
Sharks die when they stop moving. Runners do not. Keep this in mind next time you encounter a don't walk sign at a busy intersection. There's no need to jog in place or dance from foot to foot like you have to pee. Stop your watch and just chill.
8. Warn before passing someone.
The idea is for you to give the other person's brain enough time to process the warning before the actual passing occurs. The warning can take a number of forms, like a cough or a verbal heads-up like "Excuse me!" or "Passing on your left!"
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9. Farts happen.
Runners ingest a fair amount of healthy foods, which produce gas in the GI tract, where it cannot stay forever. Passing gas while running is excusable and inevitable. If a runner has clearly taken pains to mask flatulence, the polite thing is to pretend nothing happened.
10. Run on the inner lanes, walk in the outer ones.
Rules exist on running tracks to make behavior predictable and safe. The most universal rule: Faster runners stick to the inside lanes while walkers and runners doing recovery jogs should occupy the outer ones.
Have you encountered other unspoken rules of running?
Susan Rinkunas is an associate editor at Runner's World, a magazine (and website) that informs, advises, and motivates runners of all ages and abilities-and we mean it. Her blog on Yahoo! Shine offers tips on running technique, nutrition and weight loss, shoes and apparel, and balancing fitness and life.
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