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July 12, 2017

Running etiquette: How to interact with pedestrians without being a jerk

Despite what you and your teammates probably think, the world does not care about your run.

Drivers only stop to cede the right of way to avoid murdering you, because facing manslaughter charges sucks. Cyclists avoid crashing into you when you’re jogging in the bike lane because it hurts to be flung from a bike at high speeds. Walkers similarly step aside to let you pass to avoid being trampled. None of these people are doing so out of admiration for the nobility of your quest.

But nonetheless, all of these people accommodate you day-in an day-out. Runners have it relatively easy, in that somehow, all other forms of exercisers and commuters find themselves waving us on, whether we morally deserve it or not.

You’ve been the recipient of great karmatic fortune your entire running life. So why not pay it forward by not ruining somebody’s day as you pass them on the trail or track or sidewalk? There will be exceptions to these rules, as life is full of nuance, but generally speaking, just remember that while your run matters to you, it’s not cause to behave like an asshole in public.


The scenario:

You are approaching a walker on a narrow trail. The walker is wearing headphones, and there is no room for you to pass.

Do:

Slow to a jog or walk and loudly but politely announce your impending presence with a “excuse me” or “sorry, coming through.” If this fails, lightly tap the walkers shoulder and when they turn, repeat yourself with a smile.

Don’t:

Attempt to pull a Vince Carter at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where he dunked on 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis by leaping clear over him. As someone who runs long distances, you undoubtedly lack the explosiveness and this is a very disrespectful move to attempt.


The scenario:

You are running a workout at a crowded public track, and there are two elderly men walking two-abreast in lanes one and two.

Do:

Allow them to remain where they are. Run your workout in lane one, and when the time comes to pass the duo, swing wide into lane three, giving the old-timers a wide berth. Know that your rep will be a half second slower than it would be otherwise, and move on with your life. The difference between running a 71-second 408m repeat versus a 70-second 400m repeat truly doesn’t matter.

Don’t:

Yell “NERD” as you bodycheck an octogenarian into the turf, then do the “you can’t see me” John Cena hand thing as you continue your repeat in short shorts.


The scenario:

You are enjoying some good old fashioned city running, and have been cruising along the sidewalk when you suddenly encounter a bit of pedestrian traffic nearing a major intersection.

Do:

Check the street or bike lane to make sure no vehicles will strike you, then hop down off the curb and run a few steps off the sidewalk. Once you are clear of the throngs of people, return to the sidewalk where you can probably also admire your form in some reflective windows.

Don’t:

Attempt to blast your way through the wall of humanity.


The scenario:

You are running in a city park, and are approaching a large field, crowded with picnickers on a the first warm day of spring, and are determining whether to traipse through everyone’s good time and step rudely over somebody’s meal, or to skirt around the perimeter of the meadow.

Do:

The latter.

Don’t:

Do the former.


Now go forth and return the precious gifts of the movement universe to other people who have for years taken on the chin your self-importance and the grotesque sweat flying off your body as you routinely took for granted their kindness!

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