From my years of trail running and street running-- which I do realize are few compared to many of you-- I have gathered many hints of etiquette and unwritten rules that, well, many people don't follow. They're universal enough that most of us have learned to follow them, but I feel that it's my duty to inform the rest of you. As you will see, most of these are things that I have direct experience with you. So while this is partly to inform you, it's also to tell some funny stories where I made a fool of myself.
Passing Other Runners- Depending on the runner, this might not be taken to very well. But you have to go your own pace and do what your fitness calls for. That being said, don't be that runner that sprints past a fellow harrier just to slow back down to a snail's pace. It's pretty shallow, and doesn't gain you much respect with others! Trust me because I've been there. Just last week, I was supposed to be doing an easy recovery run. Well, another female runner and I turned onto the same path and seemed to be going the same pace. Having someone on my tail makes me edgy though, so I sprinted ahead of her. She had soon picked up her pace and I was running a pace that was 30 seconds faster than I should, just so she wouldn't pass me. Honestly, I think she was just doing a good hard run, but I couldn't let another woman be faster than me, even if I wasn't supposed to go fast. Oh pride...
Passing Walkers- Passing walkers is a bit different. They would be quite confused if you flashed a thumbs up as you zipped by. In fact, many get extremely alarmed. To stereotype, I've noticed that dog walkers especially seem to be in their own little world most of the time. I have a dog, but I'm not sure even I understand the phenomenon. For those who are lost in the world of dog walking, I recommend "the cough." As my running friend and I were discussing the other day, the cough must be skillfully executed. Once you are five or ten meters behind a dog walker, or just any walker, let out a loud cough. They will immediately turn around, giving you the chance to raise your hand from where your elbow is covering your mouth (always use your elbow people!) and give a slight wave of appreciation. Just so they don't get suspicious, give another cough after you've passed. Although the typical "on your left" works sometimes, I've learned from experience that it often erases all knowledge of left vs. right on the walker's part. Weird, huh...they kind of just swerve back and forth like a delusional cyclist. The cough is a little more obnoxious, but is proven to be more successful for me.
Crossing Streets- I'll be brief on this one, because I know that some safety-oriented reader might call me on the stupidity of this tip. But here's the low down: If there aren't any cars coming, just go! From a running stand point, I would argue that it's a little wimpy to run in place instead of crossing an empty street just because a little orange hand said not to. Just go! You can stop some other time, but you aren't running in order to catch some scenery at a red light.
Share the Path- As a cross country runner, I know my sport is guilty of ruining the mornings of many park walkers. These cute elderly walkers and sweet groups of friends got up early to enjoy nature, but the typical cross country runner wrecks havoc on that serene ideal. We run four across, talk really loud, and dart in between walkers. When I was on vacation a few weeks back, I felt the need to loudly announce to my dad that I had only nine minutes left in my 90 minute run. "I'm almost done," I yelled with joy. He put his fingers to his lips and motioned towards other side of the path. Oops! There was a group of cyclists who had dismounted with fancy cameras and were trying to get pictures of some rare birds...some of which I prompted to flight. My bad!
Look Out For Other Runners- Earlier this summer, I was running on the side of the road when the cloudy sky opened up and proceeded to soak every inch of my body. Seriously, I have NEVER seen such a torrential downpour. Since I couldn't keep my eyes open to watch where the road was curving, I decided to seek shelter in some trees by the side of the road-- so as to not get hit by a car. I waited for a good five or ten minutes before the rain had let up enough that I could see. Here's the thing though: during that time, at least 15 cars drove past me. Did none of them question why a young girl was soaking wet and huddled under a measly twig by the side of the road? Isn't is probable that at least one of them was also a runner? I'm not sure what I would've done if someone had stopped. I told my friend that I would've hitched a ride home and done another run later that was of better quality. She quickly forbid it though, saying it is too dangerous. Regardless of what I wanted or would have done though, nobody even slowed down! If I am ever driving down the road and see a young girl soaking wet, I would at least ask if she was ok. As a community, we need to watch out for each other. I love it that some of my friends run with me on a weekly basis. The buddy system is very effective.
So now you know a little more about how naive and stupid I can be. I hope to spare you from some of the same mistakes :)