Thursday, September 4, 2014

Rules of the road

Today's blog post was brought to you by a woman I named "unfriendly runner". You see, today I was out in the rain and humidity, doing my 2 mile repeats, when I came upon a woman running towards me on the path where I train. The path has a solid yellow line down the middle, to separate the cyclists from the pedestrians. This woman was running on the line. She wouldn't make eye contact with me, so I couldn't even greet her with a nod or a good morning. And she wouldn't move over.

This isn't the first time I've encountered this on the path, but it was the first time I've had a runner do this. There are a lot of walkers on the path and some of them walk on the yellow line. And they won't move out of the way, forcing anyone who is passing them to swerve into oncoming traffic or over to the other side of the path. I will say that the path isn't completely flat, it is graded in spots and the pavement is cracked as well. So the yellow line seems to be the flattest and smoothest portion. I've run the yellow line myself. But what's with ignoring everyone around you? I wanted to give the unfriendly runner an elbow. But it would have been so obvious! So tempting tho.

And is it just me, or isn't there an unwritten rule that runners acknowledge another runner's efforts? A friendly greeting, or if you are just dying out there, a nod. A wave. Someone commented to me that maybe the runner was in her "zone". Nope. Not buying it. She was running towards me. Not only that, but we passed each other multiple times on the circular path. She knew I was there. Jerk.

I also knew that I was not in the wrong here. I did a internet search of runner etiquette. RRCA says:
Don't be a road or trail hog.
That's what I'm talking about. Look at that. Right down the center line.
Don't run down the middle of the road or trail. 
Don't run more than 2 abreast on a trail. 
Alert pedestrians when you are passing them. 

The Guardian posted the 10 commandments of running etiquette. Including:

Thou shalt nod hello

Ok, so it is a written rule. These are simply common courtesies runners should observe while training. But this got me thinking about races too. What are some of the worst offenses runners do on race day?

My number one race day pet peeve is people who line up towards the front when their pace dictates they line up further back. Of course, this will be me on marathon day, since I got placed in a corral with people who run way faster than me. But I digress... What I really dislike is weaving around slower runners at the beginning of a race. The best example I can give of this is when I ran the Hot Chocolate 15K about 3-4 years ago. This race was full of newbies, who knew nothing about lining up for a race. There were walkers at the starting line ahead of the runners. People with strollers. No one paid attention to the pace markers. And for several miles, it was a disaster for those of us who came to run. Not to mention there was no chocolate left at the finish line. I learned a few things from that race, and number one is that I will never do a novelty race again. I think it's great that people are all coming out to run, but for me, it isn't fun to run when the participants aren't aware of race etiquette. Both RRCA and CARA state:
Line up according to your planned pace. Just because you arrived early doesn't mean you get to line up at the front.
The Guardian says it best:
Be realistic. 

What else? Here's a few more things to consider:

Have you ever been running a race and someone stops in front of you, suddenly? And you almost smash into them? Another no-no. Run over to the side if you need to stop. Just so you know, I'll be running on the side with my fast corral group....

Don't be throwing gel packs and snot rockets back at the people behind you. Watch where you're dropping your discards. I've been hit with discarded gel packets at a race. Yuck. And yes, people do slip on banana peels, so those need to go somewhere safe too. I met a woman who slipped on a banana peel at mile 23 of the Chicago marathon one year. Yes, she fell. And yes, she dislocated her hip and messed up her knee. The best part of the story? She popped her hip back in and finished the race. BUT, if there hadn't been a banana peel on the ground, the whole thing could have been avoided.

Stop talking during the national anthem. Please! When we were lined up to run the Florida Halfathon last March, people continued to talk during the national anthem. Another runner told them to "STFU" and then a fight broke out. I've never been at a race when a fight broke out. It was a little unnerving! Anyways. Just hush. Be respectful.

Say thank you to the volunteers! I know this sounds so basic but think about it. They are sacrificing their free time to provide you with drinks, directions, what have you--to make your race experience a good one. They also smile when you thank them, which puts a smile on my face and makes my feet feel a little lighter for a while. Actually, along these lines, acknowledge the spectators too! Take those high fives from the little kids along the route. Just be careful so you don't plow them down.

And don't forget to touch for a power boost!
Don't hoard the post-race refreshments. I've seen runners leave races with arms full of snacks. Take only what you can eat and save the rest so that everyone gets a snack. I've heard stories about the back of the packers getting to the food tent and everything is pretty well picked over. That sucks.

Did I forget anything? What's your biggest running and/or racing pet peeves? Are you guilty of anything I mentioned above?

Well, and there is this....
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  1. Ugh I get so irritated when people don't share the path when it's built for runners, walkers, and bikers alike. A pet peeve of mine is when bikers don't warn you they are coming up 'on your left' until they are ON TOP OF YOU.
    Our running trails have 90% happy runners, but the other 10% are the grumpy brood who must hate running, but force themselves to go anyway...

    And slow runners/walkers hogging the route on race day irks me to no end. I am NOT fast by any mean, but I stay to the right, get off the course when I need to stop and try to be respectful always.

    GREAT post.

    1. Thanks Michelle! Same here--I'm not fast, always been a middle of the packer, but I hate weaving in and out of people the first mile or so. It really makes it hard to find my pace. And that when I'm already struggling with my race nerves!

  2. I'll admit - I didn't even think about the pacing thing when lining up for my first legit race. I was excited to be there and popped right up front - but never again!

    SERIOUSLY on the "thank the volunteers" thing! Even if you're exhausted, mustering up that little bit of energy to smile and say thank you will actually give you more energy with which to run! Even if they don't smile back (they might be just as tired as you), they'll appreciate it and you'll have the satisfaction of Good Person-hood which for me always puts a bounce in my step!

    1. Isn't amazing how much better you feel with a smile on your face?

  3. I can so relate to all of this, thank you for putting this on your blog. At a 5K I ran back in April they had the runners and walkers begin at the same time. It was annoying to have to weave thru the strollers,etc. And then at the end of the race some lady stops in front of me right before the finish line! Hello, who does that? I almost knocked her butt over because I was booking it in. I ended up having to side step her and go around. My hubby has pictures of

    1. It's just so frustrating! I hope you were able to pull out a good finish!

  4. Some people just don't get it but for the most part I think we are a pretty supportive group! There was a woman in my neighborhood who I would see 3x a week for years and she would not acknowledge me at all. So annoying!

  5. I hate it when people don't leash their dog. They may be the most lovable dogs but I personally wouldn't know that. Thank you for this very informative post. I was just about to write about a similar topic, more on appreciation for anyone who acknowledges runners anywhere. Just last Sunday, a stranger who was walking gave me a thumbs up, A small act that kept me running longer.

    1. I didn't write about the dog thing but that is more a dog owner rule than a runner rule! Definitely a pet peeve of mine tho!

  6. I tried to comment from my phone yesterday but I see that did not work. Ha! So weird of her not to move or make eye contact. I mean really. Runners are usually so friendly. Usually I take the mis-lineup in stride at races cuz it happens SO much. The one time I was really ticked about rudeness/cluelessness was at a half marathon where I was gunning for a PR in the final miles. They'd put the walkers out earlier but toward the end there were still some on the path, walking 3 across, and they would not move. I feel like they were indicating they had every right to be there, but 3 across and not moving over is never cool. Never.

    1. I thought she acted oddly, which is why I wrote about it. But I do encounter these people--more men than women--and I just don't get it. Running is hard! Let's all encourage each other.

  7. The worst race etiquette I ever encountered was while running the Broad Street Run in Philly, which is an extremely crowded race. 30,000 runners. Crazy. For some reason at water stops some people (always men) feel the need to run right back into their "spot" after they stop for water. So they would swerve in front of people to get back to the middle of the road, almost tripping us. The same thing happened at the finish line. Some guy ran ahead and cut right in front of me and I almost fell right before the finish. People are so strange! Why do this?

  8. Yes, to all of the above! I've seen it and I don't like it! And the post-race snacks/treats? OMG! I'd forgotten about that little trick - good grief! I have totally seen people with a bag like this person in the picture you've posted - get a life! It's not an all-you-can-eat take-out situation, right?!? Sheesh...don't get me started, Wendy. :) HA! Love this post; thanks for sharing.

  9. Haha, I love this. I have been putting together a list similar to this in my head everytime I go out for a run. My running partner ALWAYS runs in the center of the trail and it drives me nuts! I've told her she should move over, but nope....all the while I hug the tree line to make sure ALL the people an pass me :)