A Guide to Running Etiquette

running etiquette, etiquette, distance running

Pace & Mind Guide to Running Etiquette by Kim Bergeron

Our team writer Kim Bergeron really pokes the ‘beehive’ by asking Pace & Mind runners what irritates them when it comes to running etiquette both on and off the road. Here’s what they had to say, including their recommendations to preserve etiquette while running…


Say hello, don’t be a snob. 

If you see someone running towards you, enjoy a fleeting moment of shared humanity and nod hello, say “good morning” or wave if they have headphones. Acknowledge each other’s woe! You most likely run into them (pun intended) during another training session. Why not share the love? What’s the harm?

“If I hear ‘run Forest run’ one more time, I’m going to go postal on someone.” – Nathan

Watch those body fluids

It’s not big. It’s not clever. But sometimes when you’re out for a run, you do need to clear your nose. Freeing your phlegm, also known as snot rocket should be done mindfully and discreetly and at as little frequency as possible. Maybe you can ask yourself one simple question: “Will anyone see me do this?” If the answer is yes, ideally wait until you’re out of sight. Or if that’s really not an option, just look embarrassed to do it and pretend you have a cold. Same goes for spitting, be aware of your surrounding.

“If you need to spit, a shoulder check is required. Better yet, move to the side and be sure to check wind direction.” – Ryan

Share the road

Running two or three side by side on a busy path is the equivalent of sitting in the middle lane on a motorway. While going out for a run with friends can be a great way to catch up, remember that you don’t own the road. You’ll end up irritating people and get sworn at putting a damper on an otherwise pleasant run. If you see or hear a runner coming please share the sidewalk.

“This is not Sex and the City, 4 people don’t get to line up side by side blocking the shoe sidewalk forcing me to jump into the bike lane to get around” – Monique

Unsolicited encouragements

Never assume that someone running slower is necessarily new to running, in pain or needs encouragement. They might be a marathoner on a long run and will out run you during the race.

“People who run past me while I’m doing an easy run and tell me that I can do it in a condescending way and tell me to pick up the pace. So irritating! Happens at least once a month.” – Leah

Respect the environment

When you take a gel, don’t throw away the wrapper on the side of the road. That’s literring! Put it back in your pocket/belt or wait until you are close to a trash can to take it. The only time you should be allowed to throw it on the road is during a race when people will actually clean up after you. You’re not a star on all of your runs unfortunately and will have to pick up after yourself!


Start line

We’ve all seen or made the mistake of lining at the front only to get passed and shunned out of the way by hundreds of angry runners. It takes extra energy to pass a runner during a race, and that’s not where we want to be spending it!Be realist and modest and start with your pace group.

“Start in the right corral!!! Not your dream coral.” – Kristen

Be mindful of your surrounding

Use your peripheral vision to be aware of other runners around you during a race, if you need to cut to the inside or outside of a lane/street see that you are not cutting someone off while you are doing so. You should  also try to point to the direction where you are heading when passing someone. Politely stating ‘on your right’ or ‘on your left’ is using proper etiquette. Remember, not everyone walking (or running) in front of you knows you are coming. It’s a common courtesy to let them know, especially late in the evening when it can be a real scare to have a runner blast by you.

At the water stations

It is true that you should stay hydrated throughout the race, but you cannot assume that all runners will stop at every water station. Leave the middle line for the runners that keep going. Grab your water/Gatorade from the volunteers then continue forward away from the table. Stay on the side of the road f you are going to stop/walk and drink and don’t toss our cup over your shoulder.

Get out of the way!

As people who are ready to go through the physical and mental agony or training for a race we can get a little competitive when it comes to racing. But that’s no reason for not letting a faster runner pass you. Move to the side if someone behind you says “excuse me” or “on your right/left”. That person is giving you a heads up before passing. It’s proper race etiquette to le that person pass you without blocking their efforts.

“Guys who don’t want to let a girl pass them. Immediately gets labeled slow douche bag.” – Hélène 


If you’re going to take a walk break move all the way to the side don’t stop dead in the middle of the races. Sounds simple enough, but still happens too much! You don’t want you or a runner to get injured because they bumped into you!

“Put your hand up when stopping in a race! Give everyone around you some warning.” – Shawn

Say thank you

At every race volunteers get up before dawn on Sunday mornings to stand for hours on rainy street corners and stop you from getting lost or hand you some much needed fluid/nutrition. They will even add some words of encouragement at no additional cost! Be thankful for their helping making the event possible. Cheesy? Not really.

“I think we should also appreciate the volunteers that are taking their day out to make our race better. Appreciate and thank them.” Saheed


Running equality 

We all love running equally. So why not show the same amount of support any runner men or women. That goes for how you treat others that run with you. Show a little respect when complimenting or commenting on your peers performance. Be very mindful of the language you use, words have tremendous power to help or hurt someone.

“Can we talk about verbal etiquette? Calling me “fast for a girl” is not a compliment.” – Elysa 


When runners share personal race commitments/goals and then the next thing you know the whole social universe knows that can add a lot of unnecessary pressure for them. Respecting privacy/confidentiality is extremely important. Some like to share, some don’t. If the information is shared in a group setting it’s ok, or public declaration (e.g.: I will BQ by etc), that’s ok, but when it’s shared 1:1 then it should be considered private.

Don’t blame the Coach

Coaches seem to become a lighting rod if a race doesn’t go as planned. No matter how experienced and knowledgeable your Coach is, he/she may not always have the magic formula and may still be getting to know you as a runner. It is all about open communication. Make sure you are constantly and consistently updating your coach with physical and mental challenges as they arise. Keeping them informed of past injuries and set realistic race goals with them.

Respect for your fellow Runner

One runner’s version of etiquette may be different than yours. Respecting their opinions as people first is critically important regardless of what brand they wear, gender, socio-economic status, past history or importantly, there pace. If you have an issue with fellow runner or running crew etc.,  you should speak directly with them in person. Text, email and social media make it to easy to say things we would not say in person. Last, teams cannot possibly support every race on the race calendar. If you feel your race should be supported, make sure you let your respective team organizers/community folks know about it well in advance.

“I’ve learned to give, but not expect anything in return. I love the diversity of running with an awesome team and try everything to support them, including community initiatives which support great causes and not line the pockets of companies.” -Nathan

About Pace & Mind

Pace & Mind is an advanced coaching service for distance runners. We offer advanced and highly customized 5k, 10k, half-marathon and marathon coaching for runners to improve their performance both on and off the road. Our coaching is based on the principles founded by Head Coach and Co-founder Rejean Chiasson, a Canadian marathon champion, 4x half-marathon medalist and NIKE+ NRC Coach. He is supported by our Online Run Coach, Kate Van Buskirk, an internationally accomplished track and field athlete, bronze medalist at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and Brooks Elite Ambassador. Unlike traditional ‘cookie-cutter’ or ‘clinic’ approaches to coaching, our Coaches first assesses, then customizes each runner’s training program based on:


Coaching programs are powered by TrainingPeaks software to ensure data accuracy. No runner’s program is the same and it constantly changes season by season, cycle by cycle. Our Coaches review your plan in detail each week, then adjust based on your progression and listens to you in terms of changes in nutrition, mental state and cross training efforts. Each runner also receives a cross-training plan and a racing singlet as part of the program.

You have one life to live. Run for your life


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