Runners should follow a basic set of rules or etiquette every time they run. This is true whether it’s at the beach, road, trail, or track, in order to keep such places safe and enjoyable for everyone, including for the non-runners present. The following tips may seem like common courtesy to some, but they are fundamentals that bear repeating and keeping in mind. It all boils down to extending the local roadways, forests, wildlife, and fellow humans the same respect you would like to receive.
Always run against traffic. Running on the left side of the road enables runners to see vehicles approaching. This one is most important – unsafe road positioning can obviously lead to injury or even loss of life. Should excessive traffic be present, it is safest to run on the sidewalk and not the road.
Obey all traffic signs. Always use crosswalks and look both ways before crossing the road. When at an intersection, try to make eye contact with drivers to communicate your intentions and make sure they are aware of you. If a driver allows you to cross first, thank them with a friendly smile or wave.
Share the road. Etiquette dictates that cyclists ride with the flow of traffic, so runners should be facing them head-on as they pass. When a cyclist is approaching, move as far left on the road as possible. Consider running on the grass to let them pass if there’s not enough room on the road shoulder. When running with a group, be considerate of other individuals and groups using the road or path and never run more than 2 abreast.
Pass other runners on the left. Call out “On your left” before you pass another runner. This alerts the runner ahead of your presence and it is polite to do so.
Consider running without headphones. It is strongly advised to run without music of any kind, especially in the forest. The idea is to run to the sounds of nature. If you must run with music playing, try running with one headphone in and keep the volume low to enable you to hear your surroundings including approaching vehicles or cyclists. Again, however, it is strongly recommended to skip the music in the wild.
No littering! Leave nothing behind including water bottles or food wrappers. Make sure that you can carry your trash with you until you can find a public trash receptacle.
Respect trail closures. Trails can be closed for various reasons including, but not limited to, storm damage, wildlife management, controlled burns, trail maintenance, and construction. After Hurricane Florence, some sections of the Neusiok Trail were badly damaged and closed for several months. The most northern section, known as Pine Cliff, was closed considerably longer. Typically, signage includes the date of reopening. If your favorite trail is closed, consider reaching out to the governing organization to see if you can volunteer to help with trail repair.
Be visible. Wear brightly colored clothing, or reflective clothing if you have it, when running early in the morning, at dusk, or in the dark. To further ensure you are seen by approaching vehicles, it is recommended that you wear a light on your belt or a headlamp.
To sum it up, be respectful and considerate towards the environment and everyone on the road or trail whether they are running alongside you or driving a car. We all want to enjoy nature and running without ruining things for others.
Jessica Diaz is an ultra runner, loving wife & mother, owner of a Siberian Husky, RRCA Running Coach & Race Director, as well as Digital Manager at The GYM Cape Carteret Aquatic & Wellness and CEO of Diaz Media Marketing.