I realize that most anyone who reads this will not be the intended audience. I’m writing it anyway.
There are accepted practices and etiquette on tracks. It doesn’t matter if it is your local dirt track at a middle school, community, high school or college track.
Here they are:
1. If you are alone on the track it really doesn’t matter which direction you run or what lane you are in. Go for it.
In the presence of others the following applies.
2. Run counter clockwise. If you decide to run clockwise, run on the outer most lanes. Stay out of the way of runners who are working out and running in the accepted direction.
3. Stay alert and don’t use ear phones. Look both ways before entering onto a track. Even the most sesasoned tracksters have been caught by surprise.
4. Bicycles, scooters, roller blades, etc. are not allowed on tracks. For the most part animals are restricted from tracks. Even if they aren’t, it is wise not to allow them for safety reasons. If you do bring a pet, be sure it is secured away from the running surface and of course clean up after it. Tracks are designed for humans to run and walk on. Just try dodging a straying dog while running full tilt! The fact is that even leashes aren’t secure enough nor short enough. Just last week there was a dog fight between 3 dogs at a local track I was working out at. The pet owners stood there yelling and blaming each other! While those working out had to avoid the mess!
5. The faster the runner, the more inside the lane reserved for him or her. Tracks with lanes are numbered from inside (nearest the infield) to the outside (usually near stands). Most commonly they are from 1-8 or 1-9. Lanes 1 & 2 are reserved for the fastest runners on the track at the time. Lanes 3-5 are for the next faster runners with the slower joggers. Walking is reserved for the outside most lanes.
6. It’s ok for slower runners to run further inside but be alert to move when faster runners approach from behind. It is far more dangerous for a fast runner to change lanes and pass.
7. If you are the faster runner and you are approaching from behind, give ample notice and call-out (just like with cycling). The traditional phrase to use it “track”. Which means move over someone faster is coming through. You can alternatively use “on your left” or “on the inside” to indicate you are coming by on the inside. Do not go whizzing by an inch from someone’s shoulder as if to non-verbally say “get out of my way”. This is rude! It can also startle someone who then may in fact move into your path causing a full collision.
8. If you hear “track” or “on your left” or “on the inside” either move directly off to the infield (in the case of just walking or having just stopped from your run) or move out to lane 2 or 3 or so. If there are no lanes, move out about 4-6 feet.
9. It’s ok to politely mention to someone on the inside lane that you will be doing a workout in lane 1 and would they mind moving out a lane.
10. If a track team is working out on the track – they take precedence over individuals. If you can workout on the farthest outside lanes without interfering and the coaches allow you, then do so. Otherwise, come back another time. This of course is very frustrating.
11. I have always encouraged responsible children (and parents) to come out to workouts. It’s good parental role modeling for the kids even if they aren’t running or walking. It’s also something that many single parents have to resort to. (I did many years ago.) Bring balls and activities to keep them busy. The long jump sand pits provide a good play area. Often you can even get them to run some laps. However, not all children have the self-control necessary. You know your child best. Please consider all the others on the track.