Track Etiquette Take II

I think it is really neat to see people out using tracks to run, jog and walk on. I love the company. As I previously posted, there is a certain etiquette I wish was followed and generally known. Basically – slower runners (walkers) to the outside lanes, faster runners get the inside lanes. It is a pet peeve as well as a safety issue.

Now the generally accepted way to get someone’s attention is to call out “track”. If you are accustomed to the track world most react quickly and jump off the track or move out immediately. However, “track” is actually non-instructive or directive for non-trackees. It is more directive to say something similar to cyclists. In the case of running on a track, “on your inside” or “on your left” are best.

The down side to calling any of these things out is that you can come across as a bit pompous, egotistical (It’s like saying “I’m faster than you are, ha, ha.”) or just not friendly. It’s hard to soften your voice as you gasp out “ON YOUR LEFT” and make it sound like a request versus an order.

So, first try the following subtle ways to get their attention. They work pretty often:

Breathe through pursed lips (audible puff), cough, clear your throat, throw a snot-rocket, or some other bodily function… through sounds try to get others’ attention.

Now, if they have ear phones in their ears… forget it… all bets are off. It is a safety issue. If you are on a track.. ditch the headphones!

And last but  not least, if you are the faster runner, refrain from roaring past someone an inch away from their shoulder trying to give them a not so subtle hint to move. This is unsafe. If they have earphones on or are absorbed in just thought, you can startle them. If they jump in your way, you’re in for a nasty one. It serves no purpose, is dangerous and far MORE rude than the person moving slower on the inside lanes.

It’s like the signs you see re: cycling… share the road… ok, in this case, let’s share the track.


About Dean Hebert

I’m a mental game coach, author and speaker. I work with individual athletes, parents, coaches, and teams on sports performance enhancement. Beyond my academic post-graduate work in sports psychology - the psychology behind athlete performance – I am a certified Mental Games Coaching Professional (MGCP) and certified hypnotherapist. I’ve authored several books and hundreds of articles. “Coach, I didn’t run because…” (2008) is a seriously light-hearted look at making excuses not to workout and how to overcome them. “Focus for Fitness” (2009) and “Screw the Goals Give me the Donut” (2010) are two of my eBooks on mental game approaches for the everyday athlete. I wrote these because I believe that everyone can benefit from the powerful mental techniques that the world’s best athletes use. I have been cited in Runners World, Best Health magazine (CN), SWEAT Magazine, and the Washington Examiner amongst many other publications. I have been a featured mental games coach in Runner’s World and for the internationally acclaimed trail running resource - I also regularly appear on sports and fitness talk shows such as LTKFitness, Runnersroundtable and for more than three years I have co-hosted a weekly video series with Coach Joe English for I specialize in mental toughness training. My clients include tennis, synchronized swimming, golf, race-kart, soccer, motocross, volleyball, MMA, cycling (road, off-road, time-trialist), running, duathlon and triathlon, basketball, football and baseball athletes. I have coached world-class athletes and athletes internationally. I have a passion for working with youth athletes and helping them apply mental game skills and techniques to all areas of life. Most importantly, my aim is to have people enjoy sports and life to their fullest through peak performances.
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7 Responses to Track Etiquette Take II

  1. Jim says:

    I have found that this also works..many times I have chatted with the people on the track before I did a workout ( or if coaching..before my athletes began) and told them that some pretty fast people will be running a workout and kind of explain things to them. Its worked well everytime I have tried that approach. people seem to appreciate the advice and actually many have watched the workout

  2. James – you’re so right. I also have done so and should have mentioned that. Something so basic as using communication. Wow, what a concept. I think the underlying failed assumption is that people do these things purposely just to irritate faster runners! Good Grief!

    • handy1912 says:

      I am not a fast runner. I am an old marathon runner. I am in Thailand. We are lucky enough, I thought, to have a lovely new all weather track.
      I have run there for 4 years on what was previously a dirt track. I then had the track to myself and used it because it was kind to my old legs.
      We have 8 lanes and a 2/3 wide un numbered lane outside lane 8 which I run on. Every evening when the children arrive the outer three lanes become a chatting and changing area in front of the home stand and very often there are 5 lanes blocked on the back straight being used by the local Div2 football team as a lecture room. Amazing Thailand. I preferred it when it was a dirt track.

      • Dean Hebert says:

        I still love dirt tracks… Unlined. Many of the middle school or jr. High schools still have them here in the USA. I’ve never found a great solution with football teams and marching bands on the track. Good luck with that.

  3. Pingback: Community Tracks - A Nationwide Issue? « The Running World According to Dean

  4. Angela says:

    I have a question: I use the track very rarely (i prefer the street), but use it with a friend periodically. There is a group of runners who run use the track every Tuesday and they run on the outside clockwise and sometimes they run on the inside for their faster workouts counterclockwise. So, not knowing which way to go I just used the inside track with my friend and had the group go around us. There was a rude guy who was running past us and said: can you move!!! Of course, I said “No” to that. I feel if they are using the WHOLE track I should be able to use the inside for just a thirty minute run. What should I have done or what way should I have handled it better? Now, as I read from the above the faster runners use the inside, but I was so put off with his bad attitude that I seized cooperating.

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Regardless of “rules of the road” there is no excuse for rudeness so I completely understand your reaction. Often to warm up before a workout it’s advisable to run in the opposite direction (clockwise) to decrease overuse injuries (especially ITB). Often these laps are done on the infield in fact and not even on the track itself. But since these are slow warm up laps they should still follow the rule – stay outside and leave the inside for faster runners. Typically lanes 4-8 are for warming up not 1-2-3 unless there is no one else on the track. Then actual workouts (and races) are done counterclockwise. There is no excuse for any group to monopolize a track. I completely advocate sharing the track. Racer, runner, jogger, walker – everyone can use it simultaneously if they just follow the rules of the road. It stays safe. Everyone gets workouts in.

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