Track Etiquette

High School Track Luling Texas

I’ve contemplated writing a post regarding running/walking etiquette, for several months. With the recent news of the New Jersey school SUPER-intendent Pooper, I decided that now was the time. This crap has to stop! (Ok, now that that is out of my system… oops, I did it again. Ok, enough of that, let’s move on).

All joking aside, the topic of etiquette during races comes up frequently on social media, runners’ publications and is a common sore spot for many runners/walkers. Recently though, it seems that etiquette (or lack thereof) issues have spilled over into training areas. So I thought I would share some of my recent experiences, and give you guys a chance to chime in.

Before going any further (for those of you I haven’t lost already), no I’m not a holier-than-though ass, who thinks he is better than everyone else. I’m not an elite athlete who thinks I own the track (or the race course). I’m just a regular guy, trying to get in a workout while respecting others’ right to do the same. I guess I just expect a certain level of that respect to be mutual.

We are blessed to have public access to our local high school’s track. No, we don’t do every run on the ol’ oval, but it is a valuable resource when it comes time to do speed work, “magic miles” and other workouts that require more accurate distance measurement. Sandy and I have been going out to the track to do our Yasso 800’s workouts (We are doing a Galloway plan aimed at improving our overall pace, with the Dam to Dam 20k as our target). Most times we meet other runners and walkers who are considerate and courteous, but we have run into the occasional manners misstep.

I think most etiquette related blunders come in three flavors:

  1. Most of us. I’ve totally stepped in front of someone who I didn’t know was passing me. I’ve forgotten and stayed on the left side when changing from a running to a walking interval. Yes, I’ve been a pain for other runners, and I try my best to apologize if I’m able.
  2. Some folks just don’t know the rules. For those newbies, I have this advice: welcome to our sport, here are some rules that will help you and others around you, get more enjoyment out of this experience. We’ve all been new at something, so most of us will give at least a partial pass to someone who just hasn’t learned the rules of the road.
  3. Some folks who should know better and just don’t seem to care. These are the folks who get me fired up. No, I haven’t had anyone poop on our track, but when someone messes with something I consider a privilege, it gets me a little hot under the collar. Why? Because we have lost access to the track in the past for just this type of nonsense, and I would like to keep it from happening again.


That said, here are some things we should ALL keep in mind when we are out there enjoying this sport we love. (Some of these are specific to the track, but most can be applied to ANY training area)

Obey the posted rules where applicable. Whether you agree or not, they are there for a reason.

One of the very clear rules posted at our track prohibits the use of anything with wheels.  The posted rules even go so far as to give examples of some wheeled items.  This includes Rollerblades, Skates, Skateboards, Strollers, Bicycles, and Scooters. Wheeled vehicles are harmful to the track surface and are prohibited. Therefore those running on the track shouldn’t have to be concerned about dodging small unsupervised children on their bikes, or families out for their evening stroll with the stroller AND the toddler(s) in tow. Don’t get me wrong, I love kids and am delighted when I see them out doing anything physical but please parents, use some common sense. If I fall over your kid when running at full speed (blazing as that is) they are most likely going to lose that battle. Then I have to feel bad because I hurt your child! And one more note regarding wheeled vehicles. My mom would love to come out and walk around the track when we are out running. It would probably be really good for her health. My mom uses a walker, with wheels, so she doesn’t get to go. Just sayin’.

Large groups of walkers. Please notice that others are using the track as well. This is not social hour, I am assuming you are on the TRACK because you are doing a workout. There are at least three parks in town that are great for social walks. If your 5 lane wide group causes others to have to run off the track to go around you, maybe that should tell you something?

Lanes… pick one, any one. I don’t even care if it’s NOT lane 5 or 6 as designated on the sign. Just pick one.

Dogs, cats, pet goats… whatever they are, they don’t belong on the track. Don’t bring your pets and let them poop on the field and/or track. First off, it’s nasty, and obviously, it sets a bad example for some of us.

And last but not least. If you are going to come to the track or football field… even just to sit and watch your little kids kick a football around, can you do the rest of us a favor and don’t sit on the edge of the track and smoke? Not only is it really bad for you, but I don’t want to have to breathe it while I am already trying to gulp air like a fish out of water, AND I am pretty sure the whole campus area is smoke-free even when school is not in session.

Signs of rules posted at high school track in Luling Texas

    The large signs posted at the entrance of the track. Confusing?

So there ya have it. Like I mentioned before, much of what I have used as examples here, centers around misuse of the wonderful resource (the track) that we have been blessed with. But most of these situations can be applied to anywhere you run/walk/workout in public. For me, it all boils down to just taking a few moments to consider how your actions might affect others. All I ask, all most of us ask is just a little bit of politeness, consideration, and respect. With those three ideals, we can all continue to enjoy our sport(s)… together.

It’s your turn. What are your track etiquette stories? Have you been guilty of a manners misstep (haven’t we all?)? Experienced an etiquette offender? Have you lost access to a training resource because of others’ misuse? Do you think I’m a whiny ass and should stick to the treadmill? I want to hear from you!

Happy running! -Fatman