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Running Etiquette: Mind Your Manners


To spit or not to spit? That’s just one of the questions we asked Lizzie Post! The etiquette expert, avid runner and great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post guided us through every fitness foible.

My friend always bonks during marathons and asks my advice afterward. I know it’s because she isn’t putting in the training, but I don’t know if I should tell her. —Pamela

Lizzie Post: The sporting world is one of the only areas in life where it’s generally acceptable to tell someone bluntly to put in more effort. She’s asking for your advice. Look at her and say, “Girl, you just have to train harder.” If possible, offer to help her get ready for her next race by running together a few times a week.

Is it best to run on the sidewalk, bike lane or street? —Erin

LP: Safety is the key. It’s always preferable to stick to the pedestrian-designated area. But if the sidewalk is extremely crowded and there aren’t many cyclists in the bike lane or drivers on the road, you can run against traffic in either area. Use your best judgment to assess what’s going to feel most comfortable for you and those around you.

My running buddy doesn’t have a GPS watch. When we run together, she always expects me to bring mine. She even asks me to borrow it when she races solo. At what point can I tell her to get her own? —Krista

LP: This is a classic case of when lending hits the limit. Remember, when someone asks you to borrow something, you can always say, “No.” If you tell your friend, “Sorry, I’d really rather not lend my watch out this weekend,” she’ll likely get the point. If that doesn’t work, you can simply say, “I love running with you, but I feel like we’re sharing my device. If you’re going to use a watch this often, I’d appreciate it if you just bought your own.” Leave it at that.

What do you do if you’re running with a big group and you have to umm pass gas? —Michaela

LP: It happens! When you’re running, your body is working stuff out of its system. Back away from people if you can—but sometimes there’s nothing you can do. “Excuse me” always works. You don’t have to make a big deal out of it or get embarrassed. Runners understand!

My favorite trail often hosts local races. When I’m running on the trail while a race is taking place, the runners give me death stares if I don’t fall over myself to get out of their way. It’s my trail too! What should I do? —Luann

LP: It’s unfortunate that your favorite spot to run is heavily used for races. Nonetheless, you have to respect the fact that a race is taking place. Even if you were running the race, it would be customary to get out of the way of faster runners. Try to do the same as a non-racer. Can you adjust the time of day you run so as to not interfere with the race schedule? If not, you’re just going to have to deal with the fact that you’re ticking people off if you don’t move to the side of the trail.

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