Track Running Etiquette: Bring Serenity to Speedwork

Those of us recreational runners who didn’t get started until later in life may not be familiar with track running etiquette. (Yes, I’m one of them.) As I started setting running goals, I realized I’d have to do speedwork on a running track. At 5:30 a.m., when the high school track teams are practicing (along with other runners), I had to learn track running etiquette quickly. So what I’ve learned, I’m now sharing so that all of our runs on the track can be as peaceful as possible.

Want to bring some serenity to your speedwork? Read up on track running etiquette in this post.

Always check the posted rules. It’s not really track running etiquette, but always check the posted rules before hitting the track. Note the hours you can run – for example, some school tracks may not open until 5:30 a.m.

Run counter-clockwise. Unless the posted rules say otherwise, run counter-clockwise. Otherwise you’ll be running head-on into someone, particularly at 5:30 a.m. when the sun isn’t yet up.

Leave your music at home. On a running track, you’ll want to be aware of other runners. If you need tunes, consider getting a pair of open-ear headphones like Aftershokz, which let you hear ambient noise.

If you’re walking, stay on the outside lanes. The inside lanes are for runners, like on the freeway. If you’re in the innermost lane and get lapped, move to the third or fourth lane.

Be aware of other runners. If you hear someone yell, “On your left!”, then move to the right. Look both ways before crossing the track.

Don’t run two in one lane. And, for that matter, don’t run two abreast, because that makes it harder for other people to pass.

Don’t stop in the middle of the track. Please don’t. Move quickly to the side if you need to stop, stretch, catch your breath, or tie your shoe.

Whether you’re just getting started with speedwork or are a veteran, these track running etiquette tips can help avoid conflict. (I may or may not have hissed “moron” at a man running clockwise on the track while wearing headphones at 5:30 a.m. – in the dark. I’m an anomaly, though: most people aren’t going to hiss at you.) Pay attention to what everyone else is doing, and basically, just stay out of other runners’ ways.