Road and Trail Running Etiquette
There is nothing quite like the feeling of the wind in your face as you run through the great outdoors. Whether you’re running on a trail through the wilderness or along a road in town, there are some basic road manners and trail etiquette you can follow to make sure you and everyone around you has a good and safe time.
Rules for Running on the Road
Running on the road is usually more dangerous because vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists share the road with you. For your own safety and the safety of others, it’s important to follow these rules:
- When running on the road, run against traffic, not with it. This way, you can see any oncoming vehicles ahead of you.
- Make sure you’re not taking up too much of the road. Running single file, or two abreast at most will prevent traffic jams and other road hazards.
- When you reach a stop sign, always stop and check to see that all cars in the area have noticed you and are yielding for you to cross. Always double check before crossing roads.
Rules for Running on Trails
Trail running can be exhilarating because you’re outside in nature, but it also involves guidelines beyond the rules of the road listed above.
When running outside on a trail, make sure to leave nothing more than your footprints along the trail. Nobody wants to see a hiking trail littered with bottles and energy bar wrappers. Normally there are not any garbage cans on the trail like you’d find when running in a city. If you bring disposable items with you on the trail, make sure they are properly disposed of.
Always keep in mind that you are not the only person using the trail. There will often be others out there using the trail for various purposes. Hikers, bicyclists, fellow runners, horseback riders, and all-terrain vehicles are some of the most common trail users you can meet out on your run
Each of these trail users requires different responses:
Sharing the Trail with Hikers
It is generally considered polite for hikers to yield to trail runners. Make sure they know you’re coming and be prepared to yield yourself. Some people who go hiking are not aware of trail etiquette and do not realize they should yield.
Sharing the Trail with Bicyclists
Foot traffic should always have the right of way, which means that bicyclists are responsible for avoiding any collision. They should alert you to their presence and yield, but that does not always happen. Be prepared to move out of the way if necessary.
Sharing the Trail with Other Runners
Let other runners know if you plan on passing, and remember to thank them.
Sharing the Trail with Horseback Riders
Horses can be spooked easily, which means it could quickly turn into a bad situation for everyone involved if you run up on an unaware horse. When you see a horse you should stop running and make your presence known to both the rider and the horse. Stop and allow them to pass if you are going in the opposite direction. If you are going the same direction, communicate with the rider about your desire to pass. Never sneak up directly behind a horse, they can kick their back legs pretty high and can do a lot of damage if scared. Always give the horse some room when passing on the trail.
Sharing the Trail with All Terrain Vehicles
All terrain vehicles are supposed to yield to slower traffic like runners, hikers, horseback riders, and bicyclists, however, do not expect all-terrain vehicles to do so. If you hear a vehicle coming move off the trail and let it pass. With the many blind spots and tight corners along off road trails, it is important to be safe and clear the way.
Single Track Running
Be aware that single track running has some different etiquette guidelines than running on multi-use trails. Since they are narrow and technical, it is crucial to be extra aware of your surroundings. There may not be much if any space for passing other trail users. You will need to communicate with anyone you come across to make any passing arrangements.
While it is never a good idea to wear headphones while trail running, this is especially true on singletrack trails. You need to be able to hear when someone is trying to alert you to their presence.
Race Etiquette Do’s and Don’ts
Each race is different, and each may have their own rules depending on the location, terrain, and distance. Here are a few basic rules you can still follow no matter the race:
- Each race you attend may have unique regulations, so thoroughly read any handouts given to you.
- Know your pace and place yourself in the pack accordingly at the starting line.
- As tempting as it may be to pump yourself up by blasting your favorite song, this is not the time nor the place for distractions like that. If you are playing music be sure you can hear your surroundings.
- Follow the rules listed above for running on a road or trail, and amp them all up a notch since there are going to be more people out there with you than usual.
And above all, have fun! That’s what running is all about.
We hope these rules helped you figure out some good running etiquette to follow for your next run.
If you’re interested in going for a trail run around Moab with a group of friends or just want to get out and explore Moab with a helpful guide, our sister company Canyon Voyages offers guided running tours for all ages. Get in touch with us to find the best time to get out for a run!