10 Tips for Trail Running Etiquette

The following are 10 Tips for better trail-running etiquette. Do you practice all of these when you go for a run at the park?

  • Call out when approaching someone from behind. As a common courtesy (and so as to not scare the bejeezus out of someone), call out to them with a “Coming up on your left/right!”. Especially if you are approaching someone on a horse (which often happens on park trails), give them plenty of reaction time; this is for your safety as well as the safety of the rider-as horses have a tendency to spook.
  • Obey pet rules. There is nothing more annoying than going for a run and encountering someone who has an unleashed pet. Keep your pet on a short leash when on public trails. Remember that animals can be unpredictable, and not all people like dogs!
  • Be aware of your surroundings. If it’s your first time running on a trail, make sure you a) run it with someone else who knows the trail or b) memorize the trail route first and bring your cell phone with you (just in case).
  • Do NOT listen to an Mp3 player while running on trails. The only exception that I’ve made to this is bringing my iPhone with me on a trail run and playing a few songs through the speaker phone. In all other circumstances, however, using an mp3 player while running is NEVER a good idea. Not only does it distract you, but it makes it more difficult to hear when others may be approaching you from a blindspot.
  • Don’t hog the path. Running in America is like driving in America. Stick to the right side of the trail or path. If you are pushing a stroller or cycling, the same rules apply. There’s nothing worse than being out for a run and trying to maneuver around several people who absolutely refuse to move over even an inch. Be courteous to other park pedestrians!
  • Acknowledge other runners. If you run by another runner, don’t be afraid to make eye contact and give a quick nod, ‘hello’, or wave in their direction. Doing so will add to your situational awareness, and it may save your life (or theirs) in the event of an emergency or injury where help is needed.
  • Use the bathroom before you go… but if you absolutely have to make an emergency pit stop in the woods, make sure that you go far enough off the trail that other passersby won’t notice you. Keep in mind that children often use public trails with adults, and the last thing that they need to see is someone using a “public” restroom.
  • Don’t litter. Often, there are no trash cans when you’re in the middle of a trail run. Dispose of any potential litter prior to beginning your run; otherwise, hold on to it until you return to your car or to your home.
  • Run on marked trails only. As much as you may want to ‘Robert Frost’ it and take the path less traveled, sticking to well worn, marked trails will always be your best bet. Stay off of closed trails, and avoid making your own as it may lead to a potential safety issue.
  • Let someone know where you’re going.  Even if it’s a quick message on Twitter or leaving word with your significant other, letting someone know where you’re running and approximately when to expect you back is a great safety precaution to take, and in numerous cases, it has wound up saving lives.

Have a tip that you’d like to share? Let’s hear it!

My doctor told me that jogging could add years to my life. I think he was right. I feel ten years older already. – Milton Berle

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