Sunday, February 24, 2013

Let's Keep it Safe!

I have control issues from time to time. I discovered this on the trail as my pace group mates were not following the rules of the trail. I should mention, I like to follow the rules for the most part. I do make some distinctions between rules and the spirit of the rules but when it comes to the trail, rules are rules. They are there for a reason; our safety!

Running groups can be extremely rewarding but sometimes equally frustrating. Read this blog post about the different types of runners to understand what I mean by a running group (or what this blogger calls club runners. Just a quick disclaimer, I do love the Angry Jogger but proceed with caution if you are sensitive to language... I've been reading the Angry Jogger's blog for awhile and often find myself laughing  out loud while, in some cases, feeling slightly uncomfortable about the topic).

Back to trying to make a point...

When running in groups you have to make some concessions and accept where you fit in and not force it. I have discovered over the past couple of years that, for me, the most important feature of group running is adjusting to the dynamics of the group and recognizing that sometimes I simply don't have control. I also have to recognize that I can't control of group of 30 or so people while on the trail, and for goodness sake, it isn't even my job!!! Sue, my friend and running buddy, pointed out my control issue one morning and I am oh so glad she did!!!

On one crisp morning there were a number of runners in our group who were running wider than two abreast on the trail. I was getting angsty while watching this very poor trail use behavior and decided to try to correct it. I told stories about being clipped by cyclists, and times I've almost run people over as a cyclist but the reality is, if I'm following the rules I am not the one who looks bad AND I'm also not the one who is going to get run over by a bicycle, so I need to get over it, right?

Well not totally... I feel that in life we have a responsibility to point out a potentially harmful situation when noticed, but our job stops there... Point it out and move on. As a cyclist, dog owner and a runner, I do believe I am more hyper sensitive to trail etiquette than most people because I don't want to get hurt, have my dog killed or injure a child while using the multi-purpose trails around town.

So, one of the reasons I enjoy my athleticism so much is because I dictate what happens every day athletically. I dictate or control my training schedule, when I work out, distance, pace, etc. I do believe one of the things runners like is the sense of control or peace they find while running. What I don't have control over is how others utilize a shared resource, like a multi-use trail.  Why, oh why would I continue running down a path that causes me such angst when all I'm trying to do is find my balance and peace on the trail?

During the run described above I discovered that I can only control myself. I did what I could to help out my fellow runners so as to keep them and the other trail patrons safe and now I need to move on, so move on is what I have done.

To protect myself from an angsty run and better grasp the control I so evidently need, I have discovered that running in the front of the pack is the best place for me so as not to get frustrated by the poor trail manners of my running mates. I do believe this keeps us all much happier.

Sarah's Guide to Trail Safety for Runners

  • Stay to the right, the far right that is! When people are coming from both directions and a cyclist needs to pass, if both runners in both directions are far enough to the right, the cyclist will be able to safely pass.
  • Run no more than two wide. This means that no more than two people should be running next to each other. Also, see the first bullet point. Just because you are following this rule, it does not mean you are following the first rule. I have seen plenty of people running next to each other but then run on the wrong side of the trail. You will get run over! Oh, and if there are three people in your pack, accept that one of you might get left out of part of the conversation. It happens!
  • Get off the trail as you are turning around so you can properly check both directions for moving trail users. This will eliminate you cutting off a faster group or cyclist before continuing on with your personal running adventure. 
  • Clean up after yourself! Just because you can throw your cups on the road during a race does NOT mean you should do it when out training. Unless you have a personal assistant running behind you to pick up your Gu packets or cups, you should pocket your garbage and throw it away yourself. 
  • Let people know when you are going to run past them. This is rarely necessary for me as a runner since I am so slow, but if you happen to be a fast runner, us slow folks like to try and get out of your way!
Don't worry runners, I don't think you are the only people guilty of inadequate trail etiquette. A future post with cycling rules will be coming up in the near future! 


  1. As you know, I witnessed a cyclist slam into a runner who turned around to head back without checking her proverbial "mirrors" first. The cyclist went over the handlebars and landed flat on his back. I bet that hurt. I definitely fight the same thing and I may or may not have used a swear word yesterday to remind my adult runners that they needed to be two abreast. Maybe. Just maybe.

  2. Great post. I am glad I am not the only one that gets so frustrated with running groups not following the running two abreast and to the side rule! :)