Running For Dummies

On your mark.

Get set.


You’ve signed up. You trained your tushy off. It’s race day and all you have to do is just show up and run right? Isn’t running a race is just putting one foot in front of the other and repeating that until you cross the finish line? Wrong and nope! Running, like anything else in life has “rules” – both said and unsaid. There are the rules that you have to follow like you can’t hop a bus at mile 1 and ride it to the finish line and expect to be crowned the winner and you can’t cross the line and kick over the timing clock no matter how mad you are at your time. Some races have time limits, gear restrictions and corrals where you have to check in to in order to even start a race. And then there are actual laws that will get you jail time if you break them. PS – running clothed is NOT just a suggestion.

Wow. Who knew there was so much info one had to remember in order to pay to run?

Well that’s not all folks.

There are also the unspoken rules that you should follow when doing a race. You won’t be handed a citation by the running police and taken to runner jail if you break these “laws”, but you may be called some colorful words by your fellow runners if you don’t abide by them. Side note: what would runner jail be like? Would you have to wear crappy shoes and shorts that give you the ultimate wedgie, run for hours on the dreadmill and have all of your carbs taken away? Anywhosers….I decided to put together a list of the do’s and don’ts of running or what I refer to “if you do these things around me while I am racing I will call you an ahole and put a hex on you so you develop the world largest blisters”. Here is my running etiquette list so your next race doesn’t consist of an angry mob chasing you down to take your running shoes away from you and revoke your running club membership.

Pre Race

Do: Go to the bathroom even if you don’t think you have to go.

Don’t: Stop at mile .23 and pee along side of the road.

This rule is mostly for dudes although I have seen women do it too. Guys, I know you are super proud of what the Good Lord gave you, but that doesn’t mean that the whole running community wants to see your junk. If you seriously can’t hold it, then please find a bush or a tree and mark your territory there.

Race Line Up

Do: Get in the corral in which you were assigned or line up near your pace marker.

Don’t: Get into a faster corral or get in the front of the crowd and run (or gasp walk) slower than those around you. Bumping your placement closer to the start line will not guarantee that you will finish sooner. It just means you are going to clog up and slow down the faster runners that have to fight to get around you. Rule of thumb: get near the pacer of a pace that you know you can run. If you pass them and finish faster then yay you.

Running With A Buddy (or buddies)

Do: Run to the side of the road  and get as close to each other as possible. Don’t: Spread out as far as humanly possible and take up the entire road. I get that running with a friend may motivate you and push you to do your best, but obstructing the path for a faster runner may motivate them to push you and your friend(s) into a mud puddle…face first. (Note: did I mention that you don’t ever want to piss a serious runner off? They typically run to relieve stress and anger issues)


Do: Gradually and safely make your way to the side of the road and stop there.

Don’t: Stop dead in your tracks and hope for the best. This action typically happens with young kids running races and is my BIGGEST pet peeve. If you have to stop for whatever reason, then do it safely for yourself and the other runners around you. I was at a race right after finally being cleared to run again after breaking my foot and a young boy (like 10 or 11) took off sprinting. Well of course after a minute of this he had to stop and he put the brakes on right in front of me. I ended up stumbling over him and tripping. NOW remember, I was just coming back after weeks of not running and I was deathly afraid of hurting myself again so maybe I yelled at him a little too much, but the bugger deserved it. Not only could ne have hurt me but he could have been hurt himself. Also – if you need to look at your phone or change up your music, move off to the side and dilly dally there if you can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.

Eliminating Bodily Fluids

Do: If you have to spit or farmer blow, be aware of your surroundings.

Don’t: We have all been there so if you are all “ewwwwww….that’s gross” then you aren’t a real runner. Blowing snot rockets and hawking loogies is a part of running so when, not if, you do it make sure no one is in the path of your booger beam. No one wants a spit shower so look before you blow.

Water Stops

Do: Watch for them and gradually make your way to that side of the road.

Don’t: Dart in front of another runner in order to quench your thirst. At most large races you can see the water stop  coming up for quite a while. If you need to get a drink then slowly and safely make your way to that side of the road. Once in the water stop, reach out for a water and walk if you need to. This is the time when it is expected for runners to walk so if a runner gets pissy at you for stopping, then break the previous rule and spit on their foot.

Running in General

Do: Run in a straight line unless you are maneuvering around other runners.

Don’t: Unless you are drunk (which may be breaking an actual law), don’t zig zag all over the road. If you are passing, be respectful of their space. Don’t bump into them or cut them off. THIS ISN’T NASCAR. If you are just looking for a smoother part of the road and want to move, again watch where you are going and safely move to that part of the road.


Do: Cross the finish line and keep moving.

Don’t: Stop as soon as you cross the finish line and rest there. The only time this is ok is if you are at a race where they need to take off part of your bib (then they remove it and your move on) or if you are having a medical emergency.  When you are done racing, move out of the way so other racers can finish too. I have been guilty of this a time or two, but once I found out that the food was down a ways from the end of the race, I never made that mistake again. There are 2 reasons I run: For cool medals and for post race food.


Do: Whether you are a seasoned runner or a newbie, if you see another runner struggling – encourage them. Say “looking strong” or “nice job” or, my favorite, yell “free high fives”  and give them one. Sometimes getting a little pep talk helps you push through the rough parts.

Do: Also, don’t forget to thank someone who unknowingly carried you through the race. Many times I keep my eye on a runner in front of me. When I struggle, I use them as my motivation to keep moving. If I see them after the race I will always thank them for pushing me. It may be a little creepy as I am gasping for air and shoving post race treats down my throat, but hey I gotta give props when props are due!

Do: Thank the police officers as your run by for keeping you safe. It is because of them that you are able to do what you love…or love to hate. Either way, their protection is a God send.

Do: Thank the volunteers and race staff. They put in a lot of blood, sweat, tears, sleepless night and hella amounts of work to help put together the race. As a race director, you will never know how much a thank you means.