Running For Beginners: Tips For Race Day Etiquette

Running For Beginners: Tips For Race Day Etiquette

People who don’t run regularly are probably thinking, “You’re all just supposed to run in a straight line, what’s the big deal?!”


There are a number of factors that play into running in a race properly with dozens of other runners…without everyone involved wanting to strangle each other. ????

I asked groups of fellow runners what their greatest pet peeves were on race-day. The answers I received were colorful, to say the least.

So, based on these answers…

Here Are The Top Tips for Race-Day Etiquette That All Runners Should Know!

1) Do NOT Walk More Than 2 People Across

One of the greatest aspects of this sport, is that it is for EVERYONE.


Even if the run/walk method is your jam, it’s become so commonplace that there are even multiple pace-groups for it!

But, for the love of all things good, PLEASE do not walk in a line more than 2 people across EVER.

You’re not doing anyone harm by walking, you’re doing harm by blocking the whole damn road ????

If you can’t tell already, I’ve been in this roadblock situation quite a few times.

And just to be clear, this goes for runners too! Allowing adequate space for other to pass prevents unnecessary traffic jams.

[Sidenote: If you plan on doing a run/walk method the entire race, be sure to stick to the side of the lane so as not to stop unexpectedly in front of the other runners throughout the race.]

2) Be Aware Of Your Surroundings

I know this is a “DUH!” statement…but you’d be surprised!

There are a number of small ways to greatly disrupt your fellow runner if you’re not paying close attention.

Running is definitely a sport where “staying in the zone” is a hard necessity.

We need to have as little distractions as possible to not mess with our “runner-zen”.

Due to this, there are a number of strange practices that runners partake in during races that may seem extreme to the average human.

For example, relieving yourself in the nearest bush (oftentimes regardless of its location) cause the porta-potty line is just TOO long. 

To some non-runners, extreme…to runners, NORMAL.

(We gotta do what we gotta do sometimes to keep our head in the game, okay?) 

That being said, there are a handful of things that runners can do absent-mindedly (due to this state of running-bliss) that are NOT acceptable.

Examples include:

– Cutting other runners off course

– Selfie-ing in the middle of the road

– Spitting without looking first

– Running too close to others for long periods of time

– Playing music so loud everyone can hear

– Throwing running gel packets frantically all over the place 

None of these things are often meant to cause any harm, and we all can be guilty of these things from time-to-time!

This is just a friendly reminder to perhaps think about your fellow runner next to you, before you release that snot-rocket.

3) Always Indicate When You Are Slowing Down/Stopping

The common gesture runners use to indicate this is by moving off to the side, and raising one hand in the air when slowing down.

This is also the gesture runners/walkers use routinely to indicate the same thing.

I’ve seen some crazy collisions occur (mainly around Mile 20 when you tend to lose your sense of direction), just because it wasn’t communicated to the other runners that someone would be stopping.

The last thing you want is to be responsible for another runners injury (and possibly your own!) cause you weren’t careful.

4) Course Cutters

Guys, REALLY?!

Not only do you get in people’s way, and throw other runners off, but you’re ultimately cheating yourself in the process.

You’ll want to be able to hold that medal at the end knowing you EARNED IT.

That’s like a close friend or relative saying, “Congrats on the killer marathon time!”, and you just reply, “Oh, yeah! I actually cheated!“.

Don’t be one of these people. 

And, well, if that aspect doesn’t phase you…you’re missing out on the whole point of running in the first place.

5) Be Honest About Your Starting Corral

Look, I know it can get stressful for some when you’re signing up for a race, worried about whether you’ll stay within the time requirements to finish.

So, maybe, you think…“Well, what’s the harm if I bump myself up a few corrals? It’ll just give me that much more time to finish!”.

I hate to put it so bluntly, but, your worries about the time-requirements are not anyone else’s problem.

That’s your concern, and yours alone. 

As someone whose at times felt super prepared for a race, and at other times not prepared AT ALL (and potentially worried about time), I can say that I relate to both sides.

The unfortunate truth is that, to make the race run as smoothly as possible for everyone involved, the corrals are SO BEYOND NECESSARY.

Please do your fellow runner a solid and be truthful about which corral you should sign up for.

Cause, when the race starts it’s very apparent who was honest, and who was lying their way to the front.

6) Don’t Be a Bandit

A.K.A. attempting to run the race without paying or registering for it.

I don’t even need to explain this one…just…DON’T.

Be a good person and enter the race like a civilized human. 

So, while this post has had an air of cynicism and sarcasm to it, it’s really not meant to bash other runners, or to make this seem like a hateful sport!

When you take the time to consider other runners’ needs, this is the most supportive community there is out there!

By following these simple suggestions it further allows EVERYONE involved in a racing community to enjoy themselves.

And TRUST ME, the absolute LAST thing you want to do is piss off a fellow runner who has run (or is about to run) a large number of miles! ????



Kat Rentas

Founder, Living In Slack Tide


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