It’s officially fall. It is now the time for leaves to turn, boots to be worn and everything offered in pumpkin flavor. But fall brings much more than cute clothes and yummy flavored beverages. Fall also means its running season.
Fall is my favorite time of year to be a runner. Most of my favorite races are in the fall like Wine at the Line and Drumstick Dash. The crisp temperatures make the runs much more enjoyable than the summer heat. Also, I get to bust out my cool weather running gear that has been cooped up for too long.
Running is my therapy. It’s a chance for me to think things through. While I’m on the trail, nothing else needs to be done but getting my mileage in. Running serves as the best stress reliever I’ve ever encountered.
Additionally, signing up for races helps push me to improve. And there are so many races out there from which to choose. There are the serious races like the Indy Women’s or the Mill Race in Columbus. Or maybe you’re into more fun or themed races like the Circle City Donut Dash 5k or OktoberFast. at Germanfest. There are even races where you can run on race tracks! If you can’t find a race that fits your personality, then you likely aren’t looking hard enough.
Thinking of running your first race this fall? Awesome. But before you do, it’s important you understand good runner’s etiquette. Check out my tips to make you and your fellow runners have a great race.
Know your speed.
Naturally, you will be excited for your first race. You’ll want to start right in the front because you are so excited!
Hold your horses. Before you get in that queue, make sure you know your speed. Some races uses corrals with specific race speed to help you know where you should start. If you’ve been training, you should know roughly what your average mile speed is by the time of your race.
Most races don’t utilize the corral system. So it is up to you to find the right space. If you are an elite or fast runner, then get on up to the front. If you’re like me and just an average runner, try to start somewhere in the middle. If you are walker or a slow runner, you really need to make sure to head towards the back of the pack.
Starting in the right spot ensures a great race for everyone. When slower runners or walkers start towards the front, they cause potential hazards for faster racers behind them. So many times I’ve spent the first mile of a race dodging walkers or almost crash into those decreasing speed abruptly. Knowing where you should start allows for a more consistent flow for all runners and prevents potential crashes.
Be mindful of those around you.
This isn’t just a race tip. It’s a life tip. The number of people who don’t realize there are other people in the world completely shocks me. Especially when running. So many times, people bump into me or step in front of me because they have no idea I’m even around (and trust me. They should know I’m there by the heavy breathing).
Also, if you are running with friends, be sure not to create a wall where faster runners or walkers can’t get around you. Many times, the race routes are on narrow roads. Walking four across only creates a back up or causes runners to run off the preferred route to get around them. Try to stay compacted as much as possible.
Finally, if you run with headphones in, try not to have your music so loud that you can’t hear those around you. You need to know who is coming around you so that you don’t accidentally step out in front of them.
Don’t stop abruptly.
When I race, I try to find someone going a little quicker than I am and then I follow that person (not in a creepy way). It helps me keep pace, but also pushes me as I go. But experience taught me that you don’t want to follow too close. It never fails that eventually that person (or someone else in front of you) will just stop all of sudden. No warning, just bam! Stops dead in their tracks. Luckily, I’m mindful enough to dodge these people once this happens. Nevertheless, it still causes the potential for an accidental pile-up of runners.
If you are running and need to stop, try to move over to the side away from the rest of the runners. It really is a matter or courtesy and safety.
Keep Dogs under Control.
Disclaimer: I’m not a dog person. However, this doesn’t mean I think races should ban dogs. I think it’s great if people want to bring them. I just ask that if you bring your dog, you keep it under control. Please keep it on a leash and try to keep that leash short enough that the dog doesn’t cut in front of runners.
Also, if your dog gets really excited about having a bunch of people around, might be best to leave the good boy at home. With so many people in such a small space, something tells me your dog might get a little overwhelmed. Finally, if your dog’s natural bodily functions happen during a race, please do you best to either move to the side to let him finish his business or kindly clean up the mess. Nobody like dog shit on their running shoes.
Stop holding hands
Ok. This has nothing to do with etiquette. Mostly, I just don’t get it (because I’m heartless human being). Why are you people holding hands while exercising? Is it really necessary to do so while you run/walk a 5k? Yes, you’re so in love. Great. But its race time. Save the hand-holding for walking back to the car.
Run all the way through the finish line.
Yay! You completed your first race. You are likely exhausted and ready to stop. You can, just not right at the finish line. Once you get there, keep it moving to make sure you don’t get trampled by runners behind you (trust me. It happens. I’ve seen it). The best part of the race comes right past the finish line: water, bananas, snacks and maybe even a cold alcoholic beverage (depending on your race).
I hope that you will take advantage of fall running season. Whether you are a walker, jogger, or runner, participating in races is a great source of exercise and typically supports good causes. But just make sure you are mindful and respectful of your fellow runners!