I was lucky enough to be paced around parkrun by a friend to a course PB on Saturday, and during our long run afterwards, we were chatting about the ‘lady’ who I overtook near the end with an impressive gear change. “It was because she was spitting,” I complained. “It makes me feel sick”. No matter how much I’m hurting during a run, if somebody near me is making that awful guttural hacking noise to clear spit out of their throat, and then makes that “ffthwur” sound to spit it out nearby, I can find another gear to get the hell out of their way. That of course got us discussing poor running etiquette, so I’ve done my best to come up with the lowdown of the worst sins you can commit while running. Completely biased, and with the help of the UKRunChat community, here are our Seven Deadly Sins, in reverse order:

The Blanker

Ever seen a fellow runner out, given them a wave or a “hello”, and they’ve completely ignored you? If you’re a Blanker, come on, we’re all in this together. I know you’re probably trying to concentrate hard on your technique so that when we pass, you look as though you’re running much faster than I am, but just give me a head nod in recognition.

“I’m always irked when fellow runners don’t say hello when I’m out running. I always make an effort to say hi. Even when my jaw is hanging off and I’m barking up a lung I still manage a wave.” @TWWhittaker

The Jangler

Could be keys, could be loose change. It’s EXTREMELY annoying when a Jangler is running next to you. It really throws me out of my rhythm. Have a look at securing loose change in a money bag, or pack notes! Secure your car key in a FlipBelt. Silence is golden.

“People with jingly pockets drive me mad!! How on earth do you run with all that going on?!” @sophie_runs

The Stopper

Who hasn’t encountered somebody who stops suddenly in front of them during a race or parkrun to tie a shoelace or walk? Sometimes, the Stopper is wearing headphones, and isn’t aware that they need to mirror, signal, manoeuvre because they can’t hear anything around them. I’ve run into a few Stoppers’ ankles with the running buggy before. These are often spotted closest to water stations at races. Can be dangerous, so beware.

“I got very close to a stranger’s bottom recently due to an unexpected stop!!” @The LouMary

Stoppers may also masquerade as Rolling Roadblocks.

“The rolling roadblocks chatting away that should never have been anywhere near your start pen.” @teef2

Be considerate folk and start in the right pen, and leave a little room for people to pass. This may sound elitist, but I’m not trying to offend or belittle those who want to complete a race slower. There is room for all of us, it just makes sense to let quicker runners out first so we can all enjoy a race at our own pace. Tip: a shout of “buggy runner coming through!” can really help with dispersing a Rolling Roadblock. You could also try being a Jangler or a Heavy Footer to encourage people to move aside.

The Spitter

Now escaping this particular individual has actually made me run faster in races, so could be seen as help rather than hindrance, but it’s still disgusting. It’s the noise more than anything: that deep hacking guttural noise, before the “thwump” of a big gob of spit flying out. I’ve had it land on my shoe before. Come on people – IT’S NOT NICE! (Although in that particular race I did PB after a gear shift to escape the Spitter.)

The Space-Invader

These people take a few forms. There are those who run close behind you, invading your personal space, sometimes so close that they occasionally do catch your ankles. This person may be slipstreaming, benefiting from your hard work and waiting to overtake you on sprint finish (not cool), or they may just have no idea of how much personal space is acceptable (my bubble is a large one). Mostly, at the start of races, Space Invaders like to cut in front of you without warning, risking tripping you up. Usually spotted at water stations, and around kids wanting hi-fives. Beware.

“The runners you just can’t shake – constantly beside you, speeding up, slowing down, and inside my personal space bubble” @NamelessWitness

The Snot Rocketer

Hands up, I am totally guilty here, but am I seriously meant to carry tissues when I run? Where would I keep them? They’d get sweaty and then I’d have to carry a snotty tissue around for the rest of my run. Seriously, what do other runners do? There is some etiquette to good snot-rocketing, and that is always check on wind direction before you aim (!!), and always look around you to make sure nobody’s in the firing line. I suffer with rhinitis when I run, coupled with hayfever during the summer months, so have a constantly streaming nose. I will make no apologies for my snot rocketing, but do always try to do it in private, apart from when I accidentally did it in front of my mum on a dog walk a few weeks ago – sorry mum! Gloves do come in particularly useful in winter, as do buffs.

“Snot rockets are filthy and disgusting. No excuses. Just don’t” @LufcColin

The Litterer

Usually seen at races, but not unique to them. I’ll ask a question which I want you to answer honestly: if you run with gels, where do you keep them while running, before you use them? In a gel belt, or a waist belt, or a pocket? Then put the empty wrapper back there until you can find a bin to dispose of it later, rather than throwing it on the floor for somebody else to pick up. Also be really careful when disposing of bottles at water stations, as flying bottles can trip other runners up. Many races now provide bins near water and fuel stations, so there really is no excuse. And if you’re on a training run, carry your litter home with you. Please.

“If you can carry it full, you can carry it empty!” @Kev_Running

“Littering … could impact on the organiser’s ability to get permissions to hold the race, especially relevant to trail races.” @BrianRunFar

So there are my seven deadly sins. Have you ever committed any? Go on, own up, we’re all friends here. Have I missed any that you think worthy of this list?

Just a bit of fun from my observations while running and racing, and not intended to offend anyone, but Littering is something that there really is no excuse for.

3 thoughts on “The Seven Deadly Sins of Poor Running Etiquette

  1. This list is so true and also hilarious–I think I encountered every one of these on my run this morning! I’m afraid I have to disagree with you though, the stock rockets gross me out way more than the spitting–As long as the person spits away from me or better yet when no one is around. Seeing someone blow a snot rocket has made me want to hurl on a run before. I do carry tissues with me cause my nose is nonstop when I run. To each their own I guess–just hopefully away from me 😍. Great post! x

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