Sunday, 26 May 2013

Pavement pounding politeness

We don't know each other, but we will both smile, breathlessly utter "morning", or at least give a nod as we run past each other.

It's just one of the unwritten rules of running etiquette.

It's like we're both acknowledging each other's effort and/or discomfort, and sending encouragement across the track.

With the Gold Coast Marathon fast approaching and running training in full swing, I've had plenty (and I mean plenty) of time to ponder the social behaviours of runners.   

It's not something that anyone will sit down and tell you, but has just evolved out of necessity.   Here's a few rules I've discovered:

Pit stop politeness
On long early morning runs, it's not unusual for runners to require toilet breaks... even when there isn't a toilet around.   If you see someone run off into the bushes, it's strictly a policy of "don't ask, don't tell".

Don't mention the smell
At the start of races, as runners get into their paces, sometimes their bodies "adjust" themselves with a little flatulence.  The unwritten rule here is not to embarrass or draw attention to the runner with comments like "pee-eww", but charge on as if you are running through a field of flowers.   The same goes for more serious race accidents like soiled pants.

Don't block the path
After one or two hours of running, suddenly changing direction, and stopping and starting become herculean tasks requiring massive amounts of effort.   Good runners know to keep left and keep the path clear for others... now if only we can pass this politeness onto packs of cyclists, walkers, pram pushers and children with short attention spans on bikes.

We're in this together
While running races are competitive, there's also a real camaraderie - which is unusual given it is a solo sport.   This is probably born of the universal acceptance that the person who is most likely to stop us from crossing the finish line is ourselves.   As a result, runners are an encouraging lot who will say "hello" when you pass them (if they have the breath for it) and even a few kind words when you look like you're on your last gasp.

We're just not that into you
So while runners are friendly, they're not necessarily interested in listening to the thumping music or inane conversations of fellow runners.   Keeping your headphone volume down and your chit chat to a minimum are key to not alienating the runners around you.   We're also not too keen on listening to you  brag about your blistering pace, offer unwanted advice, and pontificate about how "barefoot running is the way to go".  

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