Track etiquette |

Track etiquette

Some runners hate workouts on the track, possibly associating the track with hard intervals or speedwork -or they just dislike going round and round in circles.

Other runners, like myself, enjoy running on the track, finding the every lap feedback useful in determining pace, while being able to see progress readily. Instead of finding running in circles boring, a different outlook is the peaceful zen of locking into a pace and getting into the “zone” while not having to worry about traffic on the roads, tripping on rocks or roots on the trails, or slipping in mud during rainy times.

The all-weather track at Nevada Union High School (which is not available on schooldays between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.) also offers something that is almost impossible to find in our area: a flat place to run. This can be particularly important when a runner is recovering from an injury that can be aggravated by hills or uneven footplant common on trail runs.

The track, after all, is our friend!

An important concept to keep in mind when running on the track is The Golden Rule.

Reading the rules board posted on the chain-link fence going into the track area from the school is also highly recommended.

Much of what would fall into either category is just plain common sense, so you might be surprised at how often these rules are broken.

While most track users are conscientious about abiding by the track rules and common courtesy, it may be that others just haven’t taken the time to read the “do’s and don’ts” of the track.

One rule broken on a regular basis is no pets in the track area. This especially applies to “man’s best friend,” as dogs have a tendency to want to run along with runners, and often get caught up in their feet or run directly across the runner’s path or even head on into them in their exuberance to “play.”

This can be very dangerous to the runners, who have to cut their stride or be tripped and possibly fall. Let’s not even get into the possibility of animals relieving themselves on the track …

And those of us who have been bitten by dogs – after, of course, the owners have assured us their dogs don’t bite, as they run towards us while the owners hold unattached leashes wrapped around their hands – shouldn’t have to worry about being attacked in our age of “leash laws.”

Last year, as I was running, a giant poodle came bounding toward me, panting, its mouth open. The owner called to me that it wouldn’t bite, as it happily leaped up with its paws on my leg and my elbow in its mouth.

I reacted in surprise, saying “Your dog bit me!”

The owner replied that it hadn’t bitten me.

Guess that’s a matter for debate as I had a six-inch red scratch on my forearm from its teeth. Not a fun experience, and I’m sure the dog’s owner wasn’t feeling good about what happened either.

Another rule that is broken, even more often, is no bikes or skateboards on the track. At least this one is less of a threat to the runners as riders seem to have more control, but it is meant to protect the track itself.

Runners and walkers who have been using the track for more than five years will remember the old dirt one we used to have and how awful it was, with a stream running over the far corner, making for an uneven and pocked surface that was an ankle-twisting threat every lap.

And when it rained, forget it …

Other common-sense/Golden Rule concepts to keep in mind:

– Give the right-of-way to the faster runners. If you hear someone coming up fast behind you, move out a lane to let them pass, then move back in. Along these lines, walkers have been asked to use the outer lanes to help preserve the inside two lanes for the runners.

This, of course, applies to baby strollers as well.

– Headphones are OK as long as you can be aware of what is going on nearby, so you can react if necessary.

– Appropriate shoes should be worn on the track. Cleats that can damage the surface should not be used.

– As a common courtesy to fellow runners, don’t spit on the track. There’s grass to the inside that wouldn’t mind the “watering.” It’s not very pleasant to have to avoid a glob of glutinous “gunk” on the track while running, or worse, stepping in it.

We are very fortunate to have the all-weather surface we have now, and we should treat it with respect so it will last.

Please write in with any additional Golden Rule suggestions based on your experiences on the track.

Steve Bond is a competitive runner, who writes a bimonthly column and is regular contributor to The Union. He may be reached via e-mail at

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