What to Do for Runners

Everybody needs a top list. And this is mine. I was going to go to 10, but I ran out of steam and thought I might get a few comments that would round out the countdown. Enjoy!

Megan’s Top 8 Things to Do For/Say to Runners

  1. Be a fan. Running isn’t known for being a spectator sport, and even though there are lots of spectating DON’Ts, runners do appreciate support. Especially when it comes in the form of funny signs, music, or other entertainment during a (sometimes) long, (often) painful, and (usually) lonely endeavor. My top examples are the FANATICS at the NCAA XC Championships. Imagine those costumed folks at basketball games, and then transplant them onto a golf course and make them mobile. It’s a sight to see. In fact, it’s so much a sight to see that I’m attaching links to photos of Notre Dame’s two competing groups of FANATICS who roamed the course in 2006 trying to outdo each other in supporting their teams. (RunningFanatics1 & RunningFanatics2) I’m also still giggling about the spectator who camped out on top of the infamous McDaniels Hill during the Reedy River 10k. This fella was holding a sign that said “It’s all downhill from here!” Priceless.
  2. Be nice. Related to be a fan, this applies more to the little, everyday things instead of support during a race. The staff of the Brick House coffee shack on my morning route often cheer for me as I run by. This small act of kindness is always unexpected…and always, always appreciated. It makes me smile just thinking about it.
  3. Avoid the running cliches. There are indeed running cliches, and like the plague is how you should avoid them. Calling out “run, Forest, run!” to a passing runner may seem original and witty, but it is in fact neither. We’ve all heard this one a thousand times. The same goes for asking a runner if they’re lost or need a ride…when it’s said sarcastically. If a runner actually looks lost or injured, there’s no problem with being a good Samaritan.
  4. Look both ways…or, share the road. Every runner has a horror story about a near-miss (or an actual collision with) a car. On the roads, I surprise a lot of drivers. I imagine they think, “What’s that fool doing on the road? Find a sidewalk, missy!” When I’m running on a sidewalk, however, I have to pay extra close attention to (or anticipate the next move of) drivers exiting or entering the roadway. Lots of people focus solely on oncoming vehicular traffic and totally ignore the pedestrian with the right-of-way. It’s mostly my responsibility to keep myself safe, I know. And I do! But please, be careful.
  5. Be respectful. There’s a Seinfeld episode where his opening clip explains that guys honk and whistle at ladies because that’s the best idea they’ve come up with so far. Well, here’s a little secret…most women don’t find that particularly complementary. Especially not when they’re running, which is an activity they undertake for their own benefit and NOT for your amusement.
  6. Support greenways or railtrails. This one is Greenville-specific. Have you heard about the Swamp Rabbit Trail? They’re planning to convert an old rail line between downtown Greenville and Travelers Rest into a multi-use fitness trail. Currently, there’s about a mile of paved, completed trail in downtown Gville, and I believe that they’ve removed the railroad ties and covered up the gravel on some portions near Furman. (If anyone has an update, I’d really appreciate it!) The Swamp Rabbit plans are unique to my experience, because they include one lane of rubberized track surface in addition to two lanes of asphalt. Running buddy and I love the “squishy trail,” and if completed it’ll help solve some of the problems mentioned in #4. (If you’re interested in greenways and railtrails, a great website is the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy)
  7. Keep your dog on a leash/on your property. I like dogs. I really do. But when a lot of dogs see someone running through their “territory” (and for dogs, this seems to include the road in front of their house) something instinctual kicks in and the chase is on. There are the scary dogs who need to be leashed/fenced for MY safety, but then there are all the nice puppies who just want to play, and could very well follow me 8 miles away from your house. I can’t be responsible for keeping them safe and getting them home, and it breaks my heart when one starts following me and I don’t know where it lives.
  8. Obey track etiquette. I finally thought of another one to add!!! (05/23) I’ll get to 10 eventually. 🙂 IF you are at a track, and IF you are (1) watching high school football practice or (2) walking around the track for exercise, and IF there are runners running series of laps at faster-than-normal speeds…please, PLEASE move to the outside lanes. It will prevent you from getting bumped, jostled, or freaked out by a near-stampede, and it will satisfy the peace of mind of those semi-serious, crazy runners.

5 responses

  1. You definitely nailed some of the essentials here.

    WRT dogs, I see that every time I’m out with my dog. Dog chases dog, and somehow people are incredulous when their “mental leash” on their dog don’t work. (I’m thinking the mental part is in effect but that is about it). I’ve had two dogs follow me all the way home, through the garage and into the back yard. One of those had a tag and I called the owner who came and picked him up. The other went to the pound after a few days. And one little spool of white fluff had a name tag with an address, and realizing I was only a block away, I took him home. The rest of them should have a sign reading “shoot me, my owner don’t care” 🙂 Heck I even have my dog chipped for identification of last resort. But mostly I make sure she don’t get out.

  2. Mental leash. Chuckle. Maybe in 1 of ever 100 dogs could that actually work. Until they see a squirrel, or other dog…

    One time a very nice dog followed me through a 7 mile hill workout. When he got back to the house with me, I noticed he had a collar so I chained him up and gave him some water while I called the number on the tag. It was for a vet’s office THREE COUNTIES AWAY! Apparently the dog had been given to someone who gave him to someone who gave him to someone…and that last someone didn’t seem overly concerned with the dog. When I finally reached them on the phone, they said, “Just turn him loose, and he’ll find his way home.” Excuse me, what???

  3. I love your 7 tips and advice for runners. I agree about the dog one. My sister had to pepper spray a dog one time while out on a jog because it was going to attack her. It is good for runners to carry some kind of “protection” or weapon just in case they encouter an attacker (human or animal).

  4. Hi Megan

    Great post! It’s a nice change of perspective – I especially appreciate the 1st point. I remember in one race there was a very elderly gentleman standing on the side of the road with an old fashioned tape recorder playing Chariots of Fire and encouraging all the runners. It made me smile for at least the next 2 kms. I still can’t believe that people give up their time to come out to support runners. 🙂

    At kdays.com I host the Running Blog Carnival.

    This post was included in the Running #2008-06 edition.


  5. Thanks for the comment and the link, Kerrin! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂 It’s been building in my head for the last, oh, 10 years or so. Ever since a friend brought his trumpet to a cross country meet and played the Chariots of Fire theme for me.

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