Should You Offer Race Day Advice To A Runner?

Find out whether you should share knowledge with beginners at the starting line.


Etiquette expert Lizzie Post, great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post, knows a thing or two about the rules of the road—and the descendant of the famous decorum diva is a runner too!

Q: If you spot someone with a wrong pair of shoes ready to run a race (like road shoes at a trail race), should you say something for safety reasons?

This is a tough one, because you may cause someone to have anxiety right before the race (which is never good) even though your concern is for her safety. It’s best to trust that this person will learn by her own experience.

You are certainly not responsible, and while that’s not the reason to avoid telling her, it’s usually best not to offer advice that wasn’t asked for. It’s one thing to warn a runner who is staring at the sky while on the trail that they are headed for a rock or tree, but inserting yourself into her choice of footwear is going a bit far. If she asks about shoes or gear, go ahead and let her know; but if not, just stick to focusing on your own race.

Have a question for Lizzie? Email or tweet @womensrunning with the hashtag #ProperForm.

Related: Trail Shoe Lingo You Need To Know