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Trail running is food for the eyes, the body and the soul. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned veteran of running in general, it’s always a good idea to remind ourselves trail running etiquette and good trail citizenship.
Here are a few rules to follow next time you hit the trails:
- Look up and enjoy the trail. Is it smooth? Rooty? Rocky? Hilly? Flat? Take it all in and breathe. Maybe take a picture or two of the trail, and then…
- …TAKE THE OBLIGATORY SELFIE, but be mindful of others around you.
- Allow people to press ahead if they need to. Move to your right and allow people to pass on your left.
- If you need to pass someone, let people know. Say, “On your left” or “On your right.” Some folks barrel right through and scare the bejeesus out of folks, making the trail running experience less than optimal. Please announce yourself!
- Give support and encouragement when needed. A “Nice work!” or “Way to crush that hill!” can be just what folks need that moment.
- If you wear headphones (and that is YOUR choice to make) make sure you have some way of hearing and being aware of what’s going on around you so you don’t pose a danger to other people or yourself.
- Some people LOVE to chat on the trail. Others, not so much. Be aware and take cues. I’m especially chatty myself in the early miles of a race but I am fully aware that others are trying to get in their zone. I try not to disturb the zone building. I get it. My zone-building happens about 10-13 miles in. But really, don’t try to talk to me on an uphill—it will always end in gasps for air and incomplete sentences filled with uncomfortable gaps and heavy breathing. Thanks.
- Thank the volunteers, ALL OF THEM. People are taking time out of their day to support you. Remember your manners, even when you have crashed and bonked and have nothing left to give.
- Don’t litter. NEVER EVER LITTER. If you come from any kind of running background in which throwing water cups and other things on the ground is acceptable, um….let go of that. LEAVE NO TRACE. PACK IT IN, PACK IT OUT. Race directors depend heavily on the trust and generosity of state and national forest folks, and if the powers that be discover that there is litter (used gels, cups you forgot to throw out at the aid station, beer bottles at the campground, Twizzler wrappers, etc.) left over from an event, they’re less likely to issue permits and then your race won’t happen. That is the WORST CASE SCENARIO and no one wants that to happen. Think New Orleans the day after Mardi Gras… not a trace of the debauchery that ended a few short hours ago: squeaky clean and suspiciously void of the smell of alcohol. Just don’t look up in into the trees. But I digress…
- Remember why you’re out there. Trying to PR? Just going for a run? Enjoying the greenery? Socializing with people you only see once a year? To marvel at nature? Enjoy yourself, breathe again. Run.