How to Start A Race & Running Etiquette Rules

Posted on Mar 31, 2008 under Training | 3 Comments

Is this how you run in a race? If so you need to learn how to start a race and follow some rules on running and racing etiquette. Try to follow them to avoid being called a “Phoebe” during your race.

Race Stance/Ready Position
When you run, you are alternating between right arm with left leg and left arm with right leg. So when you are about to start a race and you lead your right leg out, do NOT have your right arm out. Try running with your right arm and right leg and vice versa. It is very awkward and does not work. So when you position yourself to do that, you just slow yourself down in the beginning adjusting. It may not make that much of a difference, but it’s still good to do it the right way from the beginning.

Lead the Race with ATP
It’s the first six seconds of a race, what do you do? Run like there’s no tomorrow. I don’t really know the science behind it, but when a race starts, you have about 6 seconds or so of ATP, which is stored in your muscles that gives you more energy than you normally will have (I guess it’s like a rush of adrenaline). You can only use this in the beginning of a race and it will have no affect on the rest of the race, but you cannot “save” it for the end or anything. Once that 6 seconds of ATP runs out, run the pace you would normally run in a race. This helps you gain an advantage on your opponents who do not use their ATP efficiently and get a better position in the race.

Race Lineups
It might be better to have a diagram, but the concept is pretty simple. When we raced in high school in big invitational races, teams had to be in one line behind each other at the starting line. What we tried doing was position ourselves so that as many runners on our team were in front of the other teams.

So we had our #2-3 (or lower) runners in front of our #1 runner in the line and using the ATP that we had at the beginning of the race, we #2 would run in a diagonal and get in front of the #1 runner of the team to the left, and #3 would do the same to get in front of the team on the right. This would clear the path for our #1 runner with an opening straight ahead.

I don’t know if this is a proven strategy, but I always thought it was an interesting game plan.

Praise Other Runners
It is common courtesy to cheer others when you are on a run, maybe not during a race just because of the nature of the event. But when you are training, it should be pretty easy to tell someone “good job”. It’s even better to do a little more cheerleading if you have completed your run or race and really cheer your friend/teammate to the finish line. Think about it: “Do not do unto others as you would expect they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.” How encouraging is it when you are tired and want to stop, but you have others keeping you motivated?

Group Runs
When you are running in a group, try to make room for everyone. The trail that we ran on was literally a horse trail, but from years of running there was a hardened path along the middle of that trail. The sides were reasonable to run on as well, so we were able to fit three wide. Don’t be selfish and hog the running lane to yourself.

If it is really necessary to spit, please do so to the side where an innocent runner will not be vulnerable for an attack. The last thing you want is to be spit on during a run.

Pedestrians USUALLY have the right of way
If you are running on a route that has stop lights for cars, make sure you do not get hit by any cars. The trail that we ran on crossed streets, but had no street lights, so it was important for us to look both ways before we crossed. I have to admit there have been days where I have been honked at, but from my perspective, I knew I was far enough ahead as to not get hit. This is probably a situation for many runners out there.

Learn to Tie your Shoes
Most runners follow the double-knot rule, but even using those precautions, your shoelaces get untied once in a while. If that ever happens, do not stop dead in your tracks, for obvious reasons. There may be someone right behind you without enough time to react or you will cause runners behind to have to move out of the path to avoid you, which is just like a hurdle in a race.

If you don’t want to lose your group, you can try to speed up for a little bit and stop ahead of everyone while you tie your shoes and hopefully that gap is enough to keep you within range to catch up.

Be Aware of Others
In any big race there is a high chance of some trample action going on, I know I have seen it in my years of racing. This is why it is important to be aware of other runners (especially in the beginning of the race). Yes, you may be in the “zone” and everything, but with any situation, you need to be aware of your surroundings and what is going on.

On a similar note, do not try to cut people off during the race, or during the finish. You may be dying and about to get outkicked, but it is not cool to try and cut them off. You will likely get disqualified too. This is more prominent in track, just because everything is shorter, but still happens in longer distance races as well.

Don’t Tailgate/Follow Too Closely
You may try to get as close as possible when you are drafting someone, but if you aren’t careful, you may get kicked with the bottom of the runner’s shoe. And if they are wearing spikes, it will sting and definitely ruin any rhythm you gained.

Also watch your elbows when you run, you may end up running next to someone who is not as forgiving as you hope. And if an official sees, you may also get disqualified. And you look like a fool, see the video for more information.

These are just some tips and advice that I picked up while running and training for high school cross country. Some of these rules on how to start a race and running etiquette rules may not be applicable to any running situation that you encounter and you may have tips of your own that you’d like to share. Please do so, as I am not the official running etiquette commissioner.

3 Responses to “How to Start A Race & Running Etiquette Rules”

  1. baby Says:

    Nice website!!


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