Lots of road runners seem to be making the jump to trail running. This is a great thing! Unfortunately many of these runners carry some bad road running habits over to the trails. Here’s a quick and dirty (pun intended) guide for new trail runners to help fit in:
1. Don’t be afraid of dirt. I’ve watched runners in squeaky-white sneakers tiptoe around a tiny mud puddle. I’ve seen new trail runners on the verge of vomiting when watching a veteran trail runner bomb through knee-deep mud. These are trails. We get dirty. It’s a badge of honor. Wear it with pride.
2. Don’t litter. Ever. Don’t toss that Gu packet on the ground. Throw your cup in the aid station waste basket. Don’t blow your nose and throw the tissue on the trail. Someone has to pick up after you, and it’s douchey to expect volunteers to clean up after your mess. It may be acceptable to toss your shit anywhere on the roads, but we live by a different code out here. Respect the environment.
3. If someone needs help, help them. If another runner is in obvious pain, lost, crying, or otherwise in distress, stop and help. I’ve watched the leaders of trail races stop to help others even if they lose their position. We take care of each other. It’s the decent human thing to do.
4. If taking a leak or dropping a deuce- get off the trail. This one needs no explanation.
5. Be courteous when passing or getting passed. When passing another runner on a single track, the passing runner should say something along the lines of “passing on the left”, then pass OFF THE TRAIL. The runner being passed, when hearing this, may step off to the right and allow the faster runner to pass. Only then is it acceptable for the passing runner to remain on the trail. If a runner approaches from behind, it’s courteous to acknowledge their presence and ask them if they’d like to pass. Also, always remember- those going faster always yield to those going slower. That means all runners yield to horses.
6. Thank volunteers. They’re giving their time to YOU. Be grateful. Say thanks. Give them a high-five. Joke around with them. Make them feel appreciated.
7. Don’t expect to be treated like a prima donna. You’re one of many runners running that particular race. Making unreasonable demands or expecting people to cater to your crazy-ass needs isn’t your divine right. In fact, it makes you look like an ass. And it ruins the day for those of us that want to have a good time.
8. Be humble. No matter what you do, someone has went longer or done it faster. It’s okay to be proud of your accomplishments, but don’t talk about them incessantly. Instead of starting a conversation by bragging about your accomplishments, ask others about theirs. You might learn something. The only time it’s acceptable to bring up your accomplishments is to put a bragging douche in their place. Even then, use it sparingly.
9. Smile. If you’re frowning, grimacing, or expressing any other negative emotion (aside from pain if it’s a long race), you’re doing it wrong. Cheer up little buckaroo… you’re surrounded by awesome people and breath-taking nature. Trail running is about camaraderie and mutual support. It’s about being a small part of something bigger than yourself. That’s what makes it special. You can make your contribution by kicking back, taking it easy, and going with the flow.
Have any more tips to add?