How to Guide Someone on the Run

Running is usually a cold, solitary activity, but if you’re the type to think too much about your social interactions, it poses several problems as well. The first is what you do when you bump into another runner approaching you (you nod or give a half wave ). Another, more difficult question is what to do when you are about to bypass someone else.

Sometimes this person is a different runner; in other cases, it is a person just walking in the park, maybe with his dog or a group of friends. Here’s how to get through politely.

Select side

Usually (in the US) we go left whenever possible – just like changing lanes to overtake someone on a highway.

But it depends on the specific situation. If the person you are passing is standing right at the edge of a road or an obstacle such as a fence, it is unwise to try to squeeze through it. Also consider if there is a security or courtesy reason to choose one side over the other. If there is a child or dog to the left of them, plan to go to the right.

Adjust the speed

Chances are, you have a target pace for your running and want to keep it on average. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend a few minutes slowly overtaking someone running at 10:00 and you running at 9:45.

When you are within a reasonable distance from the person, be ready to make a move. You will want to accelerate to get around them effectively, being careful not to do so at the same time as another distraction such as a passing car.

State yourself politely

The correct way to get around someone is to shout “to your left!” if you come up to the left of the person, but not everyone can process these words in the fractions of a second required for your approach. They may just hear “… left!” and not sure if you drive on the left, or they must move to the left. (There is also a non-trivial number of people who take a second or two to remember which side of the left.) Runners from Reddit agree : Almost half of the time, people accidentally step on the road.

A good way to get around this dilemma is to assert yourself a little further (to give the person more time) and then see which direction they are going. Cheerful “Good morning!” might help, or something like “Sorry!” or “Come after you!”

Some runners enjoy deliberately rubbing their boots on the ground, coughing or clearing their throat – whatever it takes to make the person aware that you are catching up. But if you want to be a joker, there is always “BEE!” or “Hot soup is coming!”


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