I never seem to think about manners as it pertains to racing until the first few miles of a race. Off days, practice runs, even group runs….the thought never crosses my mind. It’s not until those first few miles of a race that I always think I need to write these rules down so that everyone knows what is appropriate and best for the racing field. So here is my take on proper racing etiquette.
1. Don’t jump corrals.
Corrals are set up for a reason. They have a purpose. And you should be honest when submitting your anticipated finish time. By jumping corrals or putting a faster finish time than you can do; you are hurting those runners that worked hard to get into that corral. You will slow the race field down. The beginning of a race is crowded to begin with so it makes it more difficult to have to navigate around slower runners.
2. Don’t spit in the crowds.
Yes, I have felt spit on me on more than one occasion. Despite what you think of your accuracy, there is always a wind or crowd factor. If you need to spit, move to the edge and spit on sidewalk and ensure no one else is coming up next to you.
3. Watch the elbows.
Why people run with really wide elbows I’ll never know. But they do. In that case, be cautious of the people around you. Don’t try to pass a herd of tightly packed runners with wide elbows. Yeah, it hurts to get hit in the chest with your bony elbow.
In running, you need to learn to be flexible. There are always things that happen out of your control that you must learn to deal with. The more races you run, the better prepared you’ll be. I couldn’t prepare myself for the cancellation of the NYC Marathon this year. No one could. Like thousands of others, I was physically and mentally prepared to run 26.2 miles on November 4th, 2012. Only to be disappointed when it was cancelled at the last minute.
The NYC Marathon is one of the largest in the world. People come from all over the world to compete. It’s an honor just to get selected via the lottery system. I couldn’t believe I was chosen the first time I applied. I knew at that point I had to run it. Nothing was going to stop me. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to run this elite race. Immediately after I found out I was selected, I booked my hotel room, formulated a training plan, and got to work.
As runners we typically set out to achieve one milestone and as soon as we conquer that, we find ourselves looking for another challenge. Every time I run a race, I think about my next race. Is it going to be longer distance? Am I going to aim to get a PR? I recently reached my goal of completing a marathon and prior to that day I thought that I’d be done after I crossed the finish line. I thought I’d do shorter races and look to improve my time. And I’d get to say goodbye to rigorous training schedules and long Saturday morning runs. But during that 26.2 mile run there was a part of me that wanted more. My goal was to finish the marathon that day. But I knew I could run the race faster. I thought….I could qualify for the Boston marathon. In my mind, I didn’t even need to run Boston, I just wanted to qualify. (Ask me again after I run my qualifying marathon if I’ll do Boston.)
As runners, we’re never satisfied with our last accomplishment. There’s always more. There’s always another PR to go after. And that kind of determination is what makes us runners.