Running Pet Peeve #3


Running Pet Peeve #3: Wrong-Side Runners on the Trail

Typically, in most situations, almost always, vehicle drivers tend to stick to the appropriate side of the road—normally.  Exceptions to this rule may include police officers, firefighters, EMTs, roadside construction workers, the occasional car thief leading a high speed chase southbound on the I-5 North in LA complete with overhead news choppers—yes, that happens—and maybe drivers for marathon lead cars.  As of yet, I have not witnessed a fellow runner, wearing moisture wick shorts and a heart monitor, sprinting toward me on the wrong side of the path while being pursued by a squadron of on-foot police officers and helicopters buzzing overhead.  If I had, I may have given them a one-time pass for running on the wrong side of the trail.

If you are on a pedestrian/bike trail, path running mirrors road driving.  If you drive your car on the right side of the road, then move your bootie on the right side of the trail.  Imagine driving a winding country road at night where overhanging branches of surrounding trees blot out the pale moonlight.  As you steer around a sharp corner, the high beams of an oncoming car blind you and spook the silent deer grazing on the weedy roadside.  You wouldn’t want to bash into a deer that way and you wouldn’t want to smack into a fellow runner either.  Turning a trail corner and running straight into an unwary person on the wrong side of the path could possibly, by chance, very likely, most definitely put a serious hitch in your training schedule.

If the oncoming right-side runner effectively navigates around the wrong-side runner, the right-side runner faces multiple risks.  They may expend extra energy, lose their rhythm, get hit by a cyclist, or potentially trip on trailside detritus like rocks, broken glass, half-eaten protein bars, and periodic roadkill along the bike path.

Regulations differ for running along a vehicle road, but as for trail running, don’t let your fellow runner end up in the ditch or slip on a dead squirrel.  Run on the right-side.

**Watch my blog for future postings of Running Pet Peeves.  Even better, share yours below in the comments.**


3 thoughts on “Running Pet Peeve #3

  1. Hello Nat, my first comment on your blog and I respectfully have to disagree – at least as regards convention in the UK. Generations of schoolchildren (though not apparently the present generation) were taught, where there is no pavement/sidewalk, to walk facing the oncoming traffic. Also the Highway Code (Rule 2) instructs pedestrians to do this. The logic is that you, the pedestrian/runner, can more easily see what traffic is approaching and act accordingly.
    Of course I can’t comment on the situation in the US.
    Best wishes, look forward to following your blog.


  2. Hi Roy – Thank you for your point of view. This post does not address running on vehicle roads – it specifically addresses bike/pedestrian path/trail running where vehicles are typically not present. I will update it to be more specific. Question for you – does the UK have running etiquette for trail/path running? thanks


  3. Ah, apologies Nat. Thanks for the clarification. And, to your question, no there’s no protocol. It’s only really a problem where cyclists are involved though.
    But, going back to the ‘rules of the road’ I’m afraid that no one much pays attention to them either, which is one of my pet peeves 🙂


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