Get out the door

Indoor Track Etiquette

Here are a few tips inspired by my real-life indoor track experiences for how to go about working out on an indoor track.

  • Look for posted rules and obey them.  Some tracks go certain directions on different days to help mix it up.  Usually the more inside lanes are for faster runners, while the outside lanes for slower runners and walkers on the outside.
  • Most indoor tracks are pretty small (3-5 lanes wide) and can get crowded easily, so it’s definitely considered rude to run two or more people abreast (side by side).  It can make it difficult for people to get around you.  If the track isn’t very busy, it’s no problem.  Just be aware of others and make sure it’s not a task for them to get around you.  On busier days, consider taking turns leading every couple of laps or so (or miles?) with your running partner(s) as to not block up the runway for others.
  • If you have to go against the grain for any reason, try and say out of peoples’ way.
  • It’s cool to wear headphones, but make sure you are still able to be aware of your surroundings and others who are around you.
  • It’s not uncommon (and probably natural) to want to cut in lanes while running the corners (especially if the track has banked turns), but don’t do it blindly!  There could be other runners already in that lane trying to run by.  Just as you would while driving a car, check your blind spot before switching lanes.
  • If you’re going to make a significant change in pace that may affect others around you (aka going from running to walking abruptly), pull out to the outer lanes to the slower/walker area, or at least check behind you to make sure you’re not going to cause someone to run into the back of you.
  • Don’t expect to do any sort of structured speed work at peak hours.  The local indoor tracks that I’ve run on has “no speed workouts” as one of the posted rules, which is most likely more or less making it a better environment for a crowd of people to work out.  If you want to do speed, either do it very early in the morning or late at night, or whenever else the track is as empty as possible.  This way roaring by other runners isn’t such an issue.
  • Don’t run shirtless (indoor tracks are so tiny, you’re bound to sweat on someone who won’t enjoy it) and don’t go barefoot (imagine what might be on those floors…).
  • If you’re not used to banked corners, take it easy until you’re legs get used to them.  You will feel it.  (Although, once you get used to them, if you’re anything like me, you’ll feel like a little race car zooming around them!)
  • No spitting or snotting openly.  Save it for a trash or fountain (a lot of gyms/tracks have spit-specific fountains!).

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