I did mention in my earlier post, Running is simple.
You don't need a room full of pricey equipment or to phone in advance for a tee time. Running doesn't even require much skill—nothing could be easier. Naturally, there are tons of rules. Not for the act of running itself, but about the code, largely unspoken, that governs behavior and informs decisions in situations that every runner encounters sooner or later. These are guidelines to make running a little bit happier, healthier, and more fun for everyone. Because the first rule of running is just that: Have fun.
No other fact is so fundamental to running: Done properly, running is fun. Even when you do it improperly, running is still inherently, liberating fun. If you doubt this, just spend a few minutes watching a child or a dog in any wide open space. Their glee is instinctual and undeniable. Enjoy it. After all, there aren't many animal impulses that we can act on in public without getting arrested.
Expand Your Sense of Fun
As a runner, your definition of fun must be, well, let's just say broadened and might include:
Waking up at 5:30 a.m. to run 20km
Running in blistering heat
Running in the rain
Running in 400-meter circles
Feeling as if your lungs are about to explode
Paying good money for the privilege of turning your toenails black
Any combination of the above
Black Toenails Are Badges of Honor
Run long enough and you'll wind up ruining a toenail or two. Whether it's because your shoes are too big or too small or because you've run a race with punishing downhills or the toenail gods happen to be in a foul mood, someday you will peel off your socks and see black where once there was pink. Congratulations! These bruised nails are tiny trophies conferred upon you for toughing it out. Just don't flash them in public.
Let Angry Motorists Go
I understand the impulse when a driver has just pulled out in front of you or turned directly in your path or otherwise behaved like a jerk. I know how much you'd love to slap the trunk of that driver's car, or shout at the person behind the wheel, helpfully suggesting that he or she "learn to drive." Or showing him the finger. Do yourself—and all runners—a favor and fight that impulse. Smile. Your lashing out isn't likely to change the driver's behavior, and may, in fact, worsen it. For all you know, the still-seething guy may drive extra close to the next runner he sees, just to make a point. Let him go.
The Open-Ended Question Is Your Friend
Running with someone who's faster than you? Is this person oblivious to your gasping? If so, it's time to deploy that surefire weapon of struggling runners everywhere: Ask the offending speedster a question so broad, he or she could spend 10 minutes answering it. And just might! This is particularly useful on long hills.
"Say, how's the job?"
"Any vacation plans this year?"
For Pete's Sake, Stand Still at Red Lights
Sharks die when they stop moving. Runners do not. There's no need to jog in place or dance from foot to foot like you have to pee. Just chill. Wait a few moments. Note: If a nonrunner waiting with you at the crosswalk is dancing from foot to foot, he or she may indeed have to pee. Give this person wide berth.
Looking good!"...and other runners' lies
Lying is not something we normally endorse. But it's perfectly acceptable to tell a runner that he is looking good at mile 19 of a marathon when, in fact, he looks like an insomniac who's trying to sneeze, and is confused because someone has switched his running shoes with replicas made of concrete. The go-to lie is "Looking good!" Or you could say, "If I weren't so awed by the apparent ease with which you're navigating this course, I might be angry with you for nearly knocking me unconscious with your very awesomeness!" The key is to say something. Even a zombie appreciates encouragement.
Pass Gas, Not Judgment
Runners ingest a fair amount of healthy foods, which produce gas in the GI tract, where it cannot stay forever. Especially when that GI tract is bounced and jostled. Passing gas while running is excusable and inevitable, but... You may not mock another runner for having passed gas, unless he has previously mocked you for the same or unless he mocks himself. If a runner has taken pains to mask flatulence, pretend nothing happened. It's fun to pretend that the gas you expelled is propelling you forward, like a little booster rocket. That isn't really a guideline, though, is it?
Never Miss a Chance To Thank a Volunteer
Even if you're running the race of your life, you can still manage a bit of eye contact and a nod as you grab a cup of water from an outstretched hand. Even if it feels like your quads are quite literally on fire, you can manage to sputter a short "thanks" to the course marshal standing in the intersection. It will make the volunteer feel good. And you, too.