Every week I vow to stick to a Monday/Wednesday/Friday blogging schedule. And every week I fail due to time constraints or not having anything interesting to say. (Whether the content that actually makes it onto the blog is interesting is debatable). I’ve had this post on my mind for months and I felt more compelled than ever to finally write it after I collided with a woman during my track workout on Tuesday morning. Also, today (Saturday) is very cold and rainy and I have nothing better to do than to sit on the couch and vent online.
The outdoor track that I use 1-2 times a week is located within a mile from my apartment at a middle school. I like it because of its location and relaxed atmosphere. I also dislike it because of the relaxed atmosphere. Most of the other people there at 6 AM during the week fall into 2 camps:
- Personal training clients or Crossfitters. (I haven’t been able to figure out where these people come from but there’s a Crossfit box across the street so…).
One of the reasons I’ve hesitated to write this post is my fear of coming off as a holier than thou runner who wants everyone else to GOMT (Get Off My Track). That’s really not the case. I don’t care if other people are running or walking or doing jumping jacks or eating a five course meal at the track as long they’re not interfering with my workout. When the personal training clients/Crossfitters stand in a line across the track to do their jumping jacks, that’s interfering with my workout and it’s especially annoying because there’s a straightaway area (for the 100m run, I believe) where they can do this without getting in anyone’s way.
When I went to the track on Tuesday (1/6), it was the most crowded I’ve ever seen it, meaning that there were maybe 12-15 people there at any given time while I was there. I assume some people decided to make walking/running in circles a New Year’s resolution. Cool– me too! 12-15 people should be able to make that happen without colliding into each other. But it becomes a lot harder when people aren’t following basic track etiquette or, frankly, common sense.
Here are some things I, in my non-expert but very grumpy opinion, think people can do to make the track a happier place for everyone (read: mostly me):
- Don’t take your dog there. If you have to take your dog to the track, don’t let the leash extend all the way across the track. The last time I ran hurdles was in middle school, so it is hard for me to jump across the leash without falling on my face. Also, if your dog has an appetite for humans, please don’t bring him/her to the track. Or at least not when I’m there. (This tip was brought to you by the time someone’s dog almost bit my ankle).
- Walk/jog in the outside lanes. Once, after a track workout, I whined to the Gentleman about all of the walkers in the first lane of the track. “It’s Track Etiquette 101– even Runner’s World says so!” “I wouldn’t know to use the outermost lanes for walking,” he said. “But it’s the second rule on the big ass sign posted outside the entrance that everyone walks through to get to the track,” I countered. “Oh,” he replied. “Then I guess they should get out of your way.” Damn straight.
- Don’t switch lanes without looking behind you. This is what led to my epic crash on Tuesday. I was in the innermost lane, huffing and puffing my way through 800m at 8.0-8.5 mph when I saw a woman a little bit ahead of me veer into the innermost lane. “On your left!” I yelled as I approached. Either she didn’t hear me or decided that I wanted her to move further left because she stepped right in front of me and we collided. No one was hurt thankfully, but this could have been avoided if she’d checked to see if anyone was coming up behind her before switching lanes. It’s like what you do when you’re driving. (Or not, in which case: get off my roads!)
- Use music with caution. Walking/running in circles is boring. I get it. This is why I reserve my iPod for track and treadmill runs. I have a playlist of what most would consider horrible pop music that I deploy only during my nastiest track workouts. But I try to keep “Bang Bang” (I know, I know) and its ilk to a dull roar so I can hear the people around me. I think this is especially important given that the visibility at the track in the pre-dawn hours isn’t all that great.
- Don’t take up the whole track. This is directed at the Crossfitters/personal training clients/whoever the people are who have a coach and use the track for weird plyometric stuff. Go do that in the outermost lanes or off at the end of that 100m straightaway. There’s no need for each person to have their own lane in the middle of the track. Also, there’s no need for planking in the middle of the track.
- There is a “right” direction for running. Generally, people go counterclockwise. If there are numbers painted on the track, they should look upright when you approach them. At the track I use, sometimes people run or walk clockwise. Personally, I don’t really care what you do as long as you’re not in my way and you’re paying attention to your surroundings. Though when people are moving all willy nilly in different directions I imagine the track looks like a game of Pacman to anyone flying overhead:
Tell me about other annoying things people do at the track in the comments.