Occasionally, I see a runner on the wrong side of the road and I am tempted to pull over and lecture them on why they should be running against traffic,  not with it. Seems like common sense to me, but not everyone knows  the basic running rules, especially if they are new to running.

Here are 13 rules of running for when you’re out on the road or trail:

  1. Run against traffic. This is the best way to ensure cars see you—and you can see them. If a car comes from behind you, you may not know until it is too late.
  2. Stop at stop signs and make sure oncoming traffic stops before you cross. It’s the same as in a car. You never know. The driver could be distracted and miss the sign altogether.
  3. Don’t make a sudden u-turn during an out-and-back route. Stop, make sure oncoming traffic passes (or other runners, cyclists, etc.), then make your u-turn. A great tip from the Road Runners Club of America article “Etiquette for Runners.”
  4. Obey stop lights and cross walk signals, and be alert when crossing. Again, some drivers don’t think to look for pedestrians—especially before turning. Making eye contact with the driver is a good way to ensure you are seen.
  5. Don’t run down the middle of the trail (or the road), advises the RRCA article.
  6. Don’t wear head phones, and keep your head on a swivel (be aware of your surroundings). If you absolutely must run with music, at the very least, only use one earbud and keep the volume low so you can hear car noise, voices or animals (loose dogs, deer hooves, etc.).
  7. When running on a blind curve, try to get off of the road as much as possible and stay alert.
  8. If running in a group, don’t run more than two abreast. “Don’t be a road or trail hog,” the RRCA says.
  9. Choose your road-running route wisely. Try not to run on busy roads, or curvy roads with lots of blind turns, roads under construction or poorly maintained roads.
  10. Always carry identification, either a driver’s license or something like RoadID, a few dollars and your cell phone.
  11. Remember to tell someone where you are going and when you think you’ll be back, and try to run with a buddy.
  12. When running with a jogging stroller, use the safety strap. Use the safety strap even when you’re stopped and have the brake on. You don’t want your child accidentally rolling into traffic or down a hill off the side of the trail.
  13. When passing other runners, always give them a shout-out, “On your left!” before you pass. Say it loud—they may be wearing head phones.

For even more “rules to run by,” see Running Etiquette in the 2Toms Knowledge Base.