Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Up For Debate: "Passing!"

A few weeks ago, one of the women in my online running group posted this story about a Negative Nancy she encountered during a trail race:
This led to a bit of a debate in the comments (all very cordial, of course).

Most of us were surprised that Negative Nancy was obviously so offended at being warned that she was being passed. Isn't it good etiquette to warn runners that you're passing, especially on a narrow trail?

Some runners, however, opined that they never warn that they're passing, especially in a trail race because headphones usually aren't allowed and their upcoming footsteps can be heard clearly. Still others said they only warn that they're passing if there's limited space to do so. A couple said that they cough or purposely make noise to passively warn runners they're coming, but rarely fully announce themselves.

Originally, I felt like I warn people when I'm passing 90% of the time. But the more I thought about it, I realized that that's not true. I only warn people if I'm going to have to make a narrow dodge between them, or if they begin to meander into my path at the last minute.
Then of course I got to thinking about the fact that announcing rarely works out anyway, since people only have a split second to react, and then this happens.
Either way, passing is necessary sometimes, and announcing you're passing isn't meant to be rude. But is it necessary?

Negative Nancy may have been having a bad day, or maybe the original "Passing!" comment sounded harsh because some of us tend to shout when we're running without meaning to. (I'm pretty sure I announced at the top of my lungs, "I'm stuffing ice down my shorts!" at BDR last weekend.) Maybe she was new to trail racing - or racing in general - and didn't know the etiquette; she may have felt singled out. There are many reasons for her overreaction, but the question remains: is announcing that you're passing necessary etiquette, or not?

What do you guys think? Do you announce when you're passing other runners? Do you prefer to be warned if you're going to be passed?



megan @ meg go run said...

As I was reading the women's story, I was thinking, "Hmmm I just had a similar conversation with someone," and then I remembered we were discussing this!!

I think generally if it is a tight squeeze it is polite to say you are passing. No one should ever get offended by that! "On your left" should be in every trail runner's vocab. If it is not a tight squeeze, and it is a race where people are aware that there are other people on the trail, then maybe announcing it isn't needed. But I don't think it would be rude if someone did. Basically I think Negative Nancy got her panties in a bunch over nothing!

I do the cough thing on a little path that connects my neighborhood to a park because I don't want to scare someone!

Also, I am apparently a very stealth walker in our house. I'll go down to the basement (Paul's man cave) and dart around the corner to talk to Paul and I scare the crap out of him because he didn't hear me coming down the steps. So sometimes I bang on the wall as I come down the stairs so he knows I'm coming!

Kristina said...

Since a good chunk of my running path is heavily populated I often say "on your left" out loud. I usually have earbuds in, so I make a conscious effort to not shout. When I'm on the less popular part of the path I try just to make a noise - a small cough or clearing-the-throat type of noise. If people are walking 2 or 3+ across and they aren't paying attention I'll see if I can skirt around them and if not I'll call out 'on your left.'

This Negative Nancy story is odd because Nancy says that she called out "passing left" and so she must be aware that this is the normal etiquette. I bet the person who called out "PASSING" didn't mean to do it nastily. Perhaps he/she was listening to music, caught up in a deep though or shouted due to the intensity at which she was running. I understand Nancy's frustrations though as I can be super sensitive too.

Ali K. said...

The woman who shouted "Passing" rudely was, according to the original poster, doing it in a kind of mocking, rude way on purpose to "get her back" for announcing she was passing in the first place. The OP was announcing she was passing out of politeness, but the Negative Nancy took it personally and was rude about it when she had a chance to pass her back. But maybe neither of them were trying to be rude or mean about it, and in the heat of the race it just came out that way!

Ali K. said...

Matt is super stealthy that way too! Sometimes I'll be brushing my teeth and I turn and THERE HE IS! It can be a little unsettling haha.

Lizzy said...

I used to road cycle a lot more than I do now and in cycling, a good, loud "on your left" is standard practice. Sometimes when I'm running I fall back into that habit and I know I've startled a few people. I hope I haven't offended anyone. It's honestly just a.) old habits and b.) it can be really hard to regulate volume and tone when you are mid run! I think I often sound grouchy if I'm trying to say something while also out of breath. That said, I don't usually announce myself unless I feel like there might not be enough room or if I have some reason to believe the person isn't paying much attention, like if there is a group of people walking and talking.

It sounds to me like Negative Nancy and OP may have been caught up in some race-day emotions. I don't think there's reason to be upset about the situation.

NotRachem said...

I don't think it is rude to say you are passing at all! Who knows why Nancy was in such a bad mood. This reminds me of a race I ran last March where a girl who has been on my tail the entire race out kicked me in the last ten seconds. She yelled, "See ya!!" While basically pushing me out of the way and laughing. Joke was on her though because it was chip timing and I beat her! That's what you get for being rude. I believe that, as runners, we are all family, we should lift each other up, not push them down.

Jennifer Pabst said...

Not rude at all- pretty sure every runner knows to listen for "on your left"!


Ali K. said...

I always sound like I'm shouting mid-run. When I greet other runners, I always feel like they must think I was just screaming a "hello" for no reason haha!

Ali K. said...

Geez, the "see ya!" is totally not necessary! I guess some people just bring an attitude with them on race day sometimes.

Ali K. said...

That's what I think, too!