Track Etiquette: Fear The Oval No More


Follow these simple rules when you step on the oval.

Written by: Linzay Logan

The track can be a scary place for those of us who have not ventured out to the oval loop filled with long-legged, spandex-wearing, fast people. The intimidation factor alone is what has deterred me from ever taking a step on it. I always figured there had to be some code that only track-goers know and to get that code you have to be a tall and fast real runner. Lacking in height and speed, I have never gotten the low-down on the track.

After consulting friends and speed demons around the Competitor office I have come up with a cheat sheet for those of you wanting to try out the track. Follow these simple rules once you step on the oval and you’ll be a speed demon in the first lane in no time.

-Arrive early to warm up and stretch.

-Always run counterclockwise.

-The lanes of a track are like lanes on a freeway. The inside lanes on the left are reserved for faster runners. The lanes farther to the right are for the not-so-fast runners and walkers.

-Leave your iPod at home.

-Always pay attention to runners around you when you are starting and stopping.

-Try not to run more than two people abreast (shoulder to shoulder) so you aren’t blocking the way for faster runners.

-Move to the right if you hear someone yelling “track” or “on your left.” This signals that a runner is coming up on your left to pass you.

-If you are lapped, move to the third or fourth lane.

-Always look both ways before crossing the track.

-Do no stand on the track.

Tonight will be my first track session. And to tell you the truth I am scared to death. I’m fighting through this fear though and will tell you to do the same. Get out there and run with the almighty fast ones. Maybe one day you’ll get to join that elite fast people club that made up these rules.


Linzay Logan is the copy editor for Competitor magazine and cares about punctuation probably a little too much. She particularly loves to avoid commas as well as add exclamation points whenever she can get away with it! She also loves to run marathons and half-marathons—probably a little too much. Don’t let her small size fool you; she’ll still try to outrun you anytime. Even though chances are she probably can’t.

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