We've all heard of race etiquette, but paying it forward takes your best race day manners a step further. Positive actions not only affect your performance, but they also impact others. It's not always all about us, after all. Why not try to share the race day love with others?
With that in mind, I try to have as much fun as possible whether I'm gunning for a PR or just using the race as a training run. Here are five simple actions (that don't take any extra effort) I have learned to prioritize whenever I pin on a race bib:
Acknowledge the volunteers.
First and foremost, most races would not happen if it weren't for the many volunteers working at the races. Many of them are runners themselves, who are giving up the opportunity to run that very race so others can run it instead. Make eye contact and say "thank you" when someone hands you a cup of water. Try to smile when you're handed your bib at the expo. Give a thumbs-up to the course marshals directing traffic. Bottom line, let them know their commitment to the race is valuable and appreciated.
Interact with fellow racers.
I realize not everyone wants to carry on a conversation or make friends along a race course...but there may be that one first-time racer who needs reassurance. I always appreciate other runners telling me "good job" or "looking strong" or "girl power!" I try to pay it forward and share a word of encouragement with others.
Respect the race course.
Even though it is a race course, it may also be someone's neighborhood. Often times, there are trash cans at the water/aid stations....make an effort to use them. At the very least, try to throw your empty cups to the side of the road instead of directly underfoot. If you have trash (or even a throwaway shirt or jacket to discard), consider tossing it near a mile marker sign (since a volunteer will inevitably have to come by to retrieve the sign and they can grab your cast-offs then).
Do unto others. In other words, be mindful of your fellow racers. Try to not run (or walk) in a cluster of friends. Look over your shoulder before pulling over to the side of the road. Line up according to your authentic pace (not necessarily your targeted pace, especially if the weather is unusually hot or the course is challenging). Think twice about grabbing that extra cup of water to dump on your head when there may be others who could drink it.
High-5 the kids along the route (you may inspire them to become runners). Smile (or pose) for the on-course photographers. Wave to the road-side spectators (and take the time to read their encouraging signs). Thank the police officers and military personnel for their service. Be grateful for the race and all the people who came out to support the participants (instead of sleeping-in).
I'm linking this with Meranda and Lacey and Rachel for the Friday Five 2.0.