against the grain

for all the years that i’ve spent on the track, i’ve always been taught as well as seen executed, a specific track etiquette. faster runners stick to the inside lanes, slower runners to the outside lanes, run counter-clockwise and when you’re not running, you keep off the track.
last night, i had a really great 10x800m workout on the books. i showed up at corona del mar high school at about 4:30 and started into my warmup, about 2 miles, running counter clockwise on the outer lanes. i was the only person on the track, but as my warmup came to a close, a couple other folks, obviously from the neighborhood, showed up and started walking and jogging the track. clockwise. in the proper lanes.
i dove into the intervals, hitting my pace and feeling really good. about a third into the workout, though, a guy showed up on the track, running hard in the number two lane…running clockwise. it wasn’t too bad, since there was still some light in the sky and i could avoid him, but i kept thinking to myself, “is from some country where they run clockwise on the track?”. i just put it down to someone wanting to mix up his direction to prevent injury.
but then more and more people began showing up and running clockwise, in all lanes (except the #1). there were still about half of the people on the track following normal track etiquette, but the numbers of the anarchists was growing. during my recovery 200′s, i would step into the 3 or 4 lane to jog, and would have to dodge the oncoming runners. as the light grew dim, it became quite hazardous with a couple really close calls. one of the turns, the light was right in my eyes and i couldn’t see anyone oncoming until the last second. but, while in lane 1, i didn’t have any problems, so i wasn’t too frustrated. just more puzzled.
when i finished the intervals, i started into my cool down and moved out to the #9 lane, jogging along comfortably. at this point, there were about 30-40 of these folks either running the track clockwise or standing in big groups at one of the turns in lanes 9-5. each lap, i’d have to dodge the oncoming runners and weave in and out of the folks just standing around, chatting. they’d never take the initiative to move or even give notice that you were coming. the infuriating thing was that there was a HUGE cemented area right next to the track where they COULD have stood and stretched and bs’ed.
with each revolution i became more and more frustrated. i finally wanted to find out who these people were who had so little disregard for thier fellow runners, safety and common courtesy. as i jogged through the pack on the track, i asked who they were with and got no response. no response. wtf, mate? when i finished up my cooldown, i was finally able to shout a query to one of the runners and find out the name of their track club.
i took the time this morning to email my concerns to their organizer and i’m hoping that their routine can be explained so i can decide whether to return to that track or find a new place to run…because i sure don’t want to subject myself to that sort of experience again. i get enough of that chaos from the group swim, thankyouverymuch.

17 thoughts on “against the grain

  1. Jeff – I’m impressed you got through all that without mentioning their name :) How very frustrating that whole experience must have been. Geesh! I’ll have to stay away from that track on Tuesdays or at least be gone by 6PM…

  2. That’s insane! One of the tracks where I run has people going both ways but not the group chat sessions ON the track. How unbelievably rude.
    I hope your email gives them the hint they need but I suspect they are a group of people with an overblown sense of entitlement who will, virtually, spit on your shoes. Let us know what happens, please.

  3. Jeff, I’m stopping by to say Happy Thanksgiving! It’s been a long time since I’ve commented (though I still do stop by and read). Have a happy, happy weekend!

  4. The tri club that I am a member of (even though I didn’t do any tri’s this year) meets at a local track once a week. People generally get there early and warm up. A lot of people warm up and cool down in the “wrong” direction and then do the hard workout in the correct direction. Generally, however, they use the outer lanes to avoid these issues. There have been times, when the crowd waiting for the official workout to begin will collect on the outer edges of the track and are “in the way.” I think sometimes they get in their own world and just become oblivious to the rest of the world. It was good for you to send out the message. Hopefully, their fearless leader can remind them that the track is there for everyone to enjoy. I hope the response is favorable, otherwise, please post the name of the club and we will join you in the protest.

  5. Where I live, I’m always the only guy on the track…a dirt track that floods at one end every now and then. I guess I can’t complain about the other runners.

  6. how annoying! hope that this gets resolved, or that you find some place else to run, where runners are at least a bit polite.

  7. anarchists in Orange County – is that possible?
    It’s been a while, Jeff. I hope all is well. No hint here of your next big race. Is everthing geared toward IM Florida? That’s a long way off.

  8. being ignored and/or discounted is the most frustrating thing that can happen. it takes little effort to acknowledge someone and to be courtious. i’m curious to know what club it is now too.

  9. since it is a “waxing moon” people then go clockwise but when the moon is “full” you can’t run at all.

  10. ooh. jeff was really ticked off. did you see where he was using upper case letters to spell two words??!!
    i have the same issues on my track because i am often the anarchist. why? as you said, to minimize injury or give each side of me an equal workout in the corners.
    my challenge is avoiding the army reservists there doing their pt workouts.
    i always move out at least two lanes from 1 if i am going clockwise when approaching oncoming traffic. i see it as my responsibility since i am the non conformist.

  11. what a bunch of freaks! I would have karate chopped somebody… ;) Maybe if you had been wearing your cape, they would have taken more notice of you.

  12. Did you get a response from the track club? If not, go to the school administration that “hosts” the track and ask if they are aware of the situation. Track clubs rent use of high school tracks and I’m sure the contract stipulates safe behavior.

  13. You are better than me. I woulda said WTF as I ran past them…but then that’s how I “usually” get myself into so much trouble. Way to be adult about and email the track club. And really…how could 40 or so peeps get so very confused? (It happens to me sometimes at the base track, but then I just say “hey..walkers…it’s counter clockwise..” and they think I’m some stealth runner and know all the rules so they listen to me…or at least that’s what I tell myself :)

  14. I run into similar problems at the pool with bozos that don’t understand lane etequite. The ones that really annoy me are those that insist on hanging on to the ropes. I don’t know how many times I’ve scrapped my arms cause someone insists on hanging onto them.
    All the best with your training in 2007.

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