The rules of running in a race

Racing this weekend? Or maybe thinking about registering for an upcoming 5-K or half-marathon? Entering a foot race is one of the most satisfying things a runner can do. That you must train is obvious. But there are also non-running bits of etiquette you need to know to make the most of your experience-without embarrassing yourself or annoying anyone else. Here are guidelines to follow for your next event from "The Runner's Rule Book" by Runner's World executive online editor Mark Remy.

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1. Pay your way Bandit a race-that is, run it without registering, and you're stealing, pain and simple. Running is free. Racing is not.

2. Bib numbers go on the front The piece of paper with your race number on it goes on the front of your shirt, not the back. Otherwise you'll look like a bandit to race officials and race photographers won't be able to identify you.

3. Line up where you belong You know about how fast you can expect to run on any given day. Be honest with yourself and your fellow runners and line up at the appropriate pace signs or groups if the race has them.

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4. Remove your hat for the national anthem Manners and common courtesy apply, even during a race and even if your hat is made of technical sweat-wicking fabrics.

5. Don't rattle, beep, or jingle As a courtesy to those around you, leave the watch that beeps with every step at home and make an effort to secure the stuff in your pockets or waist pack. Nobody wants to run next to someone who sounds like a metronome or a giant box of Tic Tacs.

Learn the unspoken principles of running

6. Stay on the course Don't hop the curb, run on the sidewalk, or otherwise leave the course to shave a few seconds off your time. Yes, that is cheating. And yes, it does matter.

7. Move over before stopping To avoid a collision, move to the side of the road before putting on the brakes at a water stop, to tie a shoelace, or to take a walk break. This also applies to the finish line; keep walking through the finish chute.

8. Look before you expel If you need to spit, blow, or hawk, first make sure the area around you is reasonably clear of others.

9. Try not to litter You should at least make an effort to toss your water cup and other garbage in the trash cans along the course. If you miss, it's not the end of the world; keep moving. And look before you throw a water cup-you don't want to soak the people around you.

10. Save the race shirt for after the race Wearing the official race shirt during the race is like wearing a U2 t-shirt to a U2 concert. Not cool. Don't do it.

More race-day tips

So, what is your biggest racing pet peeve? Is it something I didn't mention here?

Susan Rinkunas is an associate editor at Runner's World, a magazine (and website) that informs, advises, and motivates runners of all ages and abilities-and we mean it. Her blog on Yahoo! Shine offers tips on running technique, nutrition and weight loss, shoes and apparel, and balancing fitness and life.

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