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I often find myself catching slower runners/walkers up when out exercising and occasionally give people a shock if they don't hear me approaching.

What is a polite way to alert someone that you are catching them up?

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I find three things to be helpful:

  1. When you're within about 20 feet (5 meters) hold that pace for 20-30 seconds. This will give them a better chance to hear you behind them, and you can wait for a good spot in the road/trail to pass. And there's a chance that they'll take a turn you're not planning on making, and you won't have to pass. Holding for too long (or too close), though, could be creepy, so don't overdo it!
  2. Call out "on your [left/right]" as you pass, just as you would do if you were biking.
  3. Give them a wide berth. Go into the opposite lane on a path to pass, or on a narrow sidewalk, you can go into the road to pass (traffic permitting).
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    The "on your left" call-out, much like with a horn honk or bicycle bell, can be quite jarring for the person being passed (and can lead to mild resentment of "what are they in such a hurry for? Are they saying I'm slow?"), but it's the best alternative.
    – Sean Duggan
    Mar 28, 2022 at 13:20
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    Personally, I find "on your left" to be considerate -- I prefer being spoken to, to being honked at or having a bell jingled at me like a cat :)
    – LShaver
    Mar 28, 2022 at 13:21
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    ^_^ Indeed. I think I'm just trying to draw some parallels in that it's routine (and sometimes legally required) for bicycles and cars to make such a sound when preparing to pass, so people can relate to it being used in running (and that, while necessary, it's not necessarily something the other person will appreciate).
    – Sean Duggan
    Mar 28, 2022 at 13:23
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    @MJB I suppose it depends on the local customs. Where I live, "on your left" is pretty common and well understood.
    – LShaver
    Mar 29, 2022 at 13:33
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    I will try no 2. but change it to 'runner on your left/right', I feel it adds a bit of context. I am in the UK btw. I find option 3 is often where the trouble starts, lots of space so it feels like you dont have to say something, then the person cuts across you as they dont know youre there and then get the shock when you have to alert them at the last minute. Thanks. Mar 29, 2022 at 14:28

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