Joining in the forums is like turning up at a huge running club that welcomes runners at all levels. Just being yourself is a very good rule of thumb, unless you're naturally obnoxious, in which case trying extra hard to be polite and interested might be a fine idea.
In the forums, you'll find 'normal' running threads, chatty threads, a few very, very long threads, and some familiar faces cropping up again and again. Many of those forum regulars drop into all sorts of threads to offer advice or encouragement - you'll soon find out who's most specialised in what. The very long threads are often a kind of meeting place for like-minded runners (eg on weight loss, or starting out).
You don't have to know anything at all about the other people in your conversation, but here’s a tip: "If you lurk for a while, you’ll realise that xxx is actually a really experienced runner, so suggesting they try different shoes is not going to be that useful, or that yyy understands very well the normal rules for improving your running but has other issues which mean they just won't work for them. And you're less likely to accidentally put people’s noses out of joint." - lp
"Lots of forumites have very specific areas of knowledge and it is a learning process knowing who to ask what." – Plum
"We have doctors, dentists, accountants, lawyers, techie peeps, nutritionists, and everyone else under the sun. You'll soon get steered in the direction of the person who can help you best." - Nessie
Click on a person's name in the forum to see whether they've filled any details in their profile.
"I think it is important to keep your profile up to date. It helps when people want to give you advice as well as let you see how experienced the people giving advice are (ok, so people could lie, but I don't think that happens round here)." - Jen*
Forum conventionsWe try to be grown up about managing the forums, so the only real rules are the heavy terms and conditions you signed up to (no obscenity, no commerce, no impersonation...) But you might find these guidelines helpful...
Forumites in real life...
There are also regular forum socials around the country. They're amazing. You just turn up to the designated pub, spot the likely people, and then start conversations with friendly runners you've never met before.
"Do go to socials or meet at events if you can, as you get to see the people behind the names. Jon doesn't even have two heads; Waapster does look like his picture." - Dodge
There's a great photo archive of forum events and socials at forumite Richk's website.
The forum moderators mainly work in response to reader complaints (fortunately, there are very few). If you come across a thread or post that offends you, drop us a line.