I haven’t actually run on an actual running “track” save when I was a wee lad in high school many decades ago. The whole thing is a bit foreign to me. Can anyone help me narrow down what tracks are available or open for public use and during what time frames? Being an “out of towner” I’m not even certain what is around other than Barton, and googling has turned up much of anything definitive.
Also, is there some sort of unwritten (or written) etiquette I should be aware of when using one if there are other people on them as well?
Generally speaking, high schools and colleges have tracks—I’m sure there are a bunch near you. High school tracks in particular are often open to the public, though policies vary by school district. If they care, they’ll put up a sign or fence the entire thing in so you can’t go in. I’ve run on a variety of tracks while traveling—it’s not uncommon for them to be open.
For the Sweet 1600 course in this year’s FLRC Challenge (announcement coming very soon!), I have a list of Ithaca-area tracks. Groton and Lansing aren’t usually that fussy about occasional use by individuals; Ithaca High isn’t generally open to the public. Cornell’s track is often available but not guaranteed—sometimes it’s locked tight.
As far as times go, the general rule is to avoid school hours when the track or field inside is more likely to be in use. Once school is out for the year, that’s much less of an issue, but etiquette suggests not running on a track if it’s in use by a group.
I believe Ithaca College’s outdoor track is generally available and unlocked any time before 4pm, when team practice starts. Parking is probably the biggest issue, so I’d suggest finding a spot on a South Hill side street and run your warmup/cooldown to/from the track.