GeneralRunning Safety

Running Safety


Running is a pretty safe sport, for the most part. But like anything, there is risk involved. Taking some precautions can cut down the risk and increase your comfort and enjoyment out on the run. ‑

‑ Avoiding Injuries‑

‑ Begin every run with a 5-minute warm-up BEFORE you do the bulk of your run. Walk, shake out your arms, lift your knees high. Do a few striders and a few skips if you need to? As you warm up transition slowly into your run, picking up speed only once your muscles are completely warm. ‑

‑ After your run doesn’t just stop and plop into the couch. Cooldown by walking at least 5 minutes or ¼ of a mile. Finish up with a good set of static stretches that works all of your leg muscles. ‑

‑ Personal Safety on the Run‑

‑ Don’t wear headphones: If you must, always keep one ear open and available to the traffic side. Keep the volume low enough so you can hear around you. ‑

‑ One trick is to have the music on, but the headphones tucked away so you can hear the music, but it isn’t actually playing into your ears. NEVER wear earphones/headphones when running alone on a trail or in a remote area where animals may be present. Listen to nature’s music! –

‑ Run-on left, facing traffic: Cycle with traffic, run against. You want to be able to see the cars as they come towards you so you can react if they’re not paying attention. ‑

‑ Watch for oncoming traffic at intersections and alleyways: If a car stops don’t assume; he’s stopping for you. More than one runner has been hit because they assumed the driver saw them. Make eye contact, wave your hands and call out verbally. If in doubt, wait for them to pass you. Even if you have the right of way, you lose if they don’t yield. ‑

‑ Pay particular attention when running on sidewalks and a car is turning right. Often, they ONLY look left to turn right, and that can translate into a world of hurt for you! Make eye contact and wave at them. ‑

‑ Always wave and smile to drivers. The more you can make them think of runners as human beings, and no disruptions to their drive, the more careful they may be around you. ‑

‑ Be visible: If you run at night wear a flashing light, Headlamps Straps, a reflective belt, top, pants, and/or vest, and possibly a headlamp. Even in the dusk or early morning, you can be difficult to see. When you go out to run look down the street and ask yourself what you see. If visibility is at all limited, strap on your flashing light! ‑

‑ Don’t wear black, no matter HOW slimming it is. Bright colours are best and will alert drivers to your presence. Don’t depend on the reflectors on your shoes to be “good enough.” Light yourself up like Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Just leave Dick Clark at home. ‑

‑ Run with others: If you can’t, or you prefer to run alone, consider a dog. When you are running alone, be smart. Don’t have your iPod, cell phone, or anything of value visible. If you run with an iPod, swap out the white headphones (that scream “I have an iPod” for simple cheap black ones). Again, keep at least one ear open or don’t wear headphones at all! ‑

‑ Where you run makes a difference: I am the biggest proponent of discovering a new city on my feet. I have explored cities all over the US, in Norway, and England with my running shoes and my camera. But before you head out your hotel room down the street, ask someone if there are areas you should not venture out into. Make sure you have a cell phone with you and you know the local emergency number if it is not 9-1-1. If you ARE taking a vacation, do some exploring before you go. Often you can find the local running club and join them on a club run. The best part is, you make new friends and contacts! ‑

‑ When you’re out, don’t approach cars that ask for directions. Stay off to the side and call them out, or just pretend you don’t hear them. I know we want to be polite, but be sensible about it. Make eye contact with people you pass as you run and say good morning, but if you feel at all threatened duck into the closest busy place. I’ll often wave and call out to “someone down the street” to make it sound like I’m meeting someone, or will talk like I’m on the phone “Yeah, I’m just on the corner of North and Main, I’ll see you in about 2 minutes. Oh yeah! I see you now!” Make it sound like you’re not alone. (Hey, can they really tell if you have a headset stuck into your ear? Probably not.) ‑

‑ Weather Consideration‑

‑ Heat: Run with water and wear a technical shirt that will wick away the sweat. Try to run in the early morning or after the sun goes down. Avoid the hottest part of the day. Plan to cut your run short if you feel overly tired at all. No speedwork in the heat, please! ‑

‑ Rain: Be aware of your footing so you don’t slip on wet leaves or moss (a real consideration in the Pacific Northwest and other damp areas). Wear a hat with a bill to keep water out of your eyes. Run as far off of high traffic areas as you can as road spray can be nasty, and is worse while it’s raining. Wear a light rain jacket that is water-resistant if possible. ‑

‑ In heavy rain, you are harder to see so dress in bright clothing with reflective gear. ‑

‑ Cold: Wear a headcover and be sure your hands and feet will be warm enough. Most of our heat escapes through our head. Wear layers so that you can remove them as you warm up and tie them around your waste. If it is too cold, hit the treadmill. ‑

‑ If it is snowing or icy, consider a pair of shoe “treads” that will help you grip in icy areas. Be extra aware of drivers because they are focusing on the road and may not see you, particularly in areas where you don’t get a lot of snow. ‑

‑ Running is a wonderful activity and as long as you play it safe, you should be able to enjoy this life-enriching activity for years!


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