Road safety is a concern not only for motorists but also for other road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and runners. Running injuries are quite common but can be reduced through proper conditioning and training programmes; wearing the appropriate apparel and footwear and being aware of the running environment.
Conditioning and training programmes will take runners on the road – and it is important that we consider how runners can protect themselves from the threats of errant drivers, crime, etc.
Planning the run
- Traffic: When you run outdoors, traffic will be a hazard.
- Let others know where you will be running and stay in familiar areas, away from traffic if possible.
- Run on the side of the road facing traffic, preferably in the early mornings when traffic is sparse and exhaust fumes are few and far between.
- Always give traffic right of way and watch for those crazy overtaking speedsters who don’t care about runners.
- Try to get a running partner. If staying at a hotel, ask the concierge for nearby, safe running routes or possibly a school track.
“Be considerate of other road and pavement users. Do not force pedestrians into the road and do not step off the pavement without checking behind. Cyclists do not make a noise!”
- Caution another runner in case you find one is not being mindful of something you think is basic – it could save someone from getting injured.
- Do not run at night, but if you run at dusk or dawn, wear reflective material.
- Whenever possible, run on a clear, smooth, resilient, even and reasonably soft surface. Avoid running on hills, which increases stress on the ankle and foot.
- When running on curved surfaces, change directions in forwarding movement, so that you have even pressure on both feet during the run.
- Avoid unpopular areas, deserted streets, lonely trails – and especially avoid unlighted routes at night.
- Run in familiar areas. Be aware of emergency phones and how they work, and note the location of neighbours you trust along with your route.
- Be careful of the terrain and aware of possible potholes and cracks in the streets and sidewalks that can cause major injury.
Safety during the run
- Always stay alert and aware of what’s going on around you. The more aware you are, the less vulnerable you are.
- Think about possible escape routes in case of a confrontation.
- Take notice of who is ahead of you and who is behind you. Know where the nearest public sites are with some general activity – there is usually safety in numbers.
- When in doubt, follow your intuition and avoid potential trouble. If something seems suspicious, do not panic, but run in a different direction.
- Run clear of parked cars, bushes and dark areas.
- Be extra vigilant at junctions with alleyways where traffic may emerge.
- Run across the street at crosswalks and always pay attention to traffic lights.
- Drivers have a bad habit of not looking for pedestrians. Be sure to make eye contact before crossing in front of a car.
- Never assume you have been seen!
- Be considerate of other road and pavement users. Do not force pedestrians into the road and do not step off the pavement without checking behind. Cyclists do not make a noise!
- Be aware of other hazards such as forces of nature, animals, etc.
- Use discretion in acknowledging strangers. Look directly at others and be observant, but keep your distance and keep moving.
- Ignore verbal harassment.
- Do not approach a car to give directions or the time of day. Point toward the nearest police or information source or shrug your shoulders, but keep moving. If you feel you must respond, do it while moving.
Running on the road is part of being healthy. Let us avoid the dangers on the road and focus on those aspects that will help us to arrive alive and without injury.