Have you recently started running? Or maybe you’ve been running on the treadmill for years and finally decided to make the jump to taking your runs outdoors. Either way, running outdoors can be a ton of fun and really step up your training.
Here are a few things to remember when running outdoors:
Run on the sidewalk whenever possible!
Roads are made for motor traffic, not foot traffic. So if you have a side walk available, USE IT!! A good practice is to plan out your route in advance with sidewalks and pedestrian paths in mind.
If you MUST run in the road, run facing traffic.
Sometimes you just aren’t able to find a route with sidewalks, especially in rural areas. When this is the case, be sure to run facing traffic (i.e. on the left side of the road if you’re in the States) and stay as far into the shoulder as possible. This will allow you to see the oncoming traffic that will be closest to you, allowing you to react quickly if needed.
Always be seen by others, especially vehicles.
Whether you’re running on the sidewalk or in the road, being seen by those you’re sharing the road/sidewalk with can make sharing easier for everyone.
This can mean a few things:
1) if you’re running on the shoulder of a road, and you’re coming up on a blind curve it could be a wise choice to get on the outside of the curve where drivers will be more likely to see you;
2) if running on the shoulder of a road, and you’re coming up on the crest of a steep hill, be aware that any driver coming over that same crest in the opposite direction will likely not see you until you’re at the top of the hill. In this scenario stay as deep into the shoulder as possible and listen for cars around you.
3) if running at night or twilight, always wear reflective gear (such as a vest) and a headlamp. In fact, don’t be afraid to light yourself up like a Christmas tree! This will keep you safe with anyone you’re sharing the road with, AND keep you from tripping on rocks, roots, potholes, etc. while you run.
Be aware of your surroundings.
As we’ve already mentioned, it’s imperative to see things around your and to be seen by those around you. It’s also important to listen to your surroundings. Sometimes you’ll hear a car coming up a hill or around a corner before you can see it. Or you may hear that dog that got off its leash before it comes into view. That said, always have at least one ear open. I know many people like to run with headphones in, but having an ear open to your surroundings can buy you extra seconds if something unexpected comes your way.
This is in no way an exhaustive list of safety guidelines while running, but they are some solid fundamentals that every runner should take into consideration to stay safe. So stay safe, run fast, and have fun out there!