Random Post: Running Safety

This blog is about cooking and sewing, but I am randomly posting a bit about another hobby near and dear to my heart: running.  I started running in high school, joined the cross-country team in college, and had a two-year hiatus due to some injuries, but I’ve been back at it for awhile now, and as I was on my longest run (5.2 miles) since the Bionic Hip, I started thinking about all the things I need to do to make sure I don’t get smoked out on a run.  If you’re new to running, hopefully these will help.  If you’re not new to running, it always helps to have a refresher, eh?

Spring is here and that means us runners are going to start coming out in full force. Unfortunately, a lot of motorists are not so into the being-nice-to-runners bit, so you need to the cautious one.  Here are some tips you need to know so you don’t end up as the lead story on the news.  

Urban Running

Everyone loves running with an iPod, I know.  But iPods can cause some serious attention issues and cause problems for you and the motorists you’re sharing the road with. 

1.  Keep the volume low.

If you’re going to be running all around town, the volume on your music should be low enough so you can hear cars approaching, honking horns, sirens from at least a couple blocks away, and, unfortunately, even catcalls (if people are catcalling you.  Maybe they’re just yelling at you to get out of the way). 

2.  Wear bright clothing.

Running clothing doesn’t only come in neon colors because we’re drawn to bright things like kids are to candy–it’s for safety.  People notice neon.  If you’re not the neon type, at least follow this simple rule: if you’re a winter runner and it’s a cloudy day, don’t wear white.  Don’t wear gray on a cloudy day, don’t wear black or navy if you’re running close to sunrise or sunset, and for God’s sake, if you must run in the country during hunting season, wear a lot of blaze orange. 

3.  Always run against traffic.

Even when you run on sidewalks, try to run against traffic, so you can always see what’s coming at you.  Here’s my personal anecdote for this one:

When I was in high school, a group of us were running on the road, against traffic.  We had to make a turn in about a block, so we all crossed over.  Half of us ran on the shoulder, half of us hopped up on the grass.  We were about 25 feet from the turn when someone screamed at us.  Naturally, we all hit the ditch–just before a car sped by us with its passenger-side door opened.  Yup, someone tried to door-swat us.  They were actually arrested the next day because they drove around town targeting the cross-country team.  These kids went so far as to cross lanes of traffic to try and hit runners who were running against traffic.  At least they had the advantage because they could see what was coming.  So, always run against traffic. 

4.  Be smart about your routes.

Try to plan your routes so you’re taking left turns instead of right. If you start out running against traffic, you won’t have to cross streets, and you’ll still be facing traffic when you turn. 

5.  Watch your intersections. 

Now, I live in a town with a lot of train crossings (another reason to keep your music low), and I also live in a town where no one pays attention to traffic signals.  Green? Go.  Yellow? Go fast so the five cars behind you can go.  Red? Go if a) there’s no one coming, b) there are no cops around, or c) you drive a truck.  You can’t just run out in the intersection and expect people to stop for  you.  In some towns they will, and in some they won’t.  Motorists in my town won’t, so I make sure I am aware enough to know when it’s safe to cross and when it’s not.  The onus is on you, really. 

6.  Vary your routes. 

Switch it up a bit! People are crazy, and if crazy people are watching you, you surely don’t want them figuring out you turn left onto 5th street at 7:25 every morning. Not good.  Besides, variety is the spice of life. 


Country Running

I used to love running in the country because it was so easy to figure out how far you were going.  1 “block” equals 1 mile.  Easy.  Plus, there was little traffic, no people to bother you, and no tiny dogs to run you off their “turf.” But, just like running in town, there are some things you should probably do when running. 

1.  Tell someone where you’re going.

Let’s go back to the crazy people part.  If someone snatches you, it’s best if someone knows where you went.  Pull up a map online, text a friend, whatever.  This will also come in handy if a bear gets you (I’ve seen my share of too-close bears in the spring), if you get hurt, or whatever. 

2.  Carry your cell. 

This is just as valuable as telling someone where you’re going.  Again, if you get hurt, mauled by a a zombie, or lost, whip out your phone and call someone. 

3.  Be mindful of hunting seasons.

I’ve been guilty of ignoring hunting season once.  When I loved in NW Wisconsin, where deer hunting is king, I decided to go out for a little jog, in the country, on a Saturday.  It was opening day.  DUMB.  Not only was it unnerving to run around hearing gunshots, some people still roadside hunt (we’re ignoring the fact it’s illegal here), and that could have ended very, very badly.  So, stick to town during hunting season. 


There you have it.  Some very basic tips to help keep you a safe and happy runner!