Best Practices for Running Safely
Nothing feels better to runners than taking to the streets, the tracks, and the trails to pound out the stresses of the day and enjoy the environment around us. For fitness-minded people, running can be the perfect way to explore, stay in shape, feel great, and even give back. Unfortunately, we’ve all heard the stories of runners who have inadvertently stepped into danger on the roads when they were simply trying to be healthy, but we can do a lot to reduce our risks by staying mindful and making safety a priority.
Running in groups can be liberating.
Being a part of a running group is not only a great way to stay motivated to train regularly and to push yourself, it’s also an excellent way to reduce your personal risk: your friends might notice dangers that you don’t, you’ll have someone to help you if you get injured, and people with bad intentions will be less likely to approach you.
Women runners know how scary it can be when a suspicious person suddenly appears in your path. Even if our fears turn out to be unwarranted, it can be a stressful distraction. The peace of mind that you’ll get from running with friends is worth it.
Solitary runners can do a lot to protect themselves.
For those of you who prefer the social escape that running alone can give you, you may not be willing to trade your alone time for the added safety. It’s understandable, but there are still important steps you can take to protect yourself.
Running in parks or on trails where people are known to frequent can discourage people that mean you harm from approaching you. Public trails and parks often have phones where you can call for help in the event of an emergency. Memorizing the locations of these communication stations will help you to be prepared.
Keep your friends and family informed when you decide to go for a run. There are many devices that can track your location which can keep loved ones informed about your progress. Telling friends to expect a call from you at a certain time is a great way to have backup even when you are alone.
The facts about vehicle-related injuries to pedestrians are sobering.
Did you know that motor vehicle accidents are the most common type of personal injury? The most serious injuries happen to runners when a focused runner comes into contact with a distracted driver. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one pedestrian was killed every 1.5 hours in motor accidents in 2016, and pedestrians are one of the few groups that had an increase in traffic-related mortality. In 2012, 14 percent of all traffic fatalities happened to pedestrians! It is more important than ever for runners to be wary of dangerous motorists.
Protect yourself around drivers.
While wearing bright, reflective colors can help you to be seen and create the visual pop that can snap a distracted driver out of a daze, you can’t rely on drivers for your safety. Running in the direction of traffic gives you the opportunity to observe a driver as they approach you and to assess their awareness level. Never run with your back to traffic!
Keep your eyes on drivers as they approach and look for telltale signs. Frequent glances downward can be a sign that they have their eyes glued to their smartphone and might not see you. A nodding head can indicate drowsiness or even intoxication. Watch out for drivers who sway from one side of the lane to the other or who drive slower or faster than the speed limit. These can all be indications of a dangerous driver. Never assume a driver sees you just because they are driving normally. You never know which drivers are in zombie mode and are completely distracted by their own thoughts.
Your life is in your own hands!
Running is a rewarding form of exercise that can also do wonders for our mental health. For the asphalt warriors of the world, the dangers won’t be enough to stop us from lacing up. Every runner has the ability and responsibility to take their safety into their own hands. Following these simple strategies can help you pursue your passion safely.