Running several times per week is a great way to exercise, destress, and improve your overall sense of wellbeing. However, runners must be careful when they head out the door to exercise caution to remain safe. People who run must remain aware of their surroundings and do things to make themselves easier to see by motorists. Taking several safety precautions can help to reduce your chances of suffering serious injuries in a pedestrian accident. Here are some tips for things you can do to protect yourself while running.
- Plan Your Route Before You Head Out.
Make sure you plan the route you will run before you go out for a run. Try to choose a route that includes less busy roads, streets, or jogging paths. If you plan to run early in the morning or in the evening when it is dark, you should plan to run in well-lit areas. It is best to run in an area with which you are familiar than to try to plan a route through an area you do not know. Try driving a route you are considering and note any potential dangers before you go for a run. You should also vary your route or the time of day that you run so that others cannot predict it.
- Increase Your Visibility.
Whether you run during the day or after dark, you should make sure that you are very visible. Motorists might not notice you if you are wearing dark clothing and blend into the background. Choose brightly colored, neon clothes and shoes. If you will be running after dark, make sure to use reflective tape or bands. You might also consider running while carrying a small flashlight so that motorists can see you.
- While Running, Do not Assume that Motorists See You.
While you are running, you should not assume that drivers see you. When you approach intersections, watch for vehicles, and do not cross when you do not have a signal. Some drivers might be distracted and simply not notice that you are preparing to cross the road, so exercise added caution and assume that drivers do not see you and do things to get their attention, such as making eye contact and waiting for them to signal that it is safe for you to cross.
- Minimize Distractions.
While many runners enjoy listening to music on their headphones while they run, doing so can be dangerous. If you run with earbuds in your years, you might not hear traffic sounds around you or other indicators of potential dangers. If you do enjoy listening to music when you run, consider keeping only one earbud in so that you can hear your environment with the other ear. You should also keep your volume turned down so you can hear what is going on around you. It is best for you to simply avoid using earbuds or headphones while running, however.
- Partner Up or Join a Running Club.
If you have a friend who also enjoys running, consider planning to run together. Running in groups of two or more people helps to increase your visibility and makes it likelier that motorists will see all of you. Running with a friend or in a group can also help to decrease the chances that a bad actor will harass or assault you.
If you do not have a friend who is willing to go on regular runs with you, you might consider joining a running club. Running with a sizeable group of people will not only keep you safer, but it can also help to motivate you and make the experience more fun. Running clubs can allow you to socialize and provide you with something to look forward to throughout the week.
Some people prefer to run alone. If you are one of them, make sure you tell someone close to you the route you plan to take and when you should be expected to return. You should also consider running with your dog if you have one. A dog can help to make you more visible while also deterring strangers from bothering you.
- Run Against Traffic.
While cyclists are required to ride their bicycles with the flow of traffic, runners should do the opposite. Running against the flow of traffic allows you to see vehicles that might turn into intersections you will be crossing and increase the chance that oncoming motorists will see you. You should also stick to the sidewalks instead of running on the street wherever possible.
- Take Your Phone, ID, and a Loud Whistle.
You should always take your phone and your ID whenever you run. This can help if there is an emergency. If you are hit by a car or attacked, having your phone available can allow you to quickly summon help. If you are seriously injured, having your ID on you can help responders to identify you and ensure that you both get the help you need and your family is promptly notified. Even if you don’t have a serious emergency, having your phone can also help you call your family or friends if you sprain your ankle and cannot walk back home.
Bringing a whistle is also a smart idea. You can blow it if you feel unsafe to draw attention. You can also use it if you have been injured to attract the attention of others to help you.
- Try to Run During the Day Instead of at Night.
If you can, it is best to run during the day instead of at night. Running when it is light outside can help to reduce your chances of being hit by a car or being attacked. You are also more likely to see objects in your path so that you will not trip and fall over them. While keeping your running schedule strictly to daytime hours might be difficult during the winter months, you should try your best to run during the day. If your work schedule prevents you from running while it is light outside, think about running at your local gym or taking a jog during your lunch hour.
- Yield to Vehicles at Intersections.
When you approach intersections, yield to any vehicles before you enter them. While you might have the right-of-way, that will be of little comfort if you are hit by a car. Pedestrian accidents can cause very serious injuries that you will want to avoid. Slow down as you approach intersections, look for traffic in all directions, and stop if any vehicles appear to be headed your way even if the signal indicates it is your time to cross.
- Take Advantage of Technology.
There are many apps available that can help you to remain safe while running. Take advantage of these apps. You can use apps to help you plan your routes and can also turn on a tracking app while you run so your family members can quickly get to where you are if you need help. If you use a tracking app, make sure to turn it off after you return home. Other apps can sound sirens, alert authorities, record video, and transmit your GPS location to the police in the event you are seriously injured or have been attacked.
Staying safe while running is important. If you follow simple safety precautions, you can enjoy your run and return home in one piece. However, sometimes accidents still happen despite the precautions you might take. If that happens, call the police and seek prompt medical attention for your injuries.