You see what I did there?

Actually, staying safe while out on the roads is nothing to joke about. Running on the road can be one of the best ways to train yourself to manage your own pace (versus running on a treadmill), deal with the elements and handle a variety of undulation, but it can also be tricky because you're essentially sharing the roads with cars, trucks, motorcycles, bikers, other runners, you name it! Here are four tips to help you get the most out of your road running experience while staying safe and out of trouble.

1. Stay On The Left

This may seem like an obvious rule of thumb but I still see people running along the right side of the road, with traffic. While on a training run (as opposed to a race), always stay on the left! It will help you see and gauge any oncoming traffic and even more importantly it will help them see you. It’s also a good idea to hug the left curb whenever possible. Stay as close as you can to it, especially when there is a narrow shoulder to run on. While doing this, also be careful of storm drains, potholes and uneven road and hop onto the sidewalk when the situation calls for it.

2. Make Eye Contact

A good exercise while crossing a street, an intersection or in front of a vehicle is to confirm that the driver yielding to you has actually seen you instead of just assuming s(he) has. In many cases a driver may be looking in your direction but that driver is actually paying attention to the traffic and not necessarily to you! As runners we can be difficult to spot unless we’re running in large groups so make sure that you have been seen first before crossing in front of that car or other vehicle. Waving to the driver is a good way of confirming this, as you will most likely get a wave back if the driver sees you.

3. Be Situationally Aware...Always!

Make sure that you are paying attention to what’s coming toward you from the front, but also glance back every once a while to know what’s approaching you from behind. If you listen to music while you run, listen to it in low to moderate volume so you can hear the ambient noise around you, both the cars as well as other people (and in some cases animals like dogs that decide to suddenly chase you...not exactly a fun experience). Vehicles like electric or hybrid cars are exceptionally silent so it's even more important to be aware of them. Some headphones like Yurbuds are designed to allow you to hear both the music and ambient noise, simultaneously, so they can be a worthwhile investment. Also wear some type of reflective gear when running either early in the morning or late in the evening. Most running clothes are designed with some sort of reflectivity but in the summer we don’t wear much when we run so make sure you are still being seen by wearing something that reflects light and shines.

4. Yield When You Have To

I don’t know any runner who has ever won a game of chicken with an 18-wheeler (or any vehicle for that matter) so if, from a distance, it looks like the vehicle is not about to yield or go wide to avoid you, yield to it and even hop off the road for a second if you have to. In many cases large vehicles may also be carrying a draft behind them and this draft can knock you off balance. The larger and more obstructive the vehicle, the more turbulent the air flow behind it, so be aware of this and brace yourself, hold your breath, or whatever you have to do in that moment. It may also be necessary to yield to a cyclist who doesn’t seem to notice you. Cyclists can be quite focused and in a zone.

As you can see, the name of the game when running on the road is to be alert and to be aware, and these four simple rules will help keep you safe out there.

As always, feel free to pull me aside for more tips like these on how to run smarter out on the roads.

Run Better. Run Smarter. Run for Life.

Coach Mwangi

Mwangi Gitahi6 Comments