Road Rules You Can Use


Road Rules You Can Use

A big part of the joy we derive from running can be found in the fresh air, change of scenery and the variation of challenge levels afforded by taking our hobby to the great outdoors. I’d pick a trip through the hills (or even the city) over a treadmill any day of the week. But it behooves us to remember some simple safety tips to keep from running into trouble. Many of these appear to be common sense, but they’re worth repeating here.

Dress For Success

Wearing weather-appropriate gear is definitely a smart move, and you can increase the safety factor by donning bright colors and reflective gear to help you stand out from your surroundings — especially if you plan to get your run in at dusk or dawn. A headlamp or flashlight are great ideas too. Skip the headphones, though, especially around traffic or on mixed-use trails. Pumping along to your own personal soundtrack isn’t worth the loss in situational awareness. Sunscreen (while it lasts), hats, UV-protective clothing and sunglasses can be literal lifesavers as well.

Stop, Look and Listen

This is where it gets back to the basics we all learned in kindergarten. Pause and look both ways at intersections and before crossing the street — and run against the flow of traffic so that you can see oncoming cars, even if there’s a jogging lane. I prefer to see the cars that are barreling down on me so that I can react if I need to. Always be sure to obey traffic signs, and remember, even if you have the right-of-way as a pedestrian, it’s always smart to assume that vehicle traffic isn’t going to yield. Being “in the right” won’t matter much if you wind up as a mangled pile of road-rash (or worse). Make eye contact with drivers and watch for signs that they can see you.


Keep in touch. When possible, let a friend or loved one know when/where you’ll be running, as well as your intended route. Tell them how long you expect to be out and give instructions on how they should follow up if something deviates. Better yet, bring a pal or a pooch along with you for the run. Carry your cell phone in case you need to call for help (or a ride). It’s also a good idea to carry identification and emergency contact info, just in case.

Make Smart Decisions

In a perfect world, we’d all be jogging merrily past bucolic manicured lawns a la “Leave it to Beaver.” But the real world isn’t some saccharine-sweet fantasy suburb where everyone has the best of intentions. It pays to be smart. Keep your eyes and ears open (see the headphone comment above). Trust your gut if a person, animal or situation feels “off”, and take steps to avoid any dicey encounters. Mix up your daily routine so that your route is unpredictable to any shady characters. If you’re running in a strange town while travelling, it may be a good idea to reach out to a local running club to get a little local guidance (and perhaps make some new friends in the process). Carry a whistle or other noisemaker to attract attention if you need help but check with local ordinances before carrying anything that could be considered a weapon. Also, never be afraid to call the police.

All-in-all: be smart, be safe, and remember to hydrate.