Running on the road

This evening I went for a 3 mile run with miles 1 and 3 under 10 minutes and mile 2 “fast” which ended up being 9:08. Not quite what I was shooting for, but I’ll take it. Even though it gets hotter in the summer, I love that I can run as late as 8:30 in the evening and still have daylight.

This morning I was crossing from a storefront to the parking lot in a cross walk in the pouring rain. Halfway across I had to stop as a car went by without ever slowing or looking at me. Not very courteous… but it got me thinking about runner safety while running on the road. I often run on the roads around our house and I have gleaned some general safety tips for running on the road.

  1. Run on the left side facing oncoming traffic. This allows you to see what’s coming at you and gives you a chance to react to a driver who may not be paying attention. The one caveat to this is if you are approaching a blind curve. I have found it’s best to switch sides of the road, if it is safe to do so, since an oncoming driver has no way of seeing you in a blind turn.
  2. Never assume a driver sees you. Always have a plan for how you would react if a driver is not paying attention (e.g. by running in the ditch). It is a good idea to wave to drivers to help them see you. It is also a courteous gesture that may make the driver reciprocate with additional courtesy. Also make sure a driver acknowledges you before crossing in front of a car at an intersection.
  3. Do not run with music & stay aware. It is especially important to be aware of your surroundings. You want to be able to hear an approaching car as well as other hazards (a loose dog, a person with bad intent, etc.). If you HAVE to run with music, keep one ear bud out. But in my opinion you really shouldn’t listen to music while running on the road. It is distracting and you want to stay aware and not zone out during your run.  
  4. Carry identification. Your driver’s license or another ID (school ID, etc.) is sufficient. An even better option would be to invest in a RoadID. Basic information to have on your ID include your name, an emergency contact number, and your blood type.
  5. Bring your phone. You never know when something might go wrong and you need someone to come pick you up. It’s also good to have it in case of emergency or if you want to order some food like I did last week.
  6. Ignore verbal harassment. I often find that drivers like to toot their horn or yell things at me. It is best to ignore them and not engage them. I think they are often looking for a reaction. If something happens or if you feel someone has crossed a line, notify the police and get a license plate if you can.  
  7. Make sure someone knows where you are going and when you will be back. This is common sense and really doesn’t need much explaining. Let a spouse, family member, or friend know roughly what route you will be running, when you will be heading out for your run, and when you plan to return.
  8. Wear bright clothing. Brightly colored shirts and other clothing will help you be more visible along the side of the road.
  9. When in doubt, stop and wait. If you are unsure if a driver has given you the right of way, just stop and wait. You can even waive them on. Never try and race a car to an intersection, they’ll win.
  10. Follow the rules of the road. When you are running through a town, obey stop lights and crossing signals.

Do you run/bike/walk on roads?

What would you add to my road running safety tips? What did I miss?

12 thoughts on “Running on the road”

  1. I do run on roads as long as there is a sidewalk or a pretty big shoulder. If it is a country road without a lot of curves or traffic, I will run on it if there is not much of a shoulder. But the tree-filled, curvy roads do freak me out a lot. Reflective clothing at dusk/dawn!

    1. The roads I often run on would be classified as curvy, country roads that have little to no shoulder at times. Not the safest, but I stay aware and am smart about cars. Great tip with the reflective clothing!

  2. I love running on country roads. It’s so peaceful! Ditto the reflective clothing! I too am enjoying running in daylight as late as 8:30-9 p.m.!

    1. There’s this one road I used to do my long runs on all of the time that’s a “country road” and I could run 10 miles and only see one car. I haven’t gone that way in awhile, though, because I have to go past the white pitbulls house to get there and I haven’t gone past that house since the day he chased me down the road and jumped up and put his front paws on my back.

  3. I ride on the roads only if there isn’t a trail. I try to plan most of my routes with limited exposure to traffic. I still wear reflective/bright colored shirt. And when its cloudy or getting dusky I use at a minimum a flashing tail light, even on the trail. In Nova, we have no country roads. Just drivers from other countries who tend to approach the rules of the road as guidlines rather than laws.LUD.

    1. You have to be careful of some of the crazy drivers up there! But then again crazy drivers are everywhere. Don’t forget about the moms with their “battering rams” 🙂

  4. I agree with Deb, these are great tips! I never really think about how dangerous it is to run on the roads. However I do wear bright colors and have started running opposite to traffic! I also feel safer running on roads with a slower speed limit, so I try to modify my routes if possible!

    1. You never know what drivers are going to do or if they’re even paying attention. Great tip on sticking to roads with a slower speed limit. I try to stick to roads 40 mph and under.

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