Two weeks ago while I was out for a 5 mile run on a busy street in my neighborhood, I saw another runner coming at me approximately 75 feet ahead. While I was running facing the traffic, she was running with the flow of traffic. In my 3 years of running I have always run against the flow of traffic--the reason, I want to see the driver, just in case the driver does not see me; at least this gives me the opportunity to jump out of the way.
As fate would have it, a car coming at a fairly high rate of speed for a residential street, was making a bee-line right for the other runner. I was screaming at her to jump the curb. Thankfully she did and avoided getting hit, but the driver had no clue what could have happened, she was too busy on her cell phone and was not paying attention. Let me tell you, there were two runners quite shaken up. She picked herself up and I picked up my heart.
While I spent the better part of the next 3 miles thinking, I realized I have made many mistakes while running on the roads and thought I would share a few tips to make us all safer runners and walkers.
Map out your route: I am fortunate to have a Garmin Forerunner 405 with GPS but after this incident it dawned on me that while I knew where I was going, my husband would have no clue. If something happened to me, he would have no idea where to even begin to look for me if I did not return home. Therefore, from now on I am going to be using the SparkPeople’s Fitness Maps, to map out my intended route and leave a copy with him just in case.
Bring a cell phone: Thankfully, I have never had to use mine, but one never knows. In an age where pay phones are few and far between and businesses are reluctant to let you use their phones, it is always a good idea to carry one with you in case of trouble.
Identification: Whether you carry your driver’s license in your pocket or wear a Road ID make sure you carry some form of ID on your person just in case you are rendered unconscious.
Run/Walk against the flow of traffic: As I mentioned earlier, I would much rather see a car then an inattentive driver not seeing me. In an age where people do everything in their car except drive sometimes, you must be on the defensive if you must run or walk in the street.
Dogs: While I have yet to encounter any vicious dogs on my runs, I have learned that the best thing to do if approached by one is to stop running/walking. A dog will be able to outrun a walker or runner any time so it is best to slowly back up away from the dog. Try to put something between you and the dog. If you have access to a stick or rock that may be a deterrent. And as a last resort, drop to the ground and curl up in a ball making sure you cover your face and head.
Wear Reflective Gear: Wearing some form of reflective gear, whether a hat, jacket, shirt, or button, especially at night or at dusk/dawn, allows others to visibly see you more easily. Anytime you can make yourself visible allows for better safety.
Remember, always put your safety first. This will allow you to keep on walking and running for a long time to come.
Have you ever encountered any dangerous situations on your runs/walks? How did you handle them? Do you have any other tips to offer?