Saturday, April 17, 2010

Running Essentials: Rules of the Road

Every spring as the temperature rises so does the number of runners venturing out of their treadmill-induced winter comas and onto the road. Unfortunately every year, runners are severely injured or killed while running on the road. That said, there's nothing wrong with running on the road: it certainly beats the monotony of a treadmill or a track. However, you have to be smart about it.

Here are a few rules to get you started:

1) Always run against traffic! This means that you should be able to see cars in your lane that are approaching you. I can't tell you how often I see runners running with traffic and it makes me so nervous. Part of running on the road intelligently is being in a position to react quickly to a dangerous situation - if a car is coming up behind you, it's impossible to do that.

2) Listen to music at a low level (or not at all). I admit that I frequently listen to music while I run. Again be smart about it - have the music at a relatively low volume. You should always be able to hear appropaching traffic, bicyclists, other runners, or animals.

3) If you are running at dawn or dusk, invest in some reflective safety gear (see here). I have a reflective vest. It was cheap ($10) and straps on over whatever I'm wearing on my run. Do I look ridiculous? Yes. Do I want to die? No. Always assume that a driver does not see you. Drivers are not thinking about looking out for runners so wear reflective gear to stand out more.

4) Wear light and bright clothing. This ties in with #3 - regardless of what time of the day you run, wear at least one bright article of clothing. You'll stand out more and drivers will be more likely to see you.

5) If you approach a crosswalk or intersection, do not assume that a driver is giving you the right of way. I never cross a road in front of a driver unless the driver has expressly waived me by. Even then, I proceed cautiously and quickly.

Even for those of you that don't run yourselves, I'm sure you've seen runners while you're driving around your towns. Here is some advice for you motorists:

1) If you see a runner approaching and a car is coming in the other lane, slow down. Ideally, slow down enough that the two cars don't pass the runner at the same time. Under no circumstances should you speed up in order to ensure that both cars don't pass the runner at the same time. As a runner there is nothing more terrifying than a car speeding past you at 50 mph!

2) If you see a runner approaching and there is no car coming in the other lane, move over slightly across the median. This is much appreciated by runners, not only because it means I don't have to hop off the road into the brush, but also because it gives me 100% confirmation that the driver has seen me.

3) Be sure to use your turn signals. It's easier for a runner to be safe on the road when you let the runner know your plans. If you want to allow the runner to cross in front of you, expressly use your hand to waive the runner by. A head nod or just waiting for the runner to cross is not enough.

Monday marks the 114th Boston Marathon - I found out on Friday that one of the attorneys that works in my courthouse is running! GO CHRIS! Yay!

In order to run the Boston Marathon, you have to qualify (i.e. run another marathon under a certain time for your age). To qualify for Boston, I'd have to run a marathon in 3 hours and 40 minutes or less. That's roughly a 8:20 mile won't be running in the Boston Marathon anytime soon! When I'm 70, I'll only have to run a 11:30 pace for 26.2 miles so I can spend the next 40 years working on that!

I will, however, enjoy watching the Boston Marathon on television ('cause it only takes the elite runners like two hours to run it!) and then I'll do a much shorter run of my own to commemorate the day!

Happy Running!


  1. I'm relatively new runner and don't think I will ever qualify for Boston Marathon anytime soon :) But since I live in south TX, the weather is unbearable for spring and summer to run here. Too hot and too humid. But I have my first half marathon in Oct, and I guess I need to learn to run on that weather. Good luck on your upcoming races. Can't wait to read more about your running adventures (and the Anthropologie parts as well)

  2. I feel your pain re: hot and humid. I'm in New England but we get it bad up here too. Last summer, it rained almost every afternoon and the humidity was over 90% on most days. Try getting your runs done earlier in the morning - it sucks to wake up but it's usually cooler and then you can go through the rest of your day feeling like a superstar because you already worked out! Good luck in October! :)

  3. I actually think you can be safe and stylish at the same time!! While at the Boston Marathon Expo I picked up a super cute jacket from illuminite, they had so many other things as well. Safety - its a good enough excuse for me to expand my running wardrobe!

    Princess D

  4. I just saw your comment, Princess D! (And I've now changed my settings so I get emailed everytime someone posts a comment so this never happens again!) I'm checking out the website right now and loving it!