Rules of the Road: Running Rules You Should Know

Updated

The life of a roadrunner is a lovely one. You can travel almost anywhere, just with your feet — whether it’s the next town over, a cafe you want to visit that’s a few miles away or a full-on marathon. 

Running on the road

But with all the vehicles, there must be rules you have to follow? From wearing a running bracelet to running against the traffic, here are the road running rules you should know. 

Always Run Against Traffic

As a road runner, the best thing you can do is to run against traffic. Too many runners make the mistake of running with traffic, and it leads to far more accidents than should be happening. However, here’s the thing: it’s not the fault of the runner. 

The key reason so many accidents happen to runners running with traffic is that they don’t see cars that are veering towards them. That doesn’t put them at fault for the accidents that happen, but it does mean that they’re not taking the precautions they should be. 

When running against traffic, you can at least:

  • Notice distracted drivers
  • See a driver who is veering on the road
  • Notice a driver who is intentionally driving towards you

With all of this, you can properly react. 

As a road runner, this is one of the smartest things you can do, as it will allow you to react to drivers who would not react the same to you. If a car is veering towards you, you can take immediate action by jumping off the road to safety.

Running on the road 2

Avoid High-Traffic Areas 

Whenever possible, avoid high-traffic areas. There are some times you can’t avoid it, as you’ll need to take certain roads to connect others, but you should always try to avoid running on high-traffic roads, if possible. 

Just as running against traffic can protect you, you should take the time to avoid heavy traffic. The problem running amidst traffic is that drivers could be distracted, either by other cars or by the various sounds and visuals around them. Factor in if it’s during rush hour traffic and you’re talking about a whole other issue — commuters tired prior to and after working. 

If possible, stick to quiet streets, such as suburban areas. If you can’t get to the suburbs, look for local parks. And if that doesn’t work, always stick to roads that have a sidewalk. You almost never want to be running on the actual road — unless you have to.  

Make It Easier for People to See You

While it’s not your responsibility to make people pay attention while driving, you can do your part to make it easier on them. It increases your chances of staying safe while running on the road. 

Even if you’re running during the day, you should wear bright clothing. It’s one of the simplest ways to make yourself stand out from your surroundings, which is one of the key things you’ll need to get a driver’s attention. 

Second, you should also get their attention by moving around. For instance, stretch your arms out as a car approaches you. It may sound weird, but it’s a small way to add movement to a driver’s field of vision, which is more likely to capture their attention. Similarly, if you’re on a tight road and are in the process of running around a turn where oncoming traffic won’t easily see you, stretch your nearest arm out into the road and move your hand around. It’s a small yet effective way to get the attention of a driver, which could save your life. 

Running on the road 3

Run with Illumination at Night 

Similar to the above, you should do your part when running at night. Flashlights and headlamps can go a long way for you, as they’ll make it easier for you to see what you’re running towards — potholes, rocks, black ice, roadkill and more. But it will also allow drivers to see you more quickly, allowing them to give you more space on the road. 

Along with a headlamp or flashlight, you should also be wearing illumination gear. Reflective vests tend to be the favorite among road runners, as they provide near-360° reflection, which will illuminate your body out on a dark night or early morning. 

Carry Your Personal Information with You

You need to understand that accidents and injuries happen. As cautious as you are, things still happen. That’s why you need to be prepared. 

The best way to remain prepared is to carry your personal information with you wherever you run. This includes your name and emergency contact information, as well as your relevant medical history. Best of all, an Apple Watch medical alert bracelet makes it incredibly easy to bring your medical information wherever you go. 

So whether you have diabetes or a heart condition, you can let others know about your medical history in the event of an emergency. 

Accidents and emergencies happen, but you need to ensure that you’re prepared for whenever they happen. 

Get Off the Road, If You Can 

Lastly, while road running is an incredible sport to get into, it’s potentially safer for you to get off the roads. Trail running is generally safer for the fact that there are no vehicles, which will protect you against distracted drivers and more. 

However, if you do transition to trail running, you should know that it still comes with its downsides and dangers. Most of all, you need to be concerned about roots, rocks and uneven territory. All of these could lead to you twisting an ankle, falling on your face, spraining a wrist or worse. 

Whether you’re on the road or on a trail, you need to take precautions to remain safe. Remember that it’s essential for you to keep your head on a swivel. Watch out for cars, cracks and uneven steps. It’ll keep you safe so you can keep running day after day.

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