It’s been a long winter. Fresh spring air, longer days and slush-free roads for the win! If you’re off the treadmill and back to outdoor running, stay safe with our 7 tips for safe road running in spring.
Plan your route
Plot your distance in advance so you’re not pushing yourself too far. An exhausted runner may make poor decisions when judging traffic and choosing crossing locations. Choose quieter streets with a sidewalk for safer running. Include pedestrian pathways for extra protection (not to mention a prettier view!). If you run on a road with no sidewalk, remember the safest choice is to run facing traffic, where you can see and be seen.
Even during the daytime, wear bright colours and add reflectors to your clothing or waist pack. Use biomotion – lights or reflectors on the parts that move, like your feet, especially at night. If possible, run with a buddy or a group, as more people running together means you’re more likely to be seen by drivers.
Obey the rules
When you’ve got your run on, make sure you’re being predictable and follow the road rules. Cross at marked crossings and intersections only. Wait for walk signs, even if it means jogging in place. Make eye contact with drivers before crossing and never allow your speed to carry you into an intersection without pausing to look.
Don’t run distracted
Music or a podcast can help make a run more enjoyable. They can also help control your pace. But remember that headphones are a distraction and prevent you from hearing the audio cues from bikes and vehicles. If you choose to add sound to your run, keep the volume low and keep in mind that attention to the road is your top priority.
Watch the weather
Although the days are longer, there can still be unpredictable weather, including slippery snow showers and early morning icy spots. Check the weather before heading out and in poor conditions, take it slow and allow more time for vehicles and bikes to come to a complete stop.
Respect other pedestrians
It’s less common, but people can be hurt when pedestrians collide, too! When running on a sidewalk or pathway, always keep right to allow faster runners or bikes to pass you on the left. If you’re ready to pass, check over your shoulder to make sure the way is clear before pulling out. And if running with a larger group, drop into single file on narrow paths for predictability and courtesy.
Carry a cell phone and ID
Don’t get caught far from home with no resources and no way to call for help. Should you suddenly become ill, overestimate your energy, or be involved in an accident, you want to be able to contact your loved ones and get help. Don’t try to continue running if you cannot focus and make good decisions for the remainder of your route. Instead, call it a day and plan a new route for next time.
Running outdoors can be much more interesting and refreshing than running indoors, but safety always comes first! Follow the rules of the road, make sure you’re seen, and your run will be much more enjoyable, relaxing, and rewarding.
Earn your RoadSMARTS
Learn more about road safety by taking the #RoadSMARTS pledge. By taking the Road SMARTS Pledge, you Support Making All Road Travel Safe, which can help improve road safety for everyone. When road behaviours change, accidents are reduced. For more information and to take the pledge for free, visit https://www.ottawasafetycouncil.ca/road-smarts.