When you're going to be logging the miles needed to train for a race, particularly a marathon, running outside may be what saves you from the routine of the treadmill. Running outdoors can be an experience closer to your actual race, with the ups and downs of hills and weather you won't get indoors. However, running outside has its hazards, and every runner should be aware of some pedestrian safety tips.

Sound of Silence

Leave the headphones at home if you can live without them. Otherwise, try running with just one earbud or a type of headphone which conducts sound through the jawbone. This way you'll be able to hear everything going on around you, from honking cars to people shouting at you. You'll be more alert to your surroundings and be able to react more quickly should an incident occur. You are also much less likely to accidentally push yourself too hard to match the beat of whatever catchy song just came on.

Against the Grain

If there is a sidewalk available, take advantage. This will keep you out of the way of moving vehicles. However, you may find it difficult to find 26 additional miles of sidewalk in your area, and so you end up on the road. Some states have laws, but many recommend running on the shoulder against traffic. This allows you to see oncoming traffic and drivers to see you soon enough to either slow down or move to pass. As Craig Swapp points out, distracted driving is a growing concern. This means you need to be certain you can see the oncoming cars, because they may not see you until it is too late. Be careful around blind turns and the crests of hills when visibility is limited. This may be the time to listen for traffic and move into the shoulder to wait for it to pass.

Light It Up

Running in low light and at night are huge risk factors for accidents. That doesn't mean you can't do it, but it does require more care and preparation before leaving the house. A reflective vest is a must for pedestrian safety, something larger than just the reflective strips found on workout clothing. Some vests even come with a combination of reflection and LED bands. Flashing red LEDs alert drivers to your presence. Wear one on the front and back of your body, even if it is your shoes. There is no such thing as too much when it comes to your safety.

Running outside can add a new level to your training regimen. It will prepare you for the likely conditions you will face on your race day. However, you should take precautions to keep yourself and others as safe as possible. This way, you'll be able to enjoy running for many years to come.

June 07, 2018 — Brian Maniscalco

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