Outdoor running has immense benefits. From increased cardiovascular health and overall physical fitness, to Vitamin D absorption and the positive effects on mental health, running helps to release powerful hormones that boost mood and combat depression. A study found that people who ran outdoors reported increased energy, decreased feelings of depression, and were more likely to repeat their workouts. Additionally, those who ran outdoors tended to run further and longer than their treadmill-running counterparts. Listed below are a few tips on how to increase safety while taking advantage of the benefits of an outdoor run:
Run in Daylight
Outdoor runners in the warmer months are caught in a strange dynamic; beat the heat and get your run in before the sun comes up, or wait for the sun to come up to increase visibility but run when temperatures are high or climbing higher. It’s always safest and best to run in well-lit areas, preferably on a maintained sidewalk or path. Choosing apparel that increases your visibility is always recommended as well, being able to be seen easily is critical. If you must run in the street, it’s best to run toward oncoming traffic so you can run defensively and maintain an awareness of your surroundings and potential dangers.
Run Against Traffic
Sidewalks are safest. When a well-maintained sidewalk or path is available, it’s always preferred you run there, however, this is not always the case if you live outside city limits or in more rural areas. Running in the street has additional safety precautions that a runner should take; sometimes referred to as “runner's etiquette.” Some examples include but are not limited to: Always run against traffic so you’re able to see incoming vehicles. One study of more than 250 pedestrian accidents in Finland found a 77% decrease in accidents involving fatalities and injuries when the pedestrians were traveling facing traffic. Be extra cautious around blind corners and in hilly areas, if you have to switch to the opposite side of the road make sure you’re actively watching for traffic coming from both directions. If running with a partner, it’s best to run single-file. If you’re inclined to wear headphones or earbuds when running, try to utilize only one at a time. Being able to hear potential danger is just as important as being able to see it.
Wear the Correct Footwear
Lots of sneakers on the market are geared towards runners, it’s recommended you stick with a design that was created to support the areas of the foot hit hardest with each stride to limit injury. If you’re shopping at the local run store, you can find a sales associate who can explain your best options. If you’ve been running in a pair of shoes, by all means, bring the shoes to the shop with you; the bottom of your shoe is a roadmap of how you strike the ground and can help the associate find the most suitable option. The shoe you choose should be more functional than fashionable, it should wrap comfortably around your foot, it shouldn’t pinch or feel sloppy, and your foot should be centered on the sole of the shoe. A lesser-known tip for choosing the best running shoe is to shop at the end of the day when your feet are most swollen and will likely resemble your feet post-run. When measuring for fit, you’ll want to leave a thumbs-width space between your big toe and the end of the shoe to accommodate foot spread.
Dressing for the weather is important, overheating or being too cold can wreak havoc on your comfortability while running. Additionally, and almost more importantly, is dressing to increase your visibility. In the rain or snow, and at dawn, dusk, or when it is dark out, it’s especially important to wear highly visible, reflective, neon or contrasting colors to help drivers see you. It's also smart to clip a flashing light to your clothing for extra visibility.
We've compiled a list of our favorite apparel and accessories to increase visibility for an added layer of safety while running:
1. Reflective Runners Pack in Flouro Yellow, or Green
2. LifeBrite Active Women's Running Shorts in Radiant Red
3. LifeBrite Active Men's Athletic T-shirt in Graphic Green
Stay safe out there, runners! It's a collective effort to maintain safety while still enjoying the experience of an outdoor run.