What I’m writing about should be common sense – but for whatever reason, runners everywhere ignore some common and easy safety precautions while running. Stop it. Your life could depend on it.

Running in the dark

As I’ve been out running or driving in the dark early morning hours I am surprised by how many runners I’m seeing (or not seeing) out there that have zero reflective gear or lights on. Lighten up people! Your life may depend on it. It just takes a second for a driver not to see you crossing the street, running along the shoulder or at the corner. Every little bit helps.

Running in secluded areas

While many run to make the world around them temporarily disappear – the world doesn’t actually do so. Pay attention to things around you, know what’s ahead of you, and occasionally take a look at what’s behind you.

Running near vehicles

People give other drivers way too much credit for being good drivers. We live in a world of distracted drivers; they text, talk on the phone, read directions, play with their radios, eat food, do a lot of things besides just driving. In fact, in 2010, 70,000 pedestrians were injured and of those 4,280 died. This doesn’t mean you can’t listen to music while running. It just means you should stay alert around cars, like maybe turn the music down when around traffic, leave one ear bud out, stay alert, and don’t assume the drivers around you are going to do the ‘right’ thing.

Running off the beaten path

Thousands of hikers are lost each and every year – and not one of them thought about themselves as the ones who would get lost. When running off road, knowing where you’ve come from is more important than knowing where you’re going – this means, always map out in your mind the way back to your car (or however you got to the trail). Always bring water, one of the worst things that can happen is a little 5k run turns into a 10k run where you’re absolutely lost and you don’t have a drop of water. One of the many product categories the running industry has delivered on is several convenient ways to carry water while running. These products are light, comfortable, and might even save your life one day.

A couple common sense tips before heading out on the trail: Know the weather, is it going to rain or snow, be 100+ degrees? Know the weather so you can plan accordingly or avoid it all together. Always tell someone where you’ll be running and when they should expect you back. And finally, bring your phone. You don’t need to run with it on but it sure would be nice to have if you get lost, injured, or just find yourself running late.

Go One Step Further

010910_TNF_SF_Endurance10-8.jpgIf you’re an avid trail runner, go one step further than just carrying water – carry a small emergency kit. If you’re lost out in the sticks you’ll have two priorities, shelter and water. The human body can last weeks without food so it doesn’t quite rank as a top priority as weird as that sounds. If you’re dependent on medication, always bring some. Pack a small poncho, a way to start a fire, a small pocket knife, and water purification tablets – you would be amazed how those four items can make a huge difference in an unplanned evening stuck out in the woods.

If you have your own safety tips, share them in the comments.