Since launching our Pinks and Greens running shop, we get lots of questions from women who want to start running or add running to their workout routine. While the perception is that running is so much “safer” than other sports because there is very little risk of concussions or torn ACLs, the truth is, there are hidden hazards in every sport, and running is no exception. We recently sat down with PG Run Pro and two time Olympian Vicki Rudawsky to talk about her favorite running tips. Here’s all the things you need to know when you head out for a run.
Q: I’ve decided to head out for a quick run around my neighborhood every morning before work. Aside from having a good pair of sneakers, is there anything else I need to know?
The best road running tip I can offer is to always be aware of your environment. The biggest hazard is cars and the fact that drivers may be distracted and not see you. If you are running on heavily traveled streets, make sure you run facing traffic. This way not only can the drivers see you, but you can see them coming at you and react if the driver is distracted. I am always scanning the area to have a place to bail if I need to – I have had to jump in the bushes more than a few times to avoid swerving cars! Another one of my tips for running is to wear clothes with reflective elements. You want to make sure you can be seen in low light.
Q: Anything else I should know about road running?
Well if you run in the early morning or early evening, you also need to be aware of sun glare. If you’ve ever driven into the sun at dawn or dusk, then you know how blinding it can be as a driver. Very often they cannot see you until they are right on top of you! If you want to do early morning runs, then be aware of this issue on run on a side where driver vision is not affected.
Q: Yikes! Perhaps I better stick to trail running. That seems a little safer.
You will certainly avoid traffic on the trails, but there are other issues if you go that route. Be aware — often the ground is uneven from roots and rocks. If you run in a heavily wooded area, you may also see bears from time to time. I run with a group, and sometimes we hear shots in the distance when we are out on the trails in the early morning. Even though hunting is prohibited on the trails where we run, I recommend you read the signs and be sure you are not in a hunting area! Many state parks do allow hunting at certain times of the year, so pay attention as they will post signs to let runners and bikers know when they are closed. And if you see caution tape across a trailhead, do not ignore it! They are not kidding with you — it is always there for a reason! My last trail running tip would be to wear bright colors. From a safety standpoint it is essential to be visible and you can flaunt your style at the same time!
Q: Sometimes when I am running on the trails I pass a person walking their dog. I like dogs but sometimes it freaks me out. Do you have any tips for running past animals?
I love dogs too, but they some can be startled easily especially if they do not know you. It’s always important to exercise caution even if the owner tells you the dog is friendly. If you are afraid of dogs, the worst thing you can do is turn and run away as the dog will think you want to be chased! The safest thing to do is to stop and walk slowly away. And don’t stare at the dog — it may perceive this as a threat.
Q: Any advice for running in the rain? I just bought this great rain jacket that shows a print when it gets wet and I am actually hoping for rain!
For the most part, running in the rain is relatively safe. Be sure to wear protective gear and clothing that wicks away moisture. However, do not take any unnecessary risks! Heavy rain, thunderstorms, lightning, hail are high winds are NOT worth the risk. If you think the weather is going to take turn for the worse, cut your run short or keep to a loop near to your home or car so you can get away quickly if the weather changes.
Q: Aside from wearing sunscreen on sunny days, is there anything else weather-related I should know about?
Believe it or not, running into the wind can cause issues. You can over-exert yourself and that can be a major issue for some people. Try to plan your route so that you are running into the wind on the way out and have the wind at your back on the way home. Be extra careful on the trails as heavy winds can blow down branches or even small trees.
Q: I live in the Northeast and we get a lot of snow. I love to run outside and I don’t want to let winter weather hold me back. Any tips?
The biggest issue in the winter is black ice! Most people do not see it until it is too late and there is nothing you can do to keep yourself from falling hard on the ground. The best advice for winter runs is to try to run during the daylight so you can see the ground ahead of you. It’s especially dangerous when there is a light coating of snow as you may not see the ice underneath. This may be a good time to run on the trails as even when there is a light snow covering, there is always traction on the trails. And I recommend using Yak Trak for running in deeper snow. These are amazing in helping you keep your balance.
Q:Any final tips for running?
Overall, the best running tip I can offer is to trust your instincts! Running is an extremely safe sport, but you need to constantly be aware of your surroundings and make good choices. If you think it might be dangerous to run outside, it probably is!
Vicki Huber Rudawsky is Pinks and Greens PG Run Pro. A true running superstar, she competed in both the 1988 and 1996 Olympic games, placing 6th in the 3000 meters in 1988. She also writes for our blog. To read more about Vicki, click here.