Safe Running: How to Minimize Risk from the Dangers of Running

RunningRunning is something I do to keep fit and healthy, and hopefully live longer in the process.  However, it is not without its risks.  The good news is that there are things you can do to minimize those risks.

These three places or situations present the greatest risk to runners–especially to those that do long runs:

  1. Crossing a street
  2. Coming across dogs
  3. Sidewalk or street hazards

Crossing a Street

The primary danger in crossing a street is being hit by a car.  This can happen is if you aren’t paying attention before crossing a street and the car driver fails to see you.  To reduce the chance of getting hit take actions that doesn’t depend on the alertness of the driver.  You need to take actions that put you in control of the situation instead of hoping the driver will see you.

The first thing you should be doing is running against car traffic.  This will allow you to see oncoming cars and take action to avoid them should they go out of control and possibly run over you.  This is just a basic prerequisite to safe running.

The most dangerous situation can occur when crossing a street as illustrated  in Figure 1.

Figure 1.  Crossing a Street

Figure 1. Crossing a Street

Before crossing a street, common sense tells us to check all directions.   You’ll need to watch out for cars that are turning into or out of the street you are about to cross.

A car in position 1 (see Figure 1), for example, would have a better chance of seeing you, the runner, before you cross the street.  if you can definitely tell the driver is going to let you pass before crossing, you can cross, but proceed with caution.

The car in position 2, is concentrating on cars going the opposite direction.  As such, he may or may not see you.  Do not take a chance, just let that car turn before crossing the street.  The only time you should cross before the car in position 2 turn is if there are cars blocking the path of the car in position 2.

A car in position 3 is probably the worst one.  That driver is concentrating on turning right, spending most of his time checking traffic coming from the left.  He can easily not see you.  The solution is easy.  Just run around the rear of the car, totally removing the risk of getting run over.  Just make sure there are no other cars going in the opposite direction though.

Coming Across Dogs

Figure 2.  Beware! Cute Dog

Figure 2. Beware! Cute Dog

When I run, I usually run across a dog or two.  Most dogs I see are behind a fence.  These are the noisy ones that bark at anything or anyone moving.  These are probably the least dangerous of them all, unless they figure out a way to get through, over, or under the fence.

Dogs that are being taken out by their masters for a walk are also possible risks when running.  When you see a dog on a leash, you can’t tell how well that dog is trained, even if it looks cute, cuddly, and friendly.  So continue to be cautious and keep you distance.

Remember, all dogs have an inner instinct to run after anything running–that means you the runner.  You can tell if their master is taking control of their dog when they start pulling the leash shorter, ensuring the dog cannot reach you should it decide to take a bite of you.

The most dangerous dog are those that are just out lose.  Although they are probably domesticated, they may have already developed some wild instincts to chase after things.  if you do see a dog like this, either stop jogging to see how the dog reacts, or cross the street away from the dog so that it doesn’t get close enough to chase you.  You’ll know when a dog is after you!  If your avoidance tactics fail, and you find yourself  face to face with a chasing dog, act like your reaching for the ground.  Most dogs will stop.  If the dog continues to come closer, really pick up a rock and throw it at the dog.  If you are on open ground, it would be no use trying to run; you’ll lose.  However, if there are obstacles or structures the dog can’t handle, use those to your advantage.

Sidewalk or Street Hazards

If you are a long distance runner or are doing a long run, more than likely you are running on the street or sidewalk.  Watch out for the following:

  1. Uneven pavement —  you can easily get tripped up by an uneven pavement
  2. Oil spillage from cars — you can slip on oil spillage
  3. Pot holes — stepping unexpectedly on a pothole can cause some serious injuries
  4. Sandy sidewalk — sand can get slippery when you are stepping a thin layer of it
  5. Overgrown tree root–tree root can become a sidewalk hazard to runner if they start to pop up and force concrete sidewalk slabs to jut up on one end

Final Notes

Running can help you fit and healthy provided you stay alert and heed the warnings of this article.  If you don’t, you could be shortening your life or putting yourself in danger of getting injured.

So watch out for cars, dogs, and street hazards.  Enjoy safe running.


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