Last Wednesday night, I decided to take advantage of the warm evening air and go for a run. About a mile in, I came upon another runner who was on the other side of the road, running in the same direction. As we exchanged strides, I began to wonder if I was on the right side of the road. My question was soon answered by a SUV that passed me with only inches to spare. After my close call, I decided to look into some basic safety measures for runners and share them.



  • Location and Time: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 4,092 pedestrians and 630 pedalcyclists killed nationwide by vehicle crashes in 2009 alone. That same year, NHTSA also reported 116,000 related injuries. With that being said, it might be good idea to pick routes that are completely away from traffic. There are a number of running trails and parks in Billings that are available.  However, with high gas prices and a busy schedule, driving somewhere to run somewhere is not the best option for everybody. Runners that plan to run in areas where traffic is a factor should try not to do so during peak hours of traffic.
  • Presence: The best way to avoid getting hit is to be aware of the situation and to be visible. In my case, I was on the wrong side of the road. When running alongside a road, it is important to run alongside the lane facing traffic. This allows a runner to see a potential hazard-on-wheels coming from a distance. Being visible is also a factor that is the runner's responsibility. While Billings has done right by banning cell phone use behind the wheel, that does not mean everyone listens to the law. Runners should carry a light or wear reflective clothing in order to be noticed by on coming drivers.
  • Hydration: Yes, it is true, water is good for you. There is no substitute for water, and unless you are drinking in the recommend daily amount (3 liters for men and 2.2 liters for women), that post-run euphoria might be accompanied by some serious cramping. Hydration needs to happen well before and after running. This does not mean you should try downing a liter 10 minutes before a run.
  • Accountability: In the unfortunate event that you get injured while out on a jog, you need to have a backup plan. Yes, cell phones are handy, but they are not always a sure bet. It is important to let someone know when you are heading out and what route you are taking. Another aspect of accountability is identification. Be sure to carry some sort of ID on your person while running, should the worst happen.
  • Shoes: Experienced runners are into shoes, and with good reason. Having the right shoe type for your feet is a great way to prevent unnecessary aces and pains. Depending on the surface, running can create a lot of impact on bones and joints. For this reason, it is a good idea to speak with someone who can identify your foot type and help pick out the right type of shoe.

These safety tips may seem pretty simple, but after a whole winter of being stuck inside on a treadmill, runners can forget the basics. Stay safe, and happy running!

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