Safety Tips for Runners

My personal preference is to run where there’s traffic and people around versus running on a secluded trail.  But I have to take precautions with this. Traffic can sometimes be dangerous especially with distracted drivers everywhere.  Here are some safety tips for runners to help you navigate your runs around town and in warmer temps.   

Safety Tips for Runners in Milwaukee

Make sure you can be seen. 

All those bright neon colors that have come back from the ‘80’s - wear them.  Know that if you wear dark colors you can easily blend in with your surroundings, especially in shady environments making it difficult to be spotted.   

Make sure drivers see you. 

So you have the bright chartreuse tank top on and neon green shorts.  Can’t be missed, right? Think again. I’ve witnessed many times when I’ve approached a car from the passenger side while they’re turning right only to assume they see me but that wasn’t the case.  Drivers will always look to their left to see if traffic is coming their way but not always to the right. I’ve learned that I have to make eye contact with the driver or I don’t go. Even when eye contact is made, I wait for a hand signal that they’re letting me go.  Pedestrians should get the right of way but it’s not worth your or my life to prove that point.  

Same goes for alleys or driveways. 

Make sure drivers see you before running in front of any vehicle.  When drivers let you go or give you extra space on the road, give them a wave of appreciation.  They’re making your day better and a simple wave might make their day better, too.

If you run before the sun comes up or after it sets, your rainbow bright outfit won’t be enough.  Wear a headlamp, bring a flashlight, wear reflective clothing, light up armband, vest, anything to help you to be seen.  Most running shoes have reflectors on them somewhere and there are lots of options for shorts or shirts nowadays that have reflective strips or other markings on them.  

If your option is to run in the heat of the day, stick to shaded areas when able.

Neighborhoods with mature trees, local parks, or trails can help keep your body temperature just a little cooler than running in the hot blast of the summer sun.  Wear a hat or visor, sunglasses, and carry water to help keep you cool. I prefer to wear a visor so I can pour water directly on my head when temps or humidity get extreme. The visor allows direct contact with the water on my head to cool me down while keeping the water out of my eyes.  For me, it’s a win-win.

I also wear a hat when running in the rain to keep the rain off my face. 

It can get annoying quickly to constantly wipe rain off your face and can be painful to get pelted in the face from heavy rainfall.  If the sky has gotten dark due to a rainstorm, it’s best to follow the same precautions as when running before sunrise or after sunset.  

Remember to care for your skin.

Chaffing can happen anytime of the year but I find when I’m wearing less clothing in summer, sweating more, and pouring water on myself, that’s when things can start to stick.  Applying a body glide or other anti-chafe cream can help save your skin especially for the post-run shower (those of you who have chaffed before know just what I’m talking about).  Sunscreen is also important to protect your skin from cancer, sunburn, and wrinkles. Running helps us look and feel younger! We don’t want to feel 38 but look 98 because of skin damage.      

Water consumption is vital when running in the summer heat and humidity. 

Carry water with you and know where you can stop to refuel if necessary. Your body also loses electrolytes through sweat so if you’re running for a long enough period of time (90 mins or so, or longer), a beverage with electrolytes or salt tablets can help your body retain fluid and prevent muscle cramps.

Don’t forget to watch your step!

Look for potholes, curbs, rocks, fallen tree branches and anything at eye level.  It can be sensory overload when out for a run as it’s important to hear and see what’s going on around you at all times.  Keep an eye on the ground and one up ahead to avoid anything in your way.

With all this information it may seem a bit overwhelming to just “go for a run”.  Don’t forget why you’re running, be grateful for every run, and remember to have fun!

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Carey Grafwallner