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Safety and Injury Prevention for Runners
- Warm up before starting your runs.
- Alternate hard days and easy days, and plan 1-2 days per week for rest or cross training.
- Do not add miles too fast. For example, you can increase your total weekly mileage by 10% per week.
- Ease into speed workouts by throwing a few short distance surges or uphill sprints into your normal runs. Once this becomes routine, slowly progress to track workouts.
- Replace your running shoes every 300-400 miles. Over time, your shoes lose their ability to absorb shock.
- Drink early and drink often—a few ounces every 15-20 minutes. By the time you feel thirsty, you are already on the way to dehydration.
- For workouts lasting 60 minutes or less, plain water is all you need. For longer workouts, add a sports drink, which provides fluid as well as some carbohydrates and electrolytes.
- Wear light, bright-colored, and/or reflective clothing.
- Run facing the traffic.
- If you run in the city, pay close attention to streetlights, pedestrians, and traffic. Many drivers do not expect runners to be in the city and may not be looking out for you.
- Do not run with headphones. It prevents you from hearing approaching people or cars.
- Always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back.
- Carry some kind of identification or write your name and phone number on your running shoes. If you have a health condition, wear a medical alert bracelet or ID tag with pertinent information.
Do Not Be an Easy Target
- Be aware of your surroundings and stay in an area that you're familiar with.
- Do not run in secluded areas.
- Use discretion in acknowledging strangers. Look directly at others and be observant, but keep your distance and keep moving.
- Vary your runs, both time and route.
- Find a buddy to run with—a friend, a dog, or a running club.
- Carry a whistle or shrill alarm to call for help, if needed.
- Do not run too close to bushes or parked cars where someone could hide.
- Do not wear jewelry.
- Be careful if anyone in a car asks you for directions. If you answer, keep at least a full arm's length from the car.
- If you think you are being followed, change direction and head for open stores, groups of people, or a lighted house.
Dress Appropriately for the Temperature
- Dress in layers. The innermost should be a wicking fabric, such as polypropylene, and the outer layer should be of wind-resistant and breathable material, such as Gore-Tex.
- Avoid overdressing. It is better to feel a bit underdressed and chilly as you start out. As you run, your body temperature will rise.
- Wear a hat and gloves. You can take them off as you heat up and pull them back on when needed. The best material for your hat is wool or synthetic material.
- Wear absorbent socks, such as polypropylene or acrylic.
- Warm up well before going out.
- When running on wet or icy surfaces, shorten your stride and run slower than usual. If you have the choice of running on snow or ice, choose snow because it offers better traction.
- On windy days, run out against the wind and return with the wind at your back. This will lessen the chilling effect of the wind on your body after you have perspired, and make the return trip easier.
- Try to miss the hottest times of the day by running early in the morning or late in the evening.
- Wear sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher.
- Wear lightweight clothing.
- Stay hydrated before, during, and after your runs.
Stay Safe When Traveling, Too
- Ask the hotel staff or concierge for safe routes to run.
- Check out your course on a map before you start and bring the map along with you.
- Remember the street address of the hotel. Carry a card with your hotel address along with your personal ID.
- Leave your room key with the front desk.
- Follow your usual safety rules.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://orthoinfo.aaos.org
Road Runners Club of America http://www.rrca.org
Run Canada http://www.runcanada.ca
Running Room Online http://www.runningroom.ca
Cold weather running tips. Road Runners Club of America website. Available at: http://www.rrca.org/education-advocacy/cold-weather-running-tips/. Accessed March 7, 2013.
Hot weather running tips. Road Runners Club of America website. Available at: http://www.rrca.org/education-advocacy/hot-weather-running-tips/. Accessed March 7, 2013.
How much fluid should I drink during endurance events? Association of International Marathons and Distance Races website. Available at: http://aimsworldrunning.org/guidelines%5Ffluid%5Freplacement.htm. Published May 6, 2006. Accessed March 7, 2013.
Pereles D. Stretching before a run does not prevent injury. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.aaos-annualmeeting-presskit.org/2011/clinicalpressreleases/Stretching%5FBefore.html. Published February 17, 2011. Accessed March 7, 2013.
RRCA general running safety tips. Road Runners Club of America website. Available at: http://www.rrca.org/education-advocacy/rrca-general-running-safety-tips/. Accessed March 7, 2013.
Running injury prevention. McKinley Health Center website. Available at: http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/handouts/running%5Finjury%5Fprevent/running%5Finjury%5Fprevent.html. Accessed March 7, 2013.
Running shoe life. Net Wellness website. Available at: http://www.netwellness.uc.edu/healthtopics/healthyweight/Runningshoelife.cfm. Updated January 26, 2010. Accessed March 7, 2013.
Selecting and effectively using sports drinks, carbohydrate gels, and energy bars. American College of Sports Medicine website. Available at: http://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/selecting-and-effectively-using-sports-drinks-carbohydrate-gels-and-energy-bars.pdf. Accessed March 7, 2013.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 03/2013
- Update Date: 03/07/2013