It’s the age old question, do you run with or against traffic? Let’s dive right in and explore why seasoned runners and the pros will give you this answer: you should run against traffic!
It might seem counterintuitive, to run facing oncoming traffic, but there is a sound methodology behind the answer to the age old question of should you run with or against traffic. And it involves putting actionable knowledge and safety in the hands of the runner, versus solely in the hands of the driver.
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Table of Contents
Why You Should Always Run Against Traffic
There are several important reasons why you should always run against traffic:
- you can see what is coming – being able to see what is coming allows you time to react to dangers such as distracted or disabled drivers. Running against traffic is much safer than having cars at your back and dangers that you cannot see, anticipate, and react to. As runners, it is crucial to be able to proactively and defensively react.
- put safety in your own hands – when you can see what is coming, you are able to take safety into your own hands. You can make sure that you can get out of the way, if the oncoming car (or other obstacle) creates an imminent threat.
- it might just be the law – in some places it is the law that runners and walkers face oncoming traffic
- the United States Department of Transportation states to run against traffic (or walk) – “If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible”
- beneficial for both runners and drivers – when you run against traffic, it is actually beneficial for both runner and driver, because eye contact can be made, and this positioning allows both parties to see each other
>MORE: Find yourself running solo? Follow these 7 tips to conquer running alone!
Is Running Against Traffic the Entire Solution?
When you run against traffic, you increase your own safety significantly. But regardless, that does not mean that your responsibility ends there. Even when you run against traffic, you still maintain the responsibility to stay alert and aware.
Running against traffic should not enable you to feel that you can let down your guard. In a world of handheld phones and other distractions, never assume a driver can or does see you, even if you are following the rules and running against traffic.
Also, it is important to note that if a sidewalk is available, it is recommended to always use that first. In addition, whether on a road or sidewalk, continuously watch for obstacles or outlying situations, like turning vehicles that may cross your path.
Other Safety Recommendations
In addition to running against traffic, here are a couple other safety recommendations for runners.
- Wear bright and/or reflective clothing
- Avoid using headphones
- Take extra care around blind curves and hills – fact, hills and blind curves are seen as a small exception to the rule of running against traffic. Judging on the hill or blind curve, oncoming traffic may be “blind” to you and not see you until they are literally right on top of you. In cases like these, it is generally regarded as safer to cross over to the other side plenty in advance of the hill or blind curve, and run with traffic until you have cleared the curve or hill, and can return to the other side and safely resume running against traffic.
>MORE: Take on those hills with these 7 steps to successful and beneficial uphill running!
- Avoid running at night
- Avoid roads that may be badly lit
- Know your running route in advance, and let someone know where you are running and when you plan to be finished
- Run with the right gear – you will need a few basics of course, and investing in the right kind of running gear increases your comfort level, as well as your safety and responsiveness.
Running Gear Basics:
Here’s a few of the running basics you should run with:
- Shoes – it is always recommended to go to a running store and have your gait analyzed for recommendations. That being said, my go to road running shoe for decades, including every half and full marathon completed to date, have been run in Brooks Glycerins. I trust the support and cushion of this extremely reputable and well respected brand of running shoe!
- Socks – your shoes are only as good as the socks you pair with them! The quickest way to derail a run is to have blisters form. I used to suffer from blisters, especially on longer runs, until I discovered Hilly Twin Skin socks! It is the “twin skin” layers that minimize the friction that causes blisters. Haven’t had a single one since switching to Twin Skins!
- Water transportation system – always have a way to stay hydrated, whether that is knowing in advance where the water fountains are on your route, or having your own water transportation system on your person. As far as water bottles go, can’t beat an insulated Hydro Flask! Want something more suited for larger quantities of water and something that can hydrate on the go? Check out this Camelback water hydration vest with water bladder, perfect for efficiency and longer runs! Another version of water transportation systems I use as a somewhat “in between” option of the first two mentioned, is a water bottle belt that can carry a bottle as well as several personal items in its storage pockets.
- Personal Items – you will need a way to carry your personal items on you. Aside from pockets, another option is a water bottle belt, like the one mentioned above, that can transport water and personal items all in one! Or you can go with a simple belt option that is just for personal items, like this Flip Belt!
>MORE: Want more running gear recommendations? Check out my full newbie running checklist!
Now that you know the rules of the road and the answer to whether you run with or against traffic, where will your next run take you?
Ready to up your running game? Go from 1st stride to finish line with this my collection of half marathon and marathon training calendars, running checklists, training ebooks, and handy printables HERE in the shop!
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