My first 20 miler for marathon training was fraught with nerves for me – not whether I could do it, or even keep my pace. It was more WHERE was I going to run for 20 miles? I seriously considered just running on the treadmill for 20 miles. I had already run up to 18 miles on the treadmill before because I was worried to go running on the road for that far.
However I can’t actually live in bubble, and I knew I just needed to get over my fear. Still – I felt so stupid – people in Marin love endurance events. Bikers, hikers, runners, triathletes. This had to be easier than I was making it.
I kept taking my car and driving places with my GPS watch running. I would drive what I thought was far and then promptly run out of road that was “safe” to run on. The funny thing about living in the Bay Area is you drive all the time – over bridges, long overpasses, ect. Additionally – with the traffic, those drives can easily take an hour or more. One fender bender that you aren’t even involved in can take over your whole day.
The first time I went to go run a 12 miler, I decided to run in the city, since that was where my race was going to be. I started to go bopping out the door of my boyfriend’s apartment, all excited for my first long run. He asked what my route was going to be. I told him I would do what I do what I always do when running somewhere new – run 6 miles out and 6 miles back. He looked at me incredulously and told me I would run to Oakland. The city is only 7×7 miles – so that wasn’t really going to work.
I digress though – for The Big 20 Miler – I ended up calling my local running store. This is a GREAT way to get recommendations of where to go run. I told them my race was pretty flat, so I’d like a flat road to run on for 10 miles out and back, or 20 miles point to point – either way. They recommended a loop and I drove part of it before I ran it. Ironically, this path was “Marin flat” – only 800 ft elevation gain. Aka hilly to rest of the world. I decided to do it anyway though. It was near a lot of neighborhoods I knew, and it was really pretty.
This road is so twisty it has those safety blind spot mirrors everywhere!
One thing that I didn’t realize until after I had been running for a while was how twisting and turning the road was. Normally you are always told to run against traffic. However on some of the blind corners, I didn’t feel so good about that. People would come bombing around corners and I didn’t want to be the first thing they saw when looking up from their phone. This road always has a lot of bikers, and they always ride WITH traffic. I ended up splitting it both ways – I ran against traffic for the most part, but for the blind corners, I tailed behind the bikes.
Here are my safety rules for road running:
- Be seen – if you only remember one thing, make it this. The drivers aren’t looking for you, so you better be looking for them. Wear your bright obnoxious colors too.
Please note my BB-8 head band!
2. Watch the drivers in the cars. Are they looking up? Down at their phone? Give a little wave to make clear that you are running and want a little space.
3. Check the road shoulder – is there a place to bail? Make sure there is.
4. Assume the cars aren’t going to move for you. This is a road for cars. Not for runners or bikes. It would be lovely if everyone shared, but they won’t.
5. Bring hydration and fuel – more than you think you need for the longer runs. What if you drop a gel and it gets all gross? What if one or two fall out of your pocket you thought was zipped?
6. Bring your ID, a credit card and $20 bucks. You never know. What if you want to buy a pizza and take a cab home half way through? Options people.
7. Find some way to identify yourself. Hopefully you’ll never be in a situation where you are unconscious, but you need to be prepared in case it does happen. I used to write down some emergency numbers and my blood type and put them in my arm band of my phone. Now I have a Road ID. Either way, it is a step that I can’t stress enough. Take the Murphy’s Law approach – if you always have your emergency info – it will hopefully lesson your chances of needing it.
I have “The Wrist ID Slim”
8. Run on the side of the road that has the best visibility – this may not always mean running against traffic.
9. Keep your volume low if you are running with ear buds.
10. Make sure someone knows where you are going and when you will be back. Have a game plan.
11. Try to avoid running at dusk or in the dark. Wear reflective clothing if it is overcast.
Lastly – I would recommend checking out this link for etiquette for runners.
What are your safety tips?