Health Advocate Blog

Smart safety tips for runners

Running is an excellent way to get your recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise. But it’s important to take precautions to stay safe and minimize your risk of injury. The below tips can help you get on the path to safer running.

Start slow

When starting a new running program, be cautious of how you increase the volume and intensity of your training sessions. To avoid injuries, it is best to slowly increase the miles you put in over time.

Gradually increasing your mileage can help you avoid crossing this point and getting injured. Give your body time to adjust! A good rule of thumb is the 10% rule: Do not increase speed or mileage by more than 10% at a time.

One thing at a time

When you’re looking to improve your running, focus on just one goal at a time. For example, if you work on increasing your speed, only focus on this—do not also try to increase your distance at the same time.

Don’t overdo it

Rest is critical. Schedule days off from running to let your body recover.

Be mindful

It’s important to be aware of signs of injury. Some common signs of injury include persistent or severe pain, swelling, restricted movement or sensations of giving way. If you notice any of these signs, or any other potential signs of injury, stop your workout! Be sure to follow up with a doctor (such as your primary care physician or a physical therapist) to help identify and treat your injury. And be sure to follow their recommendations for when to start running again.

Keep yourself hydrated

You can lose between six and 12 ounces of fluid for every 20 minutes of running. Replenishing this water loss is very important. Drink 10 to 15 ounces of fluid (water is best!) 10 to 15 minutes prior to running and every 20 to 30 minutes along your route. Weigh yourself before and after a run. For every pound lost, drink one pint of fluid.

Plan for your environment

If you run outdoors, these tips can help you stay safer.

  • Be smart about sun protection. Before you go outside to run, apply a waterproof SPF 50 sunscreen. Wear sunglasses to filter out UVA and UVB rays, and wear a hat with a visor to shade your eyes and face.
  • Pick the right time. During hot weather, run in the early morning or evening to avoid heat exhaustion. Especially if you have seasonal allergies, avoid running when pollen levels are high.
  • Running in high altitudes? Gradually acclimate yourself to lower oxygen levels by slowly increasing your speed and distance.
  • Be visible. If you run at dusk or dawn, wear reflective material. Also consider wearing lights that attach to your shoes, wrist, or clothing that can make you more visible to drivers.
  • Be alert. Be mindful of your headphone volume so you can hear what’s happening in your surroundings.
  • Choose the best surface to run on. Whenever possible, run on a clear, smooth, resilient, even, and reasonably soft surface like grass, a path, or a rubber track. When running on a curve, such as a running track, reverse direction halfway through your run so that you have even pressure on both feet during the run.

And remember, if you are new to running, make sure to talk to your doctor before you get started.