10 Road-Running Safety Tips from a Pro

Read these before you hit the road

Disturbing reports from Discovery say more than 60% of South African women overweight/obese, and that ours is one of the world’s most overweight nations. Urgh. The good news is, no matter where in South Africa you live or what your BMI is, it’s easy to kick your health into gear – with running.

Related: You Can’t Use Exercise to Beat a Bad Diet

‘Nothing makes me feel more alive than running, especially in international races or among thousands of athletes,’ says marathon star Mapaseka Makhanya, who was voted Sportswoman of the Year at the 2013 South African Sports Awards. ‘It’s a social sport but it can also be very solitary – training for a race often takes place in that space where it’s just you, your running shoes and the road.’

Running alone is no picnic – and not really recommended – in a country with soaring crime stats, lack of consideration on the roads and the occasional short-tempered dog with too much energy. So whether you’re a half-marathon junkie or a jogging beginner, you’ll need a solid safety plan before you hit the tarmac. These 10 tips, put together by Makhanya and identification and safety-solutions company iLiveSafe (of which she is the brand ambassador), will help you kick butt on the road:

1 Communicate. Before you go, send a text or leave a note for your SO/family, including the time you leave and the route you’ll be taking.

2 Take ID. It’s a good idea to have some sort of identification with you, such as a medical-aid membership card.

3 Be visible. Bright clothing and reflective gear will help you stay visible to often-distracted road-users. Get a headlamp if you plan to run at night.

4 Stay alert. If you run early in the morning or late in the evening, the drivers on the road at those times might not be at their most awake.

Related: How to Squeeze in Exercise when You Have No Time

5 Run towards traffic to have a better view of oncoming cars and move out of the way if necessary.

6 Move over to the shoulder/pavement when running on narrow roads or in heavy traffic.

7 Turn down the volume. It’s great to work out to pumping beats – but you won’t hear an approaching car or warning shouts if your music is too loud. Keep it down, or take one of the earpieces out.

8 Keep your head up. Be extra careful when running up hills. Motorists could get hit by glare when driving over a crest, so it’s up to you to stay out of their way.

9 Think car. As much as we want drivers to be considerate towards us, we need to do them the same courtesy. Mind your manners and thank them if they make way for you.

10 Know your limits. If you’re just starting out, don’t try to run 15km in the first week. Do what feels comfortable or you’ll risk serious injury.

Related: 7 Ways to Love Your Workout

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