5 Rules For Sharing The Road With A Runner

Running at Dawn

When you’re training for a marathon, you have to run long. While your middle of the week runs may be anywhere from 4-7 miles, your long run will start at around 8 miles and work its way up to 20 miles or more as you get closer to the actual marathon. No matter how fast you’re running, 10 miles or more means you are out on the roads for a long time – eventually, upwards of 3 hours. Right now, I’m running between 10 and 12 miles for my long runs and because I don’t run these particularly quickly, I can be out there for a while.

You know what you see while you’re out on the road bop-bopping along? You see nice things like birds and puppies and children playing – BUT – you also see bad things, like roadkill (identifying roadkill does pass the time, however) and garbage and people who do not know how to operate an automobile. Or at least they don’t know how to operate it when they’re sharing the road with a runner.

Ironically, the stretch on my run where I have the most trouble – though only when I run on Sundays – is the one that goes by a local church as Mass is letting out. People – if you can’t wait 3 seconds to let me get by you before you pull away from the curb, you might have missed the point of that whole Christian thing.

It really doesn’t take much to keep from seriously injuring or killing a runner (or walker), I thought I’d put together some pointers for the benefit of runner and driver alike – because, when I’m not running, I’m generally driving (or sleeping!)

Philadelphia Marathon

5 Rules for Sharing The Road with a Runner:

1. Respect runners in the road. We are running in the road because a) there is no sidewalk or b) when you log as many miles as many runners do, the slightly softer road makes a difference to our knees, etc. It might be easier for you to just not drive on the shoulder for those 2 seconds than to flip me off and point to the sidewalk.

2. When you are turning onto a one-way street or making a right-on-red, don’t just look in the direction of the oncoming traffic – look BOTH ways. Runners (and walkers) will most likely be coming from the other way because we face the traffic. And runners, this is why you ALWAYS make eye contact with the driver before you cross in front of a car. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve nearly been hit in this scenario.

3. Let us pass, please. You are in a car. It makes no difference if you pull away from the stop sign now or in 2 seconds, after I’ve run in front of you. It is a little bit harder for me to come to a screeching stop and then start again. Especially if I’m going downhill. If I hit your car, I will get hurt – your car will be fine.

4. When you see me, act like it. I am running against traffic so I can see you. I am looking for you. When you see me, it’s customary to make your way to the middle of your lane rather than closer to the shoulder. That way, I don’t have to worry that you’re on the phone and about to kill me. Which brings me to my next rule…

5. Please get off the phone and stop texting while you drive. Seriously. I run in a fairly rural area, so traffic is relatively light and the roads are wide. Last year, even though I had a 5 foot wide shoulder, and there were no other cars around, I almost got hit by a young lady texting. I could see her coming, and I could see what she was doing (see: eye contact, Rule 2, above.) She veered well onto the shoulder. Had I been looking down or less alert, she would have hit me. As it was, I had  to run into the field that abutted the road, and she simply corrected and kept going. I doubt she even realized I was there.

There’s no reason that runners and driver can’t share the road safely.

What rule would you add to these?


  1. It’s sad that you have to post rules for people to follow when they see runners on the road. You would think these things would be common sense.
    Jessica recently posted..A Failed AttemptMy Profile

  2. Great post Beth. It’s so scary how close some people get to a runner while in their car. I have some evil thoughts at times while running…along the lines of a had full of rocks begin hurled at some cell phone engaged driver while running me off the road, or a BIG stick that some how rips along the side of the car that clips my toes. It’s scary out there. We can never assume the driver sees us. Take a pro-active defense to running when cars approach.
    Joanne recently posted..McMillan Running–ThursdayMy Profile

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