]]>Running]]> is an excellent way to stay fit, relieve stress, and spend time outdoors. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned strider, these guidelines will help keep you safe and healthy for many miles to come.

Avoid Injury

The majority of ]]>running injuries]]> occurs from over training, overuse, and improper stretching, and therefore can be prevented. Follow these tips:

  • Alternate hard days and easy days, and plan 1-2 days per week for rest or cross training.
  • Don't add miles too fast. Increase your total weekly mileage by 10% per week, and every third week drop back a small amount.
  • Ease into speed workouts by throwing a few short distance surges or uphill sprints into your normal runs. Once this becomes routine, progress to track workouts, again, starting slowly.
  • Replace your running shoes every 350-550 miles. After this much wear, the shock absorbing capacity is likely gone.
  • ]]>Stretch]]> properly, which means regularly, carefully, and thoroughly.

Stay Hydrated

Regardless of the temperature where you're running, you need to replace fluids to avoid ]]>dehydration]]>.

  • Drink early and drink often—a few ounces every 15-20 minutes; by the time you feel thirsty, you're already on the way to dehydration.
  • For workouts lasting 60-90 minutes or less, plain water is all you need. For longer workouts, add a sports drink, which provides fluid as well as some carbohydrates and electrolytes.
  • Get in the habit of drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids (not counting carbonated or caffeinated) each day.

Don't Be Anonymous

Unless you do all of your running on a ]]>treadmill]]>, prepare yourself for various obstacles out on the streets:

  • Wear light, bright-colored, and/or reflective clothing.
  • Run facing the traffic.
  • If you run in the city, pay close attention to streetlights, pedestrians, and traffic. Many drivers don't expect runners to be in the city and may not be looking out for you.
  • Don't run with a headset, it prevents you from hearing approaching people or cars.
  • Always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back.
  • Carry some kind of identification, or write your name and phone number on your running shoes. If you have a health condition, wear a medical alert bracelet or ID tag with pertinent information.

Don't Be an Easy Target

Many people enjoy the solitude of running. If you're one of them, take a few extra safety precautions:

  • Be aware of your surroundings and stay in an area that you're familiar with.
  • Don't run in secluded areas alone.
  • Use discretion in acknowledging strangers. Look directly at others and be observant, but keep your distance and keep moving.
  • Vary your runs, both time and route.
  • Find a buddy to run with—a friend, a dog, or a running club.
  • Carry a whistle or shrill alarm to summon help, if needed.
  • Don't run too close to bushes or parked cars where someone could hide.
  • Don't wear jewelry.
  • Be careful if anyone in a car asks you for directions. If you answer, keep at least a full arm's length from the car.
  • If you think you are being followed, change direction and head for open stores, groups of people, or a lighted house.

Dress Appropriately for the Temperature

Don't let weather keep you from an outdoor run. Just be sure you're prepared to face the elements.

In ]]>cold weather]]> :

  • Dress in layers. The innermost should be a "wicking" fabric, such as polypropylene, and the outer layer should be of wind-resistant and "breathable" material, such as Gore-Tex.
  • Avoid overdressing. It is better to feel a bit underdressed and chilly as you start out. As you run, your body temperature will rise about 20°F.
  • Wear a hat and gloves. You can take them off as you heat up and pull them back on when needed. More than 25% of body heat can be lost through a bare head. The best material for your hat is wool or synthetic material.
  • Wear absorbent socks, such as polypropylene or acrylic.
  • Warm up well before going out.
  • When running on wet or icy surfaces, shorten your stride and run slower than usual. If you have the choice of running on snow or ice, choose snow because it offers better traction.
  • On windy days, run out against the wind and return with the wind at your back. This will lessen the chilling effect of the wind on your body after you have perspired, and make the return trip easier.

In hot weather:

  • Try to miss the hottest times of the day by running early in the morning or late in the evening.
  • Wear sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher, or a hat to protect your face.
  • Wear light-weight shorts and a singlet rather than a t-shirt, to permit evaporation of perspiration.
  • Stay hydrated before, during, and after your runs.

Stay Safe When Traveling, Too

The beauty of running is that you can do it anywhere. When you're traveling, follow these guidelines:

  • Ask the hotel staff or concierge for safe routes to run.
  • Check out your course on a map before you start and bring the map along with you.
  • Remember the street address of the hotel. Carry a card with your hotel address along with your personal ID.
  • Leave your room key with the front desk.
  • Follow your usual safety rules.