Run Safe – Crossing Intersections – Run – Be Aware – Runner – Be Safe – Marathon
Unless you run all of your miles on the treadmill.
Unless you always run on trails.
Unless you have your own private Olympic sized track to run laps on, sooner or later you’re going to have to venture across a four way intersection, a traffic circle or some other juncture where your running path and the roadway meet.
The difference between a successful run and one that ends in tragedy can very well be how you approach crossing these intersections. The difference between a run that leads to a personal record or one that may lead to a near death experience could be in the clues you missed while standing on the sidewalk or approaching one of these crossroads. To avoid the latter of these examples use your natural senses to help you arrive alive on the opposite side of the street. We were created with the five senses. The sense of sound, sight, touch, taste and smell help us make our way in and around the world. It could be how we use three of these senses that just might keep us upright and alive.
SOUND: Pay attention to the sounds around you. The sounds of the vehicles on the road and those sitting at the intersection you’re wishing to cross hold valuable information. This may not make me popular but…running with music in their ears may just hide these clues. I get that it makes the time fly, I get that it helps the mental side of running and the tunes can improve the flow of your run. BUT, music also makes me lose touch with the sounds of the world around me. When crossing an intersection, I pay particular attention to the sounds of the traffic at that intersection. I note the overall sound, does the crossing sound active or at rest. Once I determine that the intersection as a whole is still I turn my attention to the path that I must cross and the vehicles along that path. Is the engine of the vehicle, whose path I must cross, idling or is it accelerating. By noting the sound of the powerplant which propels the car, truck or bus, I get a better gauge on the intent of that driver as I consider stepping foot into the intersection.
SIGHT: Ensure you make eye contact with the driver(s) to ensure they see you, don’t assume anything. As I approach an intersection I look for a few key visual observations. One is the driver themselves…I want to ensure they see me and I see them. I want to see that they are engaged in operating the vehicle they are in control of. I want to see with my own eyes that they are not distracted by a cell phone, CD player or GPS device. I want to see that they see and acknowledge me. I also pay close attention to the visual clues of the car, truck or bus, do I see movement of the wheels, and an intent displayed by the turn signals.
Along with sight I always remind myself, its the car truck or bus that I don’t see will be the one to kill. Sight perhaps your most important sense but don’t over value it…be cautious of what you don’t see and expect the unexpected.
TOUCH: You don’t have to reach out and feel the traffic, but you can feel the vibration of approaching traffic. Whether running down the road or at an intersection. Tune into the vibrations of the traffic around you to help keep you safe. Pay attention to the vibration of the road. Likewise the vibrations at the intersection can help you determine whether that car, truck or bus is truly at a standstill or is it just beginning to move. To keep myself safe, I will not enter an intersection unless I can sense that all vehicles in my path and those which may enter my path are at a state of zero movement.
I will add in the sense of awareness, I-Pods, work and personal events, day dreaming or becoming totally lost in your miles can take away from your awareness of the situation your run has put you into. Just like a quarterback in the NFL needs to have “pocket awareness” to feel an on rushing linebacker before he gets hit blindsided. A runner must be aware of the forever changing world around them. Like the NFL QB runners must be hyper aware of anything that is or could possibility encroach on their personal space.
A run along a country road or one weaving among city streets does not have to be an outing that threatens your health or your very life. Buy paying closer attention to your basic senses of sound, sight and touch with awareness you’ll be better equipped to avoid an unfortunate mishap at the intersections we must all eventually cross to continue on our run.