While one of my pet peeves is when a walker walks in the middle of the road, when there is a nice sidewalk right there, I have to admit I like running on asphalt over concrete. As I was running yesterday, I wondered if running on asphalt was actually softer and better for you. I decided to do some research when I got back home.
Asphalt vs Concrete
After doing some digging, I couldn’t really find any firm evidence asphalt is better for your body (there were mixed reviews and conflicts in opinions on the topic), however, I did find evidence it is indeed softer. According to my research, concrete is approximately 10 times harder than asphalt. These surfaces are measured by pounds per square inch (psi). Asphalt can be around 400-600psi and concrete can be anywhere from 3,000-4000psi for sidewalks to 8000-10000 for airport runways. Even though I found mix reviews on the impact these surfaces have on the body, I personally believe softer is better – and if nothing else, it’s more comfortable for me to run on them.
The next issue is how to run on the asphalt safely, without irritating drivers or getting run over. If you are like me, you’ve probably complained about people on the road. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Steve say “there’s a sidewalk right there you moron”. What he really means is “I almost hit you and you scared me to death and I really wish you’d use the sidewalk so you will be safe”. However, after the guy flips you off for coming too close to him when he was running in front of the sunrise, in a blind spot, wearing all black and taking up his half of the road, “what a moron” comes out of his mouth first.
So, here are a few tips to keep you running safe, and keep everyone’s middle finger in control.
8 Safety Tips for Road Runners
1. Know that you are SUPPOSED to run on the sidewalk. Even if you choose not too, please know it is the law (at least it is here). While Florida law prohibits running on the road if there is a sidewalk nearby, I haven’t heard of anyone getting a ticket for that (YET). However, there are also laws for pedestrians to follow when sidewalks are not available. It would be smart for runners to follow these laws (since they are made for our own safety and were probably pretty well thought out) so you are as safe as possible if you choose to not run on the sidewalk. Tips #2 & #3 address those laws.
2. Run on the RIGHT side of the shoulder (to the right of traffic). The law says the first choice (if there are no sidewalks) is to run on the RIGHT of the SHOULDER. (Note, I don’t believe an extra 4 inches of asphalt constitutes a shoulder. The Federal Highway Administration defines a shoulder as “the portion of the roadway contiguous with the traveled way for accommodation of stopped vehicles for emergency use”. This means a true shoulder should be big enough to pull over safely on. I would have to ask an officer if we should run on a 6 inch piece of asphalt to really know, however, if my body can’t fit on the shoulder without crossing the line, I doubt very seriously they want you on it.) Please realize this is NOT saying to run on the right side of the road. Pedestrians should travel on the the FAR RIGHT of the shoulder OFF the road and not in the lane at all. Run to RIGHT of cars, to the RIGHT of the white line and the RIGHT of the shoulder. Got it? Good!
3. Run on the LEFT side of the road (facing traffic). If there is no shoulder, like in most cases around my neighborhood, then pedestrians should run on the LEFT side of the road. So, if you are running in a neighborhood, a country two-lane road or on a long drive, you should always be on the LEFT side of the LEFT lane going against traffic. Don’t think pedestrians have the right-of-way. They DON’T. The ONLY time you have the right-of-way is when you are using a crosswalk. And if a car comes close to you, don’t glare at them like they are the idiot. You are the one that is not where you are supposed to be. Waive politely for being in their way, thankful they didn’t run over you. If nothing else, they won’t drive by thinking fit people are dumb AND mean!
4. Move out of the way. It is polite to move to the outer edge of the road or even off the road when you see a car coming. This acknowledges that you see the car coming, and you know they have the right-of-way. Plus it’s just plain safe!
5. Be visible. It KILLS ME to see people running at dusk, dawn or even at night wearing black AND running on the road. Do you know how many times Steve or I have almost hit someone running on the road on the way to or from work, simply because they were not visible? Way too many times. Although you may not want to wear a dorky reflective vest, you can avoid wearing black, you can wear light and bright colored clothing, and you can even buy reflective clothing that is both stylish and safe. If you run during these times, you should invest in the proper gear. If you aren’t visible, then it would be better for your health to run on the sidewalk than trying to protect your joints but end up getting hit by a car. Just sayin’.
6. Turn your headphones down. I always have my headphones on when I run, but I keep them at a level where I could still hear screeching tires, a horn, siren or even someone yelling at me. If you can’t hear warning signs, you are risking unnecessary danger. If you are running at night, you may choose to not wear headphones at all so you can hear footprints if you feel you are at risk for anyone from sneaking up on you. The best way to stay safe is to increase awareness of what is going on around you at all times. If you block out noises, you just limited one of your most powerful senses.
7. Move off the road when you can’t see oncoming traffic. If you are walking around a corner or up a hill, realize oncoming traffic has no clue you are right around the corner. Your advantage is you can hear them coming. They have no advantage. You are in a blind spot and even their mere reaction to seeing you suddenly could cause them to overreact, panic or even swerve. Many people only think of what THEY can see, and not what drivers see. Just because you see someone coming doesn’t mean they see you.
8. Be nice. Seriously people. I hate to say this, but don’t be a grumpy running snob with your 4 water bottles, compression socks and competition outfit acting like you are racing for a million dollars. You are a walking (or should I say running) advertisement for fitness so be a good one! No one wants to hit a happy smiling runner. Noooo! They slow down, move over and wave a nice happy wave to that runner. If you want to get hit, have a mean scowl on your face and act like your poo don’t stink. Even if someone doesn’t choose to hit you, they may throw something at you just because they don’t like the way you look.
Share any of your own running tips or pet peeves below! I’d love to hear them!
More tips & laws for walkers and runners
Want to learn more? Read my recent blog for Answers.com, Walking and Running: 7 Rules to Stay Safe and Legal, for 4 more laws you need to know.
Do your Power Walks Lack Power? by Bonnie Pfiester, Answers.com
10 Tips to Buying Running Shoes by Bonnie Pfiester, Answers.com
Preparation Tips for Hiking by Bonnie Pfiester, Answers.com
Top 10 Running Surfaces by Runner’s World
Running on Cement, Asphalt & Grass by Livestrong
Earlier this year I developed tendonitis in my left ankle. It was so bad, I not only had to stop running, I couldn’t even walk. I went to Total Health Vero Beach for therapy, and slowly but surely it started improving. Well, after something like that gets you down, needless to say, you are a little scared to jump back in your running shoes.
with both feet.
In the last month I have a done a few short “test runs”. So far, so good, although I still had a little twinge in the ankle following the runs so I continue to be cautious – knowing that I could irritate it if I wasn’t careful and be right back where I started.
So you can understand how hard it was to hear that a bunch of peeps from our gym were going to run, what we Veroites call, “the loop” – a 5.6 mile run that goes over both our two bridges (our only real hills in our town) over the waterway to the beach. It’s a great run! It’s scenic, it’s fun, and I didn’t want to miss it! So, I decided I’d just do what I could, and if my ankle started acting up, I’d just turn around, slow down or walk if I needed to.
To my surprise, I had literally no pain. I was running in my Reebok DMX Sky running shoes which have a ton of cushion and support. I honestly think that helped a lot. I typically wear a minimalist “barely there” shoe that’s pretty flat but, since my injury, I’ve felt I needed more of a lift in my heel, as well as more cushion for a softer impact. So far, I’ve only tested my runs in this shoe and I’ve experienced no pain while running. (below i’ll talk about post-run injury prevention)
As we reached our halfway mark, overlooking the pretty water, enjoying the view, I was not just on top of the bridge, but I was on top of the world! I had no pain, I felt great and, I was ready for the next half of the run.
(This was the view at the top of the bridge. The water was like glass – just pure beauty!)
So off we went! I was SO excited! I ran the whole 5.6 mile loop without stopping (except to take these pictures! ha!) WOOOO HOOOO!
As finished up our last few steps and approached our cars, I looked at my running app to check my pace, distance and all that jazz, only to find my app quit tracking my run at 2.9 miles! Ughhhhh!! DARN IT!! Since my running app and Jawbone UP app syncs with my LoseIt app, I get super bummed when I miss out on a posting calorie burned or increased activity of any type. It almost gives you that feeling as if you didn’t do it unless you can see it, sync it and share it. lol
It reminds me of this silly facebook cartoon I’ve seen floating around facebook. I know I’m not the only runner in the world that has these silly technical error moments. However, I’m so thankful for all the fitness toys, and social media, made available today because it holds us accountable, gives us clear goals and makes fitness more fun.
For those of you runners who have had this happen to you, I made this graphic for you! ha 🙂
Post Workout Injury Prevention Tips
Sometimes we feel great DURING our workout, but pay for it LATER. Here are a few tips to prevent pain and problems that can slow a runner down.
6 Tips to Fight Injury
2. Manage swelling. If you feel you are the least bit swollen, ice the area religiously. If you can control the swelling, you can control the pain. The problem is, people HATE to ice. No one likes to be cold – and ice can be downright painful. I use these Hot Socks to keep me cozy. They really helped me endure the ice and make it a lot more comfortable.
3. Stretch. Now that it’s 2 days after my run, I can begin to feel my ankle tightening up due to tight calves and achilles. If I want to prevent issues, I need to keep those muscles and loosey-goosey. This is going to be key for me if I want to run on a regular basis again. Most injuries are due to tight or weak muscles. I am SUPER tight, so this is something I really have to work on. Here is a good video on how stretching can prevent (or help heel) common foot issues. These are the stretches I do that also help my ankle.
4. Listen to your body. Allow your body to recover before you beat it up again. Don’t rush things. It will be tempting to want to jump right back to your old routine, but going slow at first can prevent you from having to stop completely.
5. Don’t stop rehab. Most people quit rehabbing their injury when they quit hurting. The same way we shouldn’t wait until we have a bad injury to stretch or ice, we should continue the steps that helped us to heal as preventive measures too.
6. Consider your footwear. If you started having problems suddenly, think of what changed. Was it new shoes? Is it old shoes, and time for new shoes? For me, I believe it was going from a shoe with a greater drop to a flatter shoe (which I loved, but I don’t think they loved me). Most running shoes raise the heel 22-24mm off the ground while lifting the front of the shoe only 10-15mm off the ground. They call this ratio the “drop”. This tiny difference was enough to add more stretch in my Achilles, calves and surrounding ankle muscles/tendons with each repetitive step. This doesn’t mean I can’t go back to them, but not until I stretch more and get that area more flexible. Personally, I believe this also has a lot to do with wearing heels all these years – and then going to running practically flat-footed. So, this reinforces my need to stretch.
NOTE: Often times I say that running injuries can be due to shoe choice – but I don’t just mean poor shoes, I mean not the right shoes for YOU. Just because I love a shoe, doesn’t mean you will too. Reebok recommends rotating between 2-3 pair of shoes to avoid damage due to repetitive action.
CLICK HERE to Learn More About Choosing the Right Show for You
FitFluential LLC compensated me for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
We’ve all seen it – the old guy walking with his feet, but running with his arms. Or the runner with the limp hands tucked into the rib cage, as if they’re failing flippers or clipped wings. How about the chick that looks like she should be running fast, but it’s like she’s in full on movie quality slo-mo. Sometimes, a person’s gait just looks odd, and we can’t even put our finger on what’s wrong – but we know something’s not right. Don’t be too quit to laugh – it could be you!
Do you know what you look like?
I remember the first time I saw myself running on video. In my mind, I was a cross between a deer and a cheetah. I envisioned myself with a nice long graceful stride, able to leap over obstacles with ease, running fast and strong like my spotted furry friend. Then I saw video and photographs that proved the deer-cheetah animal in me was nowhere to be found. My stride was short, despite my long legs, and it appeared that an old lady with a walker could have passed me at any given time.
I noticed the same thing when Steve and I were doing fitness tips on walking. I had the treadmill cranking (I thought), yet I looked like I was barely exercising. That’s when I decided to work on my stride and push my limits. I wanted to improve my gait, increase my arm swing and speed up my pace.
University of Hawaii’s track and field coach Carmyn James said, “Proper running forms are basically the same if you run a 12-minute mile or you are trying to sprint a 12-second 100-meter dash.” With that said, I believe we can learn a lot from sprinters.
Sprinting Your Way to Better Form
I think many people just don’t use their upper body properly with their lower body. Often times the upper body is doing its own separate thing apart from the lower body. However, I believe, if you were being chased by a pit bull, I think your arms and legs would work in perfect harmony together in order to move you as fast and effectively away from harm. That’s why I think sprints are helpful to learn how to use your arms WITH your legs. Try sprinting with your arms dangling down by your side. Now THAT would be one awkward run!
Most people I see with awkward form are going slow. Mopey runners look like dopey runners. I can talk this way because I used to be that dopey runner. Sprints improve your pace and strength, which improves form. Many people look awkward just because they aren’t strong enough to run with the power necessary to move them forward correctly. Also, when you’re running with purpose, suddenly every body part moves with more purpose, forcing us to practice using our body as one effective unit. I use the RunKeeper to track my pace and push my limits. Sometimes I combine a slow jog with sprints, and other times I work on just keeping a steady faster pace for the whole run, concentrating on my form and stride. I’m no professional runner, but since I started becoming more aware of my pace, I’ve improved both my form and speed.
No one sprints with their head all hanging down and back hunched over. When I see people sprint, their body is all stretched out, body leaning slightly forward, head up and eyes forward and alert. Yet, when people jog, often times their neck sticks out, head hangs low, and back is slumped. Why? First, I think we are tired and holding good posture takes work, but another issue is our eyesight. When we jog or walk, we’re going slow so we are only concerned with what is right in front of us (hence the head and eyes down). Just think, our 8lb head puts a lot of strain on our neck as soon as it starts to tilt forward. Ouch! Sprinters, on the other hand, are moving so fast, they need to be more concerned with what lies ahead, so their head up. To have posture like a sprinter, keep your eyes focused on your path 10-20 feet ahead of you.
More Running Tips:
Motivation: Reason to Keep Running