The South Riding Running Club is a Northern Virginia community of runners and walkers of all levels and ability. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate regardless of age, gender, athletic inclination, and goals.
Although Golf was originally restricted to wealthy Protestants, today it's open to anybody who owns hideous clothing. -- Dave Barry
One of the reasons our community is relatively safe is that we keep it that way. For anyone doing the early runs in the morning, a few accessories and behaviors will probably be useful. Most of these tips apply at any time of the day.
–Be Visible—Early in the morning almost no one on the road will be expecting to see runners along the way. Make sure you wear really bright colors so that you're visible. Don't expect to be seen, but the more visible you make yourself the better. Make sure you have your SRRC ID tag on your shoe!
–Always Wear Reflective Gear When It's Dark —Even better than bright colors is a reflective vest. It's inexpensive, and the new high-tech reflective materials will make you stand out like a lightning strike for an oncoming car. A headlight is also a good investment. It's more convenient than a flashlight, makes you more visible, and helps you see the road better, too.
– Watch for Turning Vehicles—While this is always true, morning traffic multiplies the number of occasions when sharing the road matters. Do not expect to be seen, even if you're wearing your best fluorescent outfit, have made eye contact with a driver, and both of you are waving. When approaching right-turning cars from their right, expect them to pull right out before they see you. (Your expectations will seldom be disappointed.)
–Watch for Sun-blinded Drivers—On clear mornings, drivers headed into the bright sunlight may be blinded to almost everything, especially a little runner who is sure s/he is visible. Expect to be invisible, and only cross traffic when the way really is clear.
–Run Facing Oncoming Traffic—Because a runner is small, slow-moving, and almost invisible compared to a car, you want to be able to see what's coming and deal with it. You do NOT want cars racing up on you from behind.
– Ditch the iPod—A key part of running safely anywhere is situational awareness. Keeping your ears open helps you better assess things as you run along. A loose dog who's having an aggressive moment will often not make a lot of sound just prior to contact. Hybrid cars can also be remarkably quiet until they are right on top of you. (Note: Starting on January 1, 2008, the Games Committee of a USATF sanctioned long distance running (LDR) event may decide to allow the use of portable electronic devices not capable of receiving communications (MP3 players, etc.) by participants in their event, but these devices will not be allowed for participants competing for awards in USATF.)
–Be Vigilant—Be vigilant and aware of your surroundings and watch for anything that seems out of place. Do not wear an iPod or WalkMan to distract you while you run, especially when it's dark. If you're going to carry something extra, make it a cell phone, a piece of paper, and a pencil.
–Make a Note—If you see anything that looks suspicious to you or makes you nervous, use your paper/pencil to note time, location, and license number. You can always dial 911 on your cell phone, too, if necessary. An example of suspicious behavior would be any car that passes you more than once during the same early morning run. Morning trips are almost always one way and almost never involve cruising around a neighborhood. If you observe any patterns you don't like over a few days, don't hesitate to call the Loudoun County Sherriff (703-777-1021) or your local neighborhood watch contact.
–Find a Buddy—There's safety in numbers, so don't hesitate to canvas the South Riding Running Club for company. It seems from the e-mail list that someone is available to run at any given time during the day, so finding a sidekick should be easy.
Running is fun. Keep your running experience enjoyable by adapting to the changing conditions of the seasons. Every season presents unique opportunities and challenges, so good strategies and equipment are important.. No matter what the season, one of the most important safety considerations is vigilance around traffic. Be very watchful around cars and always expect the unexpected! Take nothing for granted when it comes to your health and safety! Click here for tips particular to each season.