Running safely in the countryside

Since back to France, we are living in the countryside. Nature, calm, space. All of that is true. Still, running there is not as peaceful as we may think it is. Narrow and windy roads, no roadsides. That's also part of the running in the French countryside experience. So, yes, it's beautiful out there, but not necessarily safe. To feel as secure as possible while running, I came up with new running habits.

I'm only speaking about road running here even if running on trails ask for great vigilance too (for example, we've been surprised to encounter so many hunters on the trails in France). There absolutely is subject to talk about, but let's focus on the road for now.

Where we live now, there are not many roads. So, obviously, on the main roads, there is a fair amount of cars. As for the secondary roads, you can count them on the fingers of one hand. We managed to identify the most practicable roads, to create loops and to get used to new measures to feel as safe as possible while running, in the countryside.

My new running measures

Running on the left side of the road.

Really important, especially for us, runners. We can see the car coming in front of us so we have time to anticipate. Plus, you sometimes can catch the driver's eyes. It can be useful to make him understand he is to close to you and/or to thank him if he correctly reacted.

Don't hesitate to run in the middle of the lane if there's no roadside.

What I really mean is: accentuate the fact you are running on the road by stepping a bit wider from the side of the road. I'm NOT running in the middle of the road like a crazy person. While driving, it's not so obvious that there's no roadside or that the roadside is not runnable (and, obviously, if I'm choosing to put myself in danger to run on the road, it's because I want to... RUN ON THE ROAD and not on the grass or the mud of the roadsides). By stepping aside from the roadside, I want to force the driver to pass me correctly. But, of course, I stay vigilant and I evaluate the sitation as best as I can! (I also do that on bike rides to avoid cars brushing past me.)

Stretching my right arm to show to the car's driver he's not giving me enough space.

When I clearly see a car's driver won't move aside from me, I stretch my right arm (the one facing the road) to visually show him that I need more space. If his goal is not to cut my arm off, he will have to drive further back from me. At least from the length of my arm!

Wearing light colors.

It may sound stupid but we don't necessarily think about it. As a car's driver (or passenger), you surely have crossed paths with someone standing on the side of the road. Honestly, from afar, it's hard to identify it's a person. If, on top of that, the person is wearing dark clothes, you'll need more time to identify the danger and react properly.

Don't run in the dark.

No need for detailed explanations. Running in the dark, on countryside roads, that's a NO-NO for me. Too dangerous, even dressed as a Christmas tree.

Wearing a flashing light.

[Light Supernova Light RoadID + band to wear on the arm or the ankle Supernova Band RoadID]

When the luminosity is weak, I wear a arm band with a flashing red light. I wear it on my right arm, closer to the cars, and I turn the light to face more the cars coming in front than the cars coming from behind. (Or I wear the light on my running vest.) A flashing light is always more noticeable and it makes for a reaction.

I kept this measure for the end in order for you to remember it. It's clearly not the least important one. This precaution is, in my opinion, the most efficient one. I clearly noticed an improvement in the drivers' reaction to me once I started wearing my flashing light. More cars are now passing me as they would do for a car. I wanted to highlight it!

As a bonus, it's also useful to put in a good mood thanks to a little disco party as a warm up.

Bonus idea

My ideal solution... but impossible.

Despite all these measures, there's always car's drivers who don't care about me and just drive full speed just past me. For them, I would love to be able to:

stop the car
get the driver out of the car
place him on the side of the road
get in his car
get some speed to be sure to be driving at 56 mph (that's the speed limit on French single roads outside from a city)
and drive past the driver just centimeters from him

Putting him in my shoes may make him realize how dangerous his behavior is? For lack of being able to do that, I keep to my new running habits and I make sure to stay vigilant.

All these measures help me feel safer, even if, let's be honest, I know it's still dangerous. But I think the road belongs to all of the people using it. With respect, everyone could enjoy it safely.
Let me know, where do you run? Do you have to take specific measures? You, too, are running in the countryside and you have other useful tips? Share with me!

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Next races

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Miles / km

  • 1 mile = 1.6 km / 1 km = 0.6 mile
  • 5K = 3.1 miles
  • 10K = 6.2 miles
  • half marathon = 13.1 miles = 21.1 km
  • marathon = 26.2 miles = 42.2 km