Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Off road running as a safer strategy

New sidewalks make for safer running
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles

Over the last couple of weeks, I've found myself running on the sidewalks more frequently than on the road. I'll admit to being extremely safety conscious when it comes to running, and the driving behavior I see in my neighborhood supports that position. After years managing production and technology operations, I've adopted the philosophy of minimizing or preventing risk whenever possible.

Running on the sidewalk minimizes the chance of an encounter with a car, but sidewalks can also present problems. I tripped and fell badly at the end of a run a couple of years ago, when my toe caught a slightly raised section of my driveway. The town has done an impressive job this spring, replacing sidewalks that were damaged during Hurricane Sandy. However, there are still plenty of sections in need of repair that could trip a runner.

I did about 85% of today's run on sidewalks, only using the street to cross or when I encountered an impassible section. Besides the safety benefit, the relative flatness of sidewalks (compared to roads that are banked on the sides for water runoff) prevents my right foot from doing more work than the left, because I always run on the left side of the street.

I did encounter some rough sidewalks along my route this morning, but I managed to step around or over the trickiest sections. I tried to push a little harder than I have of late, and was rewarded with an overall pace that was slightly faster than average. I expected to do better than that, and I wonder if I'd shortened my step slightly on uneven sidewalks. If that's the case, I'd rather run slower and be a little safer.


  1. Interesting. I find the sidewalk concrete much harsher on my bones. I prefer taking my chances on the streets (I hope I'm not jinxing myself as I type) unless I'm on a heavily trafficked boulevard or a winding street with fast cars. I am hyper aware of texters (I honked at one in front of me this evening. The dummy gave me the finger. If given the opportunity, I gladly would have told her where she could stick that finger and her phone) and always try to make eye contact with the drivers of the oncoming cars. This is why I need to move to Hilton Head Island where I can run on those nice bike paths and only worry about oncoming alligators.

  2. I agree with you in terms of the sidewalk's unyielding surface. I run in the thin-soled Pure Drifts and notice the difference when I go from the sidewalk to the street. I haven't been to Hilton Head but I'm a big fan of bike paths (alligators, not so much).

    That's why I love the new Greenbelt trails. You can run from Plainview, through Bethpage State Park all the way to Massapequa Preserve with very little interaction with cars. However, there are always a few cyclists who think they're riding the peloton.

  3. I might try Greenbelt next weekend.

  4. You'll love it. Especially if you like hills.


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