PFIT TIPS,  Running

RUNNER’S GUIDE: 8 Tips for Road Runners

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

road runners tipsAfter 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

sidewalk1. 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.

Running Tips & Laws2. 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!

running facing traffic3. 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!

running at night5. 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’.

Running with headphones6. 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.

running on shoulder7. 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.

crazy runner8. 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 logoWant to learn more? Read my recent blog for, Walking and Running: 7 Rules to Stay Safe and Legal, for 4 more laws you need to know.

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10 Tips to Buying Running Shoes by Bonnie Pfiester,

Preparation Tips for Hiking by Bonnie Pfiester,

Top 10 Running Surfaces by Runner’s World

Running on Cement, Asphalt & Grass by Livestrong

Owner of Lift Vero and motivational "pfitness, pfood and pfaith" blogger in Vero Beach, Florida.


  • M. Stephesnon

    Love your post today! Could you possibly include bikes! As a commuter, I am amazed daily on how many riders and drivers are not informed of the rules of the road. Thanks!!!

  • Kat Farres

    we just had some big Bike Kansas thing here locally…..and I mentioned to several of the riders, who were riding with traffic going INTO the sun, right at ‘peak traffic go to work time for many locals’ you realize you are practically invisible to people? and going up a big hill, the cars are going 40 plus mph. ‘Someone local picked out the route’ ……well a kid DID get hit. And a gal got hit and killed the year before, she wasn’t with the ‘oack’ and was riding with her back to traffic, guy hit her and didn’t even realize he had…… some bike rider almost hit my little black girl dog the other day… he came barreling around the curve….but I LOVE TO WALK THE BEAST !

  • Faith Wynne

    I tend to run in the early mornings when it’s coolest – at least for now. I always wear a bright top if my pants are dark (which they usually are) and I never wear headphones. I just let my music play out loud from my phone, with no one around me, who is gonna care how loud the music is?
    My biggest peeve is the cars that pull out of their developments and don’t stop before the sidewalk, instead they block it and you have to run behind them. Or they only look left to turn right and don’t see me coming at them from their right side. I’ve come SO close to being hit several times. Thankfully I am a very cautious and visual runner. I look up the street and over my shoulder before I cross an intersection, I also carry pepper spray with me (and my phone) in case anything were to happen. When I do go running at dusk or dark I have a nice non-restrictive reflective “vest” that I wear. Even though I am only running on sidewalks, I want all drivers to see me since I live in a very busy city.
    Recently I’ve debated carrying an air horn for those people who aren’t paying attention to the other walkers/runners/bikers out and about. Instead of yelling at them, flipping the bird or hitting their car (yes, I did slap a lady’s hood once as she rolled the stop sign, chatting away on her cell phone and almost rolled right over me) I can scare the crap out of them with a loud noise. Hopefully that won’t be at 5am when 90% of my neighborhood is still sleeping! : )
    One last note…I always wear my RoadID bracelet in case something does happen and I always let my husband know my route before I step out the door.

    • Bonnie Pfiester

      Great tips – and I agree!!! I have to admit we almost hit a guy with his dogs walking on the side of the road because he was at the corner on the road (the side walks are across the street) and the sun was rising behind him. Steve totally didn’t see him at all. It’s so scary. We all need to be more careful for sure! Sounds like you are doing everything right!!

  • Kat Farres

    Oh yeah and MY pet peeve, if you are coming up behind me, give me a shout out, ‘passing on the left’ so I can rein my dogs in if need be, tell them whoa, leave it, etc.

  • Kat Farres

    And, if at all possible while walking/running/biking wear something BRIGHT. Seriously, especially at night/early mornings….people can’t see an all in black person and that tiny reflect-y thing on your shoes??? yeah, not usually all that visible. Personally, I walk facing traffic whenever possible and I have worn my construction worker mesh vest on gloomy rainy days……BE SEEN and not a speed bump ! and turn down the headphones…..I personally don’t wear any as I walk 3 dogs and want to hear cars, the jingling tags of a loose dog coming up behind me, etc…..

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