Safer Running Guide

The following guide to safer running should be read by all club members; it highlights the importance of members taking personal responsibility for their own safety when running. Please encourage other club members to take running safety and well-being seriously; if you see behaviours that you consider unsafe or potential hazards, please feel confident to raise them; you may prevent a serious injury by having the confidence to mention it.

All members are requested to carry emergency contact details in an accessible format, as well as details of any medical conditions during official club runs and sessions and are recommended to do so for runs outside of club. There are many options availabe including a parkrun wristband ( or Tagnix dog-tags/wristband ( using the code BOURN) as well as storing your emergency contact details on your smartphone.

Club members are expected to learn the regular routes and to alert other runners to any new hazards, such as roadworks on club routes (for example by sharing on social media or during club announcements).

All members must take personal responsibility for their own safety and this guidance is intended to aid individuals in their personal risk assessment process and their strategy to control risk. It should be recognised that in providing this guidance the club and its members are not responsible for the accuracy of the guidance or the risk-based decisions made in its use. It does not include information on activities such as warming up or warming down which are an important part of injury prevention.

General Advice on Safer Running
– Fitness – know your limits
– Following illness or injury take a conservative approach to resuming training
– Do not run if you are feeling unwell or if you are injured
– If possible, run with others or tell someone when and where you are going
– Avoid hooded tops or anything else that restricts your vision
– A secure pocket or waist pack is a good way of keeping things out of sight and safe
– If you have asthma ensure that you take your inhaler with you when running
– On a long run it is also advisable to carry change and/or a mobile phone
– Please be considerate of other pedestrians when running behind them. Try to make them aware you are approaching to avoid frightening them, and consider crossing the road
– Never expect a motorist to know where you are going to run and always make sure you look out for oncoming traffic, including bicycles, when crossing the road. Use crossings where possible and when running in a large group be considerate of other road users especially when crossing en masse
– BvH doesn’t advocate or encourage the use of headsets and portable audio players when running as this will impede your hearing and awareness of traffic and other hazards or warnings. We request that these are not used during club runs with the exception of bone-conducting headsets. Club members are reminded that portable audio players are often not permissable in races, for example Road Relays and Cross Country races

Pre-existing health conditions
– Please seek medical advice from your Doctor if you have a pre-existing medical condition that you think may place you at increased risk when running
– You must notify coaches at coached sessions of any specific medical condition or when returning from long term injury or a debilitating illness

Winter Running
– Members should wear high visibility clothing when training in the evenings during the winter; high-vis vests can be purchased at Kit Night and additional reflective strips or lights are recommended. Members are advised to consider the light conditions for the end of their run when coming to club early in the Autumn/Winter season – it may be light as you leave, but the visibilty can rapidly change during your run
– Cold is unlikely to represent a hazard whilst running except when extreme winter conditions prevail
– Wear clothing in layers so as to trap a warm layer of air, but avoid overdressing. Using a layer approach to clothing will help to protect against the cold, so layers can be removed as you warm up, or be replaced as you cool down
– Protect the extremities – consider carrying/wearing a hat and gloves in winter conditions. You may not need a hat whilst running, but if you stop you will soon become cold. Remember that the body can lose much of its heat from the head
– From a safety perspective, it’s usually slipping on ice that can cause injury. Be extra careful or even consider not running in icy conditions
– In very severe cold conditions do not run (consider the gym)
– Be aware of freshly fallen snow it can be slippery and hides potential trip hazards such as uneven ground
– The greatest risk of hypothermia is if injured whilst running alone in a remote place
– Drink adequate amounts of water as you will still perspire and need to replace lost fluids
– Hypothermia gives few warning signs
– Post exercise, remove damp clothing

Environmental Conditions – Fog
– In the day wear high visibility clothing
– At night wear white clothes or clothes with reflective strips or a headlight
– Run away from traffic routes and avoid running alone

Summer Running
– Avoid running in the hottest part of the day or if you have been unwell
– Warm, muggy conditions induce excessive perspiration you will need to take sufficient drinks to combat this, some squash or electrolyte drink is recommended over water, particularly if you are running for more than one hour. Make sure that you are properly hydrated before, during and after running in summer even when the sun is not shining
– Heat stress gives few warning signs – If you feel dizzy or nauseated, stop running, get a drink and look for some help immediately

Planning your Route
In general, the club runs (on club evenings) are planned, with maps available to download from the BvH website, however, when undertaking individual training runs:
– Always try to plan your route to avoid getting lost and to take into account the ability of other people who will be running with you
– It is a good idea to vary the route if you run regularly for variety and safety. If you log your runs on a public running log (e.g. Strava) ensure that you switch on any safety/privacy settings, such as those which hide the immediate vicinity of your home
– Circular routes are considered safer because you don’t have to retrace your steps
– If possible, check out the route beforehand and check if other people, especially runners, are using it which is always a good sign

Running in Groups
– It is best to run in groups (especially on club training sessions) for a variety of reasons, the most important being safety in numbers
– Always look out for the well-being of your group members, particularly if they are new and not sure of the route or pace of the group
– All members taking part in club training have a responsibility to ensure that fellow runners do not become isolated from the group
– The ideal situation for a group is to have one person who should lead and one good runner to monitor the group and keep with steadier-paced runners
– It is a good idea to count the number in your group and regularly check the number to ensure that they all stay together
– If space and traffic allow then keep looping back (faster runners return to meet the slower) to allow the group to keep together. This will also increase the work rate of the faster members
– When running in pairs or a group, exercise extreme caution if you are running side by side due to the danger of a sudden impact from cars on all roads, especially on country roads
– When running closely packed together, be aware that your vision of obstacles, such as the path level or holes in the road may be blocked by the person immediately in front of you
– Try to keep space between each other so you can see what is approaching and to warn others in the group of any potential hazards such as changes in path level, bollards, oncoming cyclists etc.

Terrain – Road
In urban areas, be aware of and where possible avoid:
– Dark or poorly lit areas where visibility can be reduced the road may be damp and slippery
– Tree roots raising the pavement
– Areas with poor or broken lighting
– Avoid running routes that cause you to regularly cross many roads
– Select a safe route to cross roads using bridges or underpasses, or use crossings or traffic islands
– Don’t assume that car drivers can see you, just because you can see them
– Wear something visible when running on or across traffic routes, at night clothes with reflective strips or a headlight will help you be seen, high visibility clothing whilst good in daylight conditions is not visible under most streetlights
– On country roads with no path, run towards oncoming traffic so you can take evasive measures if necessary

Terrain – Cross Country/Off-Road
– Wear appropriate footwear for the terrain/conditions
– Assess the terrain as you run and plan ahead; choose a route or path to avoid holes, rocks or tree stumps
– Wear a headlight at night or in poor light conditions
– If running alone let someone know your route
– Carry a mobile phone

Dealing with Potentially Dangerous Situations
– Always remain alert when running; the more aware you are of your environment the less vulnerable you will be
– Avoid situations and environments that you feel put you at risk
– Avoid direct conflict – be passive but assertive
– Keep an object or space between you and a potential aggressor
– Be calm and confident
– Call for help loudly
– Even if you are a dog lover or owner, be aware that not all dogs are friendly; give them a wide berth when running. The incidence of dog bites has increased in recent years and most people who have been bitten by a dog thought that it would not happen to them:
– Avoid running up behind horses; use your discretion when passing them
– If you are running on the road and an approaching car is not giving you a wide berth do not hold your ground, swallow your pride, get off the road and live to run another day
– If a car is following you at a slow speed and you consider it suspicious, run calmly to a public place and if necessary, call the police

Tips on how to deal with a Medical emergency:
– Relax – try to remain calm
– Call for help and if you don’t carry a mobile phone, ask someone nearby
– Don’t leave an injured person alone
– Establish what is wrong with the person and try to instil calm
– Report accidents or more serious incidents through an Officer of the Club
– Consider taking a first aid course or learning the basic principles