How to Avoid Falls While Running

6 Tips for Staying Safe During Runs and Races

Although running isn't a contact sport, plenty of runners manage to fall and get pretty banged up. Often someone or something else -- a cyclist, another runner, or bad conditions -- is to blame for a wipe-out, but sometimes it's just our own clumsiness. Follow these tips to help prevent falls during your runs:

Pay attention.


Keep your head up and look ahead –- about 10 to 20 feet in front of you. Try not to look down at your feet, so you can see what's coming. Not only is this important for your safety, it's also proper running form . This is especially important when running on trails , when you can hit obstacles such as rocks, roots, logs and branches.

Make sure your shoes are tied.

Running Shoes
Wendy Hope

This sounds like common sense, but I'm surprised at how many runners I see with dangling shoelaces. Most shoelaces on running shoes are extra long, so be safe and double-knot them.

Be sure that you're laces are secure and tied tight enough. If you're able to slip your running shoes off and put them back on without untying them, they're not tied tight enough. Your laces should be tied tight enough that you can slip just one or two fingers under the knot. If you can fit a few fingers under there, tie them tighter.

Be careful on the downhills.

Running downhill
Mike Harrington

Many falls occur on the downhill, so be extra careful when running downhill. Control your speed and keep your head up, so you can avoid obstacles and don't lose your footing. Although it's tempting to really open up your stride on the downhill, that's how some runners end up losing control and falling. Keep your stride short and stay in control. Be especially careful if you're running on a downhill with loose gravel, a particularly treacherous combination for runners.

Watch out for cyclists and other runners.

Runner with cyclist
Photo by Silverstock

Avoid collisions (and subsequent falls) with other runners or cyclists by always being aware of your surroundings and practicing good communication. If you're approaching another runner or cyclist and need to pass them, communicate with him and let them know on which side you're trying to pass. Before you stop or turn around, look back and make sure your path is clear.

Also see: Tips for Proper Running Etiquette

Don't block your sense of hearing.

women with headphones
Paul BradburyGetty

It's tough to stay alert when you're wearing headphones and listening to loud music. To stay safe and aware of your surroundings, keep your volume low, leave one earbud out, or leave your music at home when running outside.

Also see: How to Run Without Music

Use extra caution at race starts.

Marathon Start
Getty Images North America

I've witnessed so many falls at the beginning of races. Runners often stumble when they try to pass slower runners, get jostled by the crowds, or trip over a water bottle or piece of clothing that someone discarded at the start. When you line up at a race start, make sure that you're in the right position for your pace and be on the lookout for discarded items.

Also see: How to Deal With Crowds at Races

Same goes for water stops, too.

Water cups on ground
Chris McGrath / Getty

Crowds and wet, slippery pavement make hydration stops another common wipe-out zone. Watch for runners stopping suddenly at the water stops and look for big puddles of water. And, although it's OK to throw your cup on the ground at a water stop, you should try to toss it where other runners can't trip over it.

Also see:   10 Signs You're a Hard Core Runner

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