Sidewalk running has become my forte, but it wasn’t without years of practice – luckily less tedious practice than piano lessons required as a kid, but still practice nonetheless. There is an art to running on sidewalks, of carefully avoiding potholes in crosswalks, and of maintaining a considerable level of personal safety.
Being aware of your surroundings is key to running on the sidewalk. This may get a little too Harry Potter for you, but constant vigilance is a must. I’m always on the lookout for kamikaze cars, airborne debris that’s been knocked skyward from the aforementioned cars, and any sign of a dark alleyway that I don’t want to turn down. If you’re running solo, you really cannot be too careful.
Cars are definitely going to be your biggest issue, and you can never be too considerate of their lack of consideration for you. Remember, cars are not looking for you to be in crosswalks. I swear. They often screech to a halt beyond crosswalk lines, or if they are making a right-hand turn, well over the crosswalk and halfway around the corner. At this point, I usually make sure I have made eye contact with drivers before I even attempt to cross at a crosswalk.
Unless you’re running an really familiar route, pay attention to the terrain. City sidewalks aren’t smooth as a baby’s bottom; they’ve got character in the form of cracks, slivers, and holes. Watch your footing, or you’ll be out of the running for a few weeks with a twisted ankle.
Finally, know where you are. Yes, I have written frequently about getting lost on my runs, but I’m still aware of what city I’m in, what the people around me look like, and how approximately what direction home is. Honestly, if you ever find yourself in a neighborhood that looks less than friendly, it’s okay to turn around. Also, if you see a shadowy figure who just gives you the willies, turn around. Really. It’s better to be safe than well…anything but safe.
This may sound like a lot (too much even), and I know I’m a bit of a worrypants. But I’ve been close to flattened in crosswalks, taken down by the tiniest of blips in cement, and chased by a hopefully harmless homeless man apparently for sport, and I’d rather not have anyone share those experiences with me. I like it when you’re all safe, healthy, and full of sparklemotion!