Safety tips for runners from Katlehong Athletics Club

Katlehong Athletics Club members en masse on the road before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Katlehong Athletics Club members en masse on the road before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Image: Supplied

The past weeks have seen an increase in people choosing to run to keep healthy. A lot of those people are running on the road.

The swell of numbers in runners has excited those in the running community, people like Hloni Motloung, who would like to welcome those new runners with open arms and share a few tips to stay safe on the road.

SowetanLIVE spoke to Motloung who is  the chairperson of Katlehong Athletics Club. He urged runners to adhere to the social distancing guidelines provided by the government, and to wear their masks at all times.  

“The first thing you need to do is adhere to the government regulations. Make sure you comply with the government regulation whatever they may be at the time. If you are running with a partner, keep that social distance. Running in groups is discouraged, especially the young ones. We see people running as a soccer team, this is discouraged. And if you are a person that spits or clears their nose while running, please carry a tissue or a handkerchief. You need to consider other road users, we’re living in the times of Covid-19,” he adds.

Motloung’s next tip was on running gear.

“You firstly need a pair of running shoes and the shoe must be a size up from your normal size. So if you’re a size 5 you must get a size 6 shoe. This is to help in preventing blisters in a short distance running,”Motloung says.

He added that this is the trick that he uses when running the Comrades Marathon. He also mentioned that runners have lost their toe nails while doing the marathon. He is not the only member of the club that has taken part in the marathon, founding club member Isaac Mabula has completed 30 consecutive marathons. He now runs the race for free.  

Motloung warned that people be vigilant, though he says that in his area there have not been reports of runners being preyed on by criminals, it was still prudent to be alert.

“Run with as little as possible, leave your cell phones at home; these are the things that attract criminals.”

For those concerned about leaving their cell phone at home while running, he advised that they utilise technology like Strava, an app that you can link with a watch. You plan your route and have someone at home follow it while you run. He says the app sends alerts to the phone it is linked to if you deviate from the route or if you fall down or stop.  If this still doesn’t make you comfortable, people can carry their phones in specially designed arm pouches or fanny packs.

Another danger new runners fall into is that they don’t know how to pace themselves. Motloung says you can determine whether the pace you are going is right for you by attempting to talk while running.

“What you need to do is try having a conversation with yourself, if you battle to speak that means the pace you are going is too high for you; you might not finish your run. You need to reduce your pace.”

Here is a summary of the tips:  

1. Wear face mask / buff when running.

2. Run facing the traffic to be able to see cars approaching.

3. Preferably, walk/run/jog on the pavement, its much safer.

4. Wear reflective and bright clothing

5. Do not wear earphones when running.

6. Leave your gadgets (cell phone, speakers) at home

7. Make sure you tie your shoes well before you leave the house, might end up picking infections on the road.

8. Run with a partner if possible while avoiding running in groups as per level 4 lockdown regulation.

9. Be considerate to runners particularly when you want to spit or clear your nose.

10. Alter your running route pattern to run in familiar areas.

11. Be on the look for road signs and adhere to them.

12. Look both ways before crossing the road.

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