What to do at stop lights

How should you handle unplanned breaks in your run for things like stoplights, etc? Should you jog in place, walk, or stop? Does it even matter?

Believe it or not, there’s actually research on what is best and Coach Hayley helps you plan your strategy for those forced breaks in today’s daily podcast.


Audio Transcript

Coach Laura: Hey everyone, Coach Laura here. Welcome to the Extra Kick podcast brought to you by Runners Connect. I hope you guys are off to a great start today, and thank you so much for joining me.

As always, I am here to answer your running and training questions so you can train smarter, stay healthy, and achieve your goals. We have a great question today from Devin.

Devin: This is a two-part question. One, do you stop your watch timers at stop lights and crosswalks? Or do you let them run through especially when wearing a Garmin GPS and such?

Part two is, while you’re standing there for up to 45 seconds sometimes, do you stop running, run in place, jumping jacks? I am just curious as I know I spent at least two minutes tonight waiting for a couple of stop lights.

Coach Laura: This is a great question Devin. I live in downtown Toronto and many of my runs have lots of stop lights, especially if I am trying to get down to our lakeside trail for a workout.

I am going to assume that you are talking about just a regular, old easy run, or a long run. If you’re hitting stop lights during your workouts, I’d consider trying to find a new route, or turning right at the lights so you don’t have to stop.

First part – the watch. I stop my watch at lights, so I only record the time I am actually running. Some watches have auto pause features in case you forget.

But for me it’s second nature. My legs stop, I reach over and stop my watch. Really though, it doesn’t matter if you stop it or not. I just like an accurate reflection on my runs.

The second part of your question is a little tricky because there isn’t much research on this. Again, I’ll tell you that I just stop and wait.

If it’s really cold, or if I know it’s going to be a long light, I might double back a little and try to catch it again on a green. But I usually don’t mind just taking a break and waiting a minute.

You’ll see some people who jog on the spot at lights. If you’ve ever asked them why, and I have, usually they’ll tell you one of two things. They get stiff when they stop running, or they’re concerned about their heartrate dropping. Those are both fair concerns.

If you get achy stopping, go ahead and jog on the spot. Or do a few leg swings at the stop light. If you’re worried about your heartrate, remember this; chances are you’re on an easy run, so keeping your heartrate above a certain level shouldn’t matter all that much.

What you can do to try to avoid this is pick routes with fewer lights. If you’re running into stop lights during your workouts, you need to think about changing that route.

Have as many lights as you need on the warmup and cool down, but get yourself to a place where you can run continuously for your heart efforts.

A paved path, a park, a cemetery, or a track are all good places for a workout without stop lights.

Other than that, I really wouldn’t worry about it too much. As long as you’re getting your total time or distance in, you’ll be fine.

If you want to jog on the spot, or double back so you can keep running, go for it. Who is to say you shouldn’t? Whatever makes you most comfortable, and your run happy and fun is what I want you to do.

I love that question Devin, and thank you so much for asking. For those of you listening that want to have your question answered by one of the RunnersConnect coaches, head over to runnersconnect.net/daily and click the record button to send your question.

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I am already looking forward to tomorrow’s question. Have a good run today.

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