A week ago, satire site The Onion posted ‘Nation’s Female Joggers Know They Will One Day Be Assaulted, Buried In Woods’, where women acknowledge this as simply part of the circle of life. All fun aside, as fall arrives it’s a good time to step back and remind ourselves of the need for enhanced safety on shorter, cooler days.
I wrote about early morning running tips in the first part of spring as I started to see more people emerging from their winter cocoons, and now as school is back in session and the mornings are darker it makes sense to remind everyone about safety once again.
Here are a dozen tips to remember:
- Hydration Still Matters: this weekend was cool in western New York, to the point that I wore long sleeves and light gloves. But guess what – even though you don’t get as dry as on a hot day, your body is still sweating and using water … so replenish!
- Repeated Behavior Makes You An Easy Target: this is a blanket tip, because leaving an unlocked house the same time every day makes you a target, going down a dark isolated road same time every day makes you easy prey, and so on. Whether this is a problem depends on the situation, but it is something to keep in mind.
- Carry a Road ID: you simply never know what might happen. A couple of weeks ago I got forces off the road by a biker who was going to stay fully outside the white line even as I shouted ‘clear behind’ to let him know to share the road (and shouted something as I got pushed off the road). A few hundred yards on either side there were steep drop-offs, and potential danger. Be aware, and be prepared.
- Be Easily Visible (but maybe not TOO easy): I have loads of reflective gear and a headlamp, but then in general less than half of my routes are lighted. Do what makes sense to be safe … but not a target.
- Try to run with others: the ‘buddy system’ works. If possible, set up your runs to be with someone else – especially long runs.
- Mix up your routine: whether it is different times or different routes, mixing things up is a good way to avoid being a target … but …
- Make sure key people know your routine: with so much travel this year many of the people I see out at least a few times a week noticed the change. And we talked about the death of one guy’s dog, another walker getting a dog, and my travels. That shared awareness makes for a better and safer community. Also, I make sure my family knows all my of my primary routes (yes, I have six).
- Be careful with headphones: I know many disagree with me on the ‘headphones = diminished safety’ theory, but there is no debate that it can inhibit the ability to hear low-level sounds. This can compromise safety, so just be careful and moderate the volume so you can hear what is going on around you.
- Keep your eyes up / be aware: this weekend (at 11AM no less) I was almost run off the road by a guy who with his eyes on his phone drifting towards the side of the road … with his little kids in the car. You can’t assume drivers are paying as much attention to you as they are to their phones.
- Run in places you know: in case of trouble, it is good to have an escape plan. Even when I travel I mentally map out the area so I can detour to cut or extend my run or in case of emergency.
- Run against traffic: In many states it is the law, but it always makes sense, because it allows you to be aware, and the differential speed makes you more visible to oncoming drivers.
- Trust your instincts: to use a cliché, it is better to FEEL stupid than to BE stupid! If something doesn’t feel right, adjust things immediately.
For many back to school translates to ‘back to treadmill’, but for me it just means more gear to put on every morning! What about you? How do you change your exercise habits in the fall? Any safety tips to share?