By Marshall Pickard
Most of us like to run outside. It’s fun, invigorating, and much better than the tiresome drudgery of a treadmill. When running outside — most rules are just common sense — but believe it or not, many runners break them everyday.
DITCH THE HEADPHONES!
I know that most of us like to run with music for inspiration and motivation, but this is the #1 Safety Rule for safe running. Music blocks out your environment — cars, cyclists, or someone suddenly coming up from behind you! I can’t count the number of times I’ve passed a solo runner who never heard me approaching because he/she has had headphones on. Can’t function without tunes? Wear only one earbud and keep the volume very, very, low.
RUN WITH ID
You need some sort of identification if — heaven forbid — you are in an accident or injured. Road ID offers badges, bracelets, and even a free app for your smartphone. Make sure you have important information such as name, age, blood type, any illnesses or allergies and emergency contact information. For those of you that use the Strava app, a premium membership feature is Beacon that lets up to three emergency contacts see your real-time location on a map.
Visibility is key. Especially if you run at dawn, dusk or in the dark. Products such as Knuckle Lights, reflective vests or light vests, headlamps, reflective bands, and even just bright clothing make you easier to see and therefore safer.
RUN AGAINST TRAFFIC
Cyclists ride with traffic, but runners should run opposite the direction of traffic (traffic coming towards you). You need to see cars coming towards you and possible hazards on the road or at intersections (drivers turning while on cell phones!). Plus, you cannot react in time to a car coming up from behind, especially if you don’t follow the first safety rule.
RUN WITH A FRIEND
This isn’t just advice for women, but men too. There is always safety in numbers. Being alone on a remote trail is just asking for trouble. There is strength in numbers. Plus, if you get dehydrated, bonk, or injured, it is better to have someone there to help instead of trying to hobble back to your car or home.
CARRY PEPPER SPRAY
“3% of women runners have been grabbed, groped, or physically assaulted” (Running While Female, by Michelle Hamilton Runner’s World —a GREAT read). That’s scary. And these attacks don’t just happen on lonely trails after hours. So, even if you can run sub-five-minute miles, predators attack without warning and it’s easier to outsmart than outrun them. Protect yourself if you run alone or in secluded areas by carrying runner’s mace. Be smart. Be safe.
LET PEOPLE KNOW
Sometimes it’s nice to take the road less traveled — except when you’re alone. It’s a horrible feeling to be out on a run and it starts getting dark. Plan your route and tell someone what it is. Then, they’ll have an idea of where to come pick you up and bring you home when you’re lost or not back when you said you would be. Again, engage Strava’s Beacon feature if you’re a premium member.