With Daylight Savings Time in full effect, we are now in the time of year when there’s more darkness than light. I like to refer to November and December as the months that I like to begin hibernation. When it is dark at 4:30 p.m., I want to put my PJ’s on immediately after work and not leave the house for the rest of the night. That’s really a lie. I want to put my PJ’s on after work every single day of the year. I’m just more likely to do it in the winter.
Since November is National Running Safety Month, I like to share tips I’ve picked up throughout the years of running. However, running safety is something that should be at the forefront of every runner’s mind no matter what time of the year it is.
Safety for runners covers a lot of area. With the horrific murders of 3 runners during the summer, safety against attacks, particularly for women, got a lot of press. As it should. We should all be aware of the risks. Ever since being followed by a man in a car two years ago while on a run, I’m hyper-aware of my safety.
Safety also covers being seen by motorists. I recently read about two local runners who were running in the early morning and were struck by a car. I’m sure we all have stories similar to that.
Follow these tips to keep you safe year round.
Run against traffic
When you are running against traffic, you will be able to see what’s coming at you AND the driver will more likely see you.
Light it up
Lighted vests and/or headlamps will not only help you see the road better (even if there are streetlights) but drivers will be able to spot you better from the front and the back. There’s a ton of different models available. I love my Black Diamond headlamp. It’s lightweight, is super bright and has a blinking red light on the back.
I’m kind of amazed at how many people run, walk or ride their bike with headphones on. Especially in the dark. Even if you have one earpiece in, it’s still dangerous. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Your best bet is to leave the music at home. Trust me, you can run without music.
Take a self defense class. Run with mace or personal alarm. Most importantly, know how to use these defenses. It’s one thing to have them, but know what to do, how to use it and be prepared for anything. I learned to test my mace out before every run from my friend Sarah. I did that and then later scratched my nose/upper lip while running with the same hand that had the mace in it. Let’s just say, my mace works really, really well. For a long time.
Wear reflective, bright clothing
This could be reflective stripping on your shirt, shorts, shoes, etc. As a member of Saucony Find Your Strong Team, I recently was sent their new Reflex line. It is soooo cool! The jacket is totally reflective on the front and back. The tights are reflective from the knee down (in addition to being warm for those chilly late fall/winter runs). And the shoes are just as reflective. I have the Zealot but the Reflex is also available in the Ride, Hurricane and Kineta.
Take your phone and ID
I always take my phone and Road ID with me. Your phone can help you if you encounter a scary situation or if you get hurt to call for help. Carrying some form of ID on you is also critical if you are unable to communicate who you are, what medications you are on, allergic reactions and who to call in case of emergency.
Use Tracking Apps
Of course there’s an app for that! And if you are taking your phone along on your run, why not use an app. There’s tons of apps out there to keep tabs on you while running. Garmin Mobile Connect, Road ID, bSafe, React Mobile, and Kitestring are some options.
Funny story – Whenever I meet with new running friends for the first time, Ron likes to use Track My iPhone to make sure I don’t get kidnapped by some crazy stalker. At least that’s what he tells me. Maybe he’s just checking up on me to see if I’m really running. What else would I be doing at zero dark thirty?
If possible meet up with a friend. There’s safety in numbers. And if you think you run too early, you might be surprised to know how many others are in the same boat as you. I’ve posted in a couple of our local running club Facebook pages looking for a running buddy and have had great success in finding
crazy awesome runners who want to run at zero dark thirty. Besides, who wouldn’t want to start the day this way?
Run Like a Defensive Driver
Assume every driver is talking on the phone while drinking steaming hot coffee and tuning the radio. This can be said about running at any time on the roads. Never assume a driver sees you. They most likely don’t.
Switch It Up
Change your running route and time you run every so often. It’s comfortable to you, but that also means that someone may learn your routine as well.
What are your running safety tips?