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Staying safe while on a run
Training for a distance race means logging a lot of miles — sometimes in cold, rainy or hot weather, sometimes in the early morning or in the evening, sometimes on streets or country roads. No matter the weather, time of day or route, make sure you're safe during all your training runs.
Several things to think about when it comes to staying safe are being visible to drivers and bicyclists on the road or trail, preventing injury, and being able to summon help if you need it.
You can address these concerns by developing and practicing safe running habits. Having the proper basic gear — down to your socks and shoes — is essential. Also, take advantage of high-tech gadgets designed for runners, such as LED-enhanced gear for running at night and phone apps to track your progress and help motivate you.
Here's a safe running checklist to get you started:
Preparing to run
- Dress for the weather, and be aware of the forecast.
- Be visible. Wear bright colors. In poor light conditions, consider reflective and/or LED-lighted gear.
- Wear well-fitting shoes and low-friction socks.
- Apply anti-chafing agents to those "tender" areas.
- Let someone know your route and what time you expect to return.
- Consider running in a group for safety, training camaraderie and motivation.
- Carry pepper spray if running in isolated areas or if there are aggressive dogs along your route.
- Take a fully charged phone with you. Not only is the phone for your safety, but it can help your motivation and pace if paired with music, podcasts or any of the myriad training apps available to runners.
- Use wearable identification with name, address, phone number, emergency contacts and medical information. In case of a medical emergency, if you can't speak for yourself, first responders will be able to immediately contact family members and communicate medical conditions or allergy information to medical staff.
- Be alert and aware of your surroundings.
- Keep earbud volume low so you can hear sounds around you.
- When running along roads, follow all traffic rules. Run against the traffic and not with the traffic, and be prepared to take evasive action.
- Look both ways at intersections. Make eye contact with drivers stopped at intersections before crossing.
- On multiuse trails, follow the rules of the road. If you alter your direction, look over your shoulder before crossing the path to avoid colliding with a passing runner or cyclist.
- Announce your approach when overtaking and passing other runners.
- Avoid unlit areas, especially at night, and run clear of bushes or parked cars.
- Ignore verbal harassment; keep your distance and keep moving.
- Trust your intuition about an individual or an area.
Check out this advice to avoid injuries while running. Be safe and enjoy your training runs.
Karla Marley is a physical therapy assistant in La Crosse, Wisconsin.