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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Safety First! 5 miles and 6 safety tips


As if the cold doesn't suck enough, the solar system is giving us the middle finger with shorter days and a whole lot of dark.    The clocks going back an hour has a few perks... that extra hour of sleep Saturday night and who doesn't love waking up to SUNSHINE.   There is something so depressing about getting up before the sun.    However as runners with busy schedules we pay dearly, it is now dark at 4:45.  That means a lot of us dedicated runners are going to spend a lot of time in the dark.

Time to start thinking about night running and being safe.

Tuesday, I met Jill at her house at 5:30 for a schedule five miles around Old Saybrook.  We were chatting about night running and how important it is to make smarter and better choices when it comes to running after hours.  Jill and I chose to run in Old Saybrook for its bounty of sidewalks and street lights. I also brought over some reflective vests that I grabbed from the work supply.  Jill grabbed a light and we headed out with the dog for five miles on the sidewalk of Saybrook. 

While I was running, I thought about night running,
and how now would be a great time to share some safety tips for running in the dark. 

So..... It's time for the Safety Six-

* Six Tips * for night running and being a Safer Runner
1.  Always Always Always wear a reflective vest.   Stores and running gear companies are making it really easy these days and even make a lot of "built in reflective" clothes- reflective stripes on pants, sneakers, and even jackets.  The more the merrier and I always try to encourage the full on reflective vest over whatever you are wearing.  During my first Ragnar safety briefing, they showed us two posters.  One of a runner at night with no reflective gear, and one with. 
Above is a poster of a runner at 150' with no gear.

 Here is the poster of a runner at 150' with reflective gear and what looks like a head lamp or tail light.  Which runner would you rather be?

The good news, is not all reflective vests are made for 300 pound construction workers.  
Or look like dresses.    Just the freebies I found.  If all else fails Jill can use this one as a dress for next years sexy constructor worker costume... You're welcome.

They come in all shapes (and sizes) so don't worry if you can't pull the cheap version off as well as Jill.   Free is for me so I chose the above version offered by my father from his work.  The version below is a little less invasive and a little more stylish. You can find them online, in walmart, or in your local running store (make this your first choice).
2.  Lights-  Head lamps, tail lights, go nuts!  I have both because they were both required for night runners during the Ragnar Relay.  Head lamps let cars know I am there and allow me to see where I am going and therefore not fall on my face on the uneven sidewalk.  The tail light on the blinking mode is perfect for the cars I can't see behind me.  It's the cars I can't see that make me nervous.  I have replayed the same image over and over again during my runs... me dramatically flinging myself over the guard rail because I am paying attention and an oncoming car isn't.
Luckily, this is still fantasy and I hope it never becomes a reality.  Not sure my instincts and reflexes are as sharp as they used to be. 
I forgot my head lamp but Jill had a solution and whipped up this great tool during Tuesday's 5 miler. 
It was a light, and a whistle, and a stabby defense stick all in one.

 I am going to order a few of these.
Stocking stuffers anyone? 
3.  Bring a friend., or two!  It is always safer to go out at night with a friend.  I brought two.   It is also easier to see a mob of runners in reflective gear than just one.   I went out with Jill and Olive.  Olive the four legged runner was wearing her neon vest and reflective harness so she could also be very visible to traffic.   And being a young female out in dark poorly lit neighborhoods after dark, there is something really reassuring about having a dog with you. 
4.  Change up your routes-  Never get in a routine.  This goes for day time running as well.  There are a lot of weirdos out there.  Aint that the truth.  I make sure to switch up my routine, times, and routes constantly.  You never want someone to know your running schedule, where you will be, and when, and alone.  Especially at night.  Use different routes, and at different times of the day/night.
5.  If there is a sidewalk- use it.  So many runners hate the sidewalks.  I understand there are lots of un even surfaces, and trip hazards, but you have to pick your battles.  I will take a crack in the sidewalk over a distracted driver in the road any day.
Be who ever you want by daylight, but at night-  Make the switch.
6.   Carry identification with you-  Road ID bracelets make this easy.  It is on my Christmas list this year and every walker biker and runner should wear one.  If something ever happened to you, it is really important for medics to know who you are, not just a Jane Doe.  My father had a kidney transplant and wears a special necklace to let paramedics know of his special condition.  In case he was ever in an accident and couldn't speak,  the necklace speaks for him.  There are many drugs he cannot take due to his condition and anti rejection medicines.  If something ever happened to you on a run, it is vital that the parametics can ID you incase you are not conscious. 
For under 20 bucks-  we can all afford to be a little safer. 
And look- reflective!
I hope you found this post useful, and I hope even more that you all take the extra steps to be a safe(er) runner.   A few extra steps makes sure you get home safe to snuggle your pup and enjoy your runners high. 

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