By Tara Fuller
Running is an activity where if you're not careful, it's not hard to zone out. This ability is one of the many reasons runners love running, but it can also be the death of you.
Whether running roads or trails it's important to make mental safety notes beginning before heading out. Stay safe from from vehicles, unsavory characters by creating a plan for the unforeseen with these simple steps.
- Hikers carry a whistle as well as some sort of pepper and/or bear spray. Runners should too! A whistle is nearly weightless and can be easily attached to clothing as can sprays. There are many options designed specifically for runners.
- Cell phones are a must! They are smaller and lighter than ever and many provide GPS so you can find yourself back to civilization should you get lost; but also gives the ability to call for help if you feel threatened.
- Always, and I mean ALWAYS tell someone where you are going. In addition to my location, I always run with "live tracking" through mapmyride cell app. Plus, I wear a Garmin GPS sports watch so if some horrible scenario prevents my return home, police have two tools to aid them to my location.
- Wear reflective clothing! There are so many affordable options for comfortable, breathable and yet reflective clothing, there really isn't a good reason not to wear them. White clothing also enhances visibility at night, especially when streets are poorly lit.
- Carry ID and either a credit/debit card or cash. You never know when money may be needed and it just isn't smart not to have ID on your person. Many runners attach an ID tag to their shoe but I prefer to wear clothing designed for such purposes.
- Don't impair hearing. Well at least not all of it! I love running with music but as tempting as it may be to crank the volume, refrain. You want to be able to hear for vehicles, mountain bikers careening toward you and other dangers.
- Run facing traffic. You need to be able to react quickly and have an escape route. There are far too many distracted and drunk drivers out there!
- Don't assume you have the right away. Always make eye contact with a driver before crossing their path. Pay attention to traffic signals and utilize crosswalk aids. Stopping for a crosswalk is shown to have minimal impact on runner's overall pace.
- Most important! Pay attention to your instincts. If something doesn't feel right it probably isn't. Your best bet is to play it safe and turn around.