Now that the days are getting shorter and daylight is limited, there are a few extra things to consider when training outdoors and on the wintery roads. Aside from throwing on another layer and bracing for the cold, it is worth thinking about ways to keep yourself safe. Not only will these extra precautions prevent injury and keep you in good health, but they will also keep you focused on the run rather than worrying about potential hazards.
The following are some general safety tips for this time of year, as well as some great pieces of technology to give you some peace of mind.
General Safety Tips
- Find a Partner – One of the best ways to provide yourself with a little extra safety is to train with a partner. Regardless of the time of year, having a running partner can provide several benefits like added motivation, but more importantly, they will ensure that you have someone to get help should an emergency arise. Most running incidents are actually known to happen to those who are running alone or on a route that is not in a well-populated area. Find a route where there are other runners, or bring someone along.
- Run Against Traffic – Speaking of direction, always be sure to run against the flow of traffic. This allows you to be aware of moving vehicles around you. This is especially important during the winter months when road conditions can be poor for drivers. Being able to see where a vehicle is heading in front of you will give you ample time to adjust or react if necessary.
- Mix it Up – Keeping the same schedule and training route day after day can make training hard to enjoy. Many runners may not realize this too, but this type of routine can make you more vulnerable to crime. Consider mixing up your routine and schedule regularly or even switching your morning run to an evening run. Just be sure not to go right at dusk or dawn when visibility is low for drivers. Also try running your favorite route in the opposite direction occasionally.
- Make Others Aware – It is always a good idea to let someone know where you are going for your run, when you are leaving, and when you are planning on being back. This way, someone knows when to expect you and can be available to send help is necessary.
What to Bring
- Proper Clothing/Footwear – Clothing that is protective and reflective is best for cold, dark runs. Sweat-wicking material will keep you from getting too cold, and reflective materials will increase your visibility. A hat is also necessary to hold in your body heat and mittens are much warmer than gloves. Having a strobe light clip or a headlamp as well are also great ways to increase your visibility. Regarding footwear, trail running sneakers are best for snowy and icy conditions as they are more supportive and have better traction. The closer the temperature outside gets to freezing, the more slippery and wet your route will be. Snow and ice tend to have the best traction around 25 degrees and below.
- Identification – Carrying some form of ID with you is always necessary in the event of an emergency. You will want first responders to be able to identify you and gather necessary information like your age and blood type. A great form for runners is Road ID, which is compatible with several types of wearables, and provides vital health information and emergency contacts.
- Cell Phone – Having your cell phone with you (with the GPS feature enabled) is a great way to be prepared in case anything happens to you. This will continually track your location along your route and be a means for you to call for help if needed. It is an unfortunate thing to think about, but it is best to always be prepared so you do not have to worry.
- Sunglasses – On days when the sun is bright, reflection off of the snow can drastically affect your visibility. Snow blindness is a real concern, so having the proper eyewear will make your run much more enjoyable and you will not have to worry about the after effects. Looking for a pair with polarized lenses is best.
Technology to Improve Safety
- Mobile Apps – Besides sharing your running route with someone and when you plan to be back, there are several free apps available like bSafe that allow you to not only share your location with specific people, but even assign emergency contacts as well.
- Security – You do not want to have to worry about the safety of your home while you are out on a run. Having this peace of mind allows you to stay focused on your run and stay safe on your route. Fortunately, there are several security options, like this wireless system, that have free apps included with their service. This way you are able to control everything remotely and even receive real time alerts if anything is happening at home.
- Headphones – It has been said that music while running outdoors can be distracting, but also dangerous in terms of keeping yourself aware of your surroundings. Luckily there are several headphones like these that use bone conduction where music is audible through your cheekbones as opposed to over the ear. This way you can enjoy music, and still be aware of nearby traveling vehicles.
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