Running and Staying Safe

Let’s start with a quick disclaimer. In the grand scheme of things, I am not the safest person in the world when it comes to running.

There, I said it.

Still, we’re gonna talk a little bit about staying safe while running and things we can all do as to not wind up dead in a ditch somewhere.

That might have been a little extreme.

Now that we’re in the middle of an obnoxiously cold winter, we’ll start there. Layers. It’s getting cold outside. Cold to the point that today should be the first time I’m running in positive double digit temperatures in about two weeks.

Obviously, all the essentials come into play. Hat, gloves, jackets, tights. And as I said, layers. Most days I wore a buff/mask around my face and under my hat, as well as all the gloves. The key factor is blocking the wind. Most high end running jackets are designed to keep you warm and block most of the wind. Although I still haven’t come up with a full proof way to protect all of my face yet.

There are also dangers to overdressing as well. If you get a really good sweat going, that sweat can freeze. In my experience, this is far worse than the straight cold. These are the runs when your mask freeze forms to your face, and the inside of your jacket is lined with ice. Overdressing is easy to do on cold days, though. But in a weird way, you can end up being colder in that case.

For those of us in the Midwest, in the winter we also need to deal with seemingly eternal darkness. Running in the dark can be an issue all year around; it isn’t just a winter thing. Obviously, in winter traction can be an issue all day, but at night it’s tougher to see ice. The buddy system is a good one to follow if the elements are coming into play and it’s dark.

Visibility is also huge for night or morning runs. This is one area where I’m actually terrible. I don’t even own a reflective vest, and two of my primary winter jackets are black. The Nike jacket I own with reflective sleeves is fantastic for winter though.

Reflective arm bands, light arm banks, and head lamps are all excellent ways to be seen as well. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t wear my head lamp as often as I should, partly because it’s terrible. Not a bright light.

But remember, you could be lit up like a Christmas Tree and still be unseen by drivers.

As runners and/or bikers, I think we’re all aware of seeing lights and reflective gear on the road, but not everyone is.

Ever since a group run where a buddy of mine was hit by a car, I’ve grown extremely conservative and attentive any time I come to an intersection. Is it worth the extra 30 seconds at a light to ensure you don’t get hit? Yes.

And I know some drivers are terrible, and you’ve got to be aware at all intersections. Just because there’s a Stop Sign, for example, doesn’t mean the cars will actually stop. I’ve seen this plenty, and verbally berated the drivers accordingly.

I don’t really want to get into running alone vs a group, or “safe” vs “unsafe” areas. That’s a post for another time.

But how do you all stay safe when you run? Either from the elements or traffic.

Oh, and how do y’all keep your feet warm on these sub 0 days?

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