Sunday, May 8

Listen to your mama - lessons in running safety

In honor of Mother's Day, today's post is about running safety.

And I don't mean "Don't run with scissors - you'll put someone's eye out!" (Although that is good advice, too.)

Before I lose my male audience here, assault is not the only safety concern for runners. In 2009 more than 4,000 pedestrians were struck and killed by cars in the United States. Florida has the highest pedestrian fatality rate, at 2.5 fatalities per 100,000 residents (compared to a national average of 1.3), but unless you live in Wyoming or Vermont (which tend to have fewer than 5 incidents per year) your risk is definitely not zero.

So here are my three favorite "things your mama would tell you if she was a runner" safety tips:

1 - Look and listen: Be aware of your surroundings - people, cars, potholes, roots sticking out of the trail. I am not a no-headphones curmudgeon, but you can't hear a car coming if you have the volume on so loud that it drowns out background noise. If you must listen to music while running outdoors, keep the volume low. Apparently the listening in one-ear-only option isn't all that safe either, according to Runner's World. Whatever the circumstances, safety experts agree that being alert is the best way to avoid a dangerous situation.

2 - Use your voice: Whether it's a potential mugger, or a car about to blow through a stop sign (and your kneecaps), YELL. LOUDLY.
Shouting at an errant driver has saved my knees more than once. If the driver doesn't see you, making him or her hear you may mean the difference between an accident and a close call.
With personal threats, most perpetrators are looking for a victim that they can harass without much notice. So if someone is approaching you and you yell "No" "Stop" or "Back Off" you draw attention to the situation and reduce your attractiveness as a target for crime. I learned this (and other tactics) during a self defense course, which was 90 minutes well spent.

3 - Buddy up: Use the buddy system when running. I know, this is starting to sound like an after-school special, but sometimes there were good lessons to be learned in all the cheeseball antics of those hour-long morality-fests. Running with a partner is ideal, but some of the joy of running comes from going out alone. So if you're running solo make sure a trusted person knows what time you're leaving, the route you're taking, and when you'll return... because you don't want to wind up like Aron Ralston.

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