Sunday, July 21, 2013

Running Safety

The sub-heading for this blog post should read: Do as I say, not as I do.  But more on that soon.

We had a great day today.  I ran some errands in the morning and then we headed to the Gottschalk's house for lunch and a play date.  The Gottschalk's are dear friends, whose friendship began 12 years ago (can you believe it, Roomie?) when Mrs. G, who happens to also be named Laura, and I became college roommates.  I'm so thankful that we have stayed close and that now our kids can play together.  Laura and Bill have two daughters who are very close in age to Nick and Jack and it is so sweet watching them play together.  We had hot dogs and s'mores toasted on the fire pit and the kids played on the trampoline and ran through the sprinkler.  Nothing brings you back to your childhood like watching kids run through a sprinkler.  It was a great afternoon!

When we got home, Matt made a great dinner on the grill; pork steaks and corn on the cob!  I love grill season! After I got Jack to sleep, I wanted to get in a wog and looking at the clock, I thought I would have plenty of time.

Since it is summertime, I have figured out that as long as I get on the trail by 8:15, I have enough daylight to get in a wog around the big loop (about 2.6 miles) before it's too dark.  When I left my house at 8 tonight, I thought "hmm, it's a bit dark outside" which should have been a red flag, but alas, it was not.  I need to start taking into account that it is getting later in the summer and daylight is getting shorter.  Not to mention the fact that we had some rain in the area, so there was a lot of cloud cover resulting in less sunlight.  I am all for getting in a workout when you can, but in the case of tonight, I should have probably moved my workout indoors (not my preferred method) or asked for company on my wog.

About mid-way through my wog, it was getting a bit too dark for my taste.  I usually prefer to be able to see my car if it is that dark.  But, I was committed and I had to get back to my car somehow, so I pushed on.  From about .4 miles to 2 miles, I saw no other people and that was a little disconcerting.  The trail weaves in and out of some woods, which I normally love, but tonight it was a bit creepy.  My mind tends to wander towards creepers hanging out in the woods or animals going crazy (have I mentioned there are a lot of deer on this trail?), so once it started getting really dark and I was in the wooded section of the trail, I pulled out my trusty pepper spray and made sure it was unlocked and ready to go.  Thank goodness I didn't accidentally spray  myself.

In hindsight, I should have also probably taken out my Yurbuds in order to hear my surroundings (in case an actual creeper was behind me), but frankly, I was listening to an awesome Another Mother Runner podcast (http://anothermotherrunner.com/) and the ladies on the podcast were keeping me company and making me feel less alone.  On another run last summer that was also pushing daylight, I compromised and took one Yurbud out so I could listen to the sounds around me and still listen to my music, but I'm not sure why this didn't cross my mind tonight.  In any case, I was visually very aware of my surroundings and constantly looking around and behind me to make sure I was safe.

My splits on my wog were really good tonight and it was a great workout, but I was never so relieved to see my car.  In summary, my running safety tips are below and again, do as I say, not as I do:

  1. If you head out for a run and you think it is too dark outside to complete your workout, it probably is.  Ask a friend to join you or stick to an indoor workout if you must.  Try not to run alone, if possible.
  2. Be aware of your surroundings, even if it means taking your beloved Yurbuds out and running music or podcast-free.  Continually look behind you and to your sides to make sure you are safe.  It probably looks weird, but I'd rather look weird and be safe. 
  3. This next tip might not be for everyone, but if you are in the habit of running by yourself (as I frequently am), carry pepper spray or another personal safety device with you.  I feel infinitely safer when I run with my pepper spray.  It is attached to my keys so I always have it with me on the trail. 
  4. I attended a self-defense class last year and something the instructor said stuck with me.  If you are out by yourself, make eye contact with everyone you come in contact with and smile and say hi.  This serves several purposes; by making eye contact with someone who might be a potential criminal you've given yourself the opportunity to i.d. the person and by initiating conversation with a smile and a greeting, you've proved to a potential criminal that you are confident and assertive, i.e. not an easy target.  I generally make eye contact with people I pass on the trail and say hi to be polite, so it was nice to hear that my politeness was also a deterrent to a potential criminal. 
Do you have any other safety tips for working out whether you are alone or in a group?  Next time I'm out on the trail, I will be better about following my own tips!

"What you get by achieving your goals isn't as important as what you become by achieving your goals."