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V is for versatility. Versatility is a challenging yet wonderful skill that is not fully utilized or emphasized enough. With this skill, we can be more flexible and adaptable to adjust our life to constantly-changing conditions. And versatility is important for all of us: athletes or not and it is a significant principle when it comes to safety as well.

Let me explain why versatility is so important: in training, we cannot be one-dimensional. For example, I cannot train for a full marathon by simply running long or by only running fartlek despite (speed play) how much I love it. There has to be some rotating variance there in that routine to allow for sufficient improvement and recovery. Climbing weeks and recovery weeks. Tough workouts and easy workouts. Maybe even some days off to recover when needed. After trying several different types of workouts, we will find that we are strong with others and that others are just simply more challenging. Over time, the more that we rotate to different workouts we become stronger in all of them. And we are well-rounded athletes. If we incorporate strength, flexibility, and core work into our routines, we are able to avoid injuries and reach new levels of performance.

Versatility is also very important when it comes to safety. We can’t depend on any one safety mechanism. We must have several interlocking safety practices in place that intersect and reinforce one another. Road ID is very important but may not be enough to protect me in the event of a collision. Nor can I only depend on a headlamp: we must have secondary safety systems. Even Brilliant Reflective alone is not enough to protect me by itself or to completely guarantee my safety. But adding Brilliant Reflective to my clothing and gear enhances my safety and makes me safer. Same for my dog with the tape on her leash.

The most dangerous thing we can do in trying to be safe is just assuming that we are or that one safety improvement guarantees our safety. It’s better to question and audit safety and security on the run to ensure that all reasonable safety precautions are taken. And we must have a pretty deep consciousness of safety in order to keep not only us safe, but also our friends and family members who we may accompany on workouts and/or affect their safety measures each of them take to protect themselves.

In seeking stronger safety mechanisms or safety valves, I conduct random safety/visibility audits of my clothes, gear and shoes that I use for running. Yesterday I realized that one of my pair of running shoes does not have any reflectivity on them. And I’m out of Brilliant tape except for the iron-on variety so I need to order more to tape these as soon as possible to make sure that I can be seen on the road. In the meantime, I’m making sure that I’m not wearing these shoes with no reflectivity in the dark (until I have them taped and reflecting brightly and brilliantly).

Can versatility be taken too far? Yes, as in the case of multi-tasking too much, we can spread ourselves too thin to the point that we don’t grow. So there has to be some balance.

Critics may say that versatility takes us too broad and then we never get to the depth of the matter. I strongly disagree. If depth is the focus and it takes diverse approaches to reach the depth we seek, we will diversify our methodologies to reach the goal, the target.

One other item that I found in yesterday’s safety audit was a Road Runner Sports singlet that was losing reflectivity on both sides. I also realized that my UnderArmour Okoboji shirt reflective logo is starting to crack and fade a little. So it’s smarter to tape that shirt later or layer it with a singlet that has Brilliant Reflective safety strips added to it.

So let’s iron! It only takes a few minutes.

Misty wonders: Does this versatility in safety practices apply to dogs? Yes, Misty. We have Brilliant Reflective applied to both sides of your leash, remember? And your Kong collar is reflective, too.

So how much extra safety enhancement does adding these 10 pieces of Brilliant Reflective to this running singlet add? A lot. Two strips in front, 2 in back, 3 on each side in wheel-spoke formation. I chose the wheel spoke shape because when we run, our arms will shift from front to back and in different patterns, depending on what direction we are going. Even if one of the 3 in the wheel spoke are not visible, the other 2 should be. And I like purple. So I matched this running outfit with my Nathan vest that has Brilliant Reflective on the front and back (also purple).

Wearing the newly-treated singlet over the fading UnderArmour shirt is safer (until I add BR to the UA shirt). So that’s what I chose to do today. Layer with bright reflective clothes and gear. Even if it’s adding a reflective vest or just something with reflective strips on it, every little bit helps increase our safety.

So how versatile is the Brilliant Reflective tape? Is it visible in shady and sunny conditions. Yes, let me share photos to show you that it is versatile enough for all weather conditions. And it reflects 200X brighter than a normal white T-shirt. Quite bright.

If you are feeling stuck in a workout or exercise plateau, try adding some more versatile workouts to your routine. Variety. Balance. See if it helps. (If you need any help, I’m a running and health coach and happy to help you in any way and answer any questions you might have.) And to paraphrase that Verizon commercial, instead of can you hear me now we should all ask: can you see me now? (If not, take some safety precautions like adding Brilliant Reflective safety strips.) We do not want to be invisible when it comes to safety: we want to be visible, to be safe. Leave invisibility to our imagination where it belongs.

By strengthening our versatility as individuals, we can go deep diversely. Not in just one way but in many different ways. Balancing long runs with speed work, easy runs with hard runs, we become the runners we were meant to be in a deeper sense. Go deep! The big gains and improvements do not come without going deep in the right way. And if our safety is enhanced by interwoven best practices, street smarts, and helpful enhancements, we can ensure that we are keeping ourselves and others safer, encouraging others to do the same. Just as we apply peer pressure to encourage each other to become more healthy, we can do the same with safety.

Flex your versatility and go deep diversely for success! Happy healthy safer trails! Happy Labor Day! ~Jeremy