Happy national Running Safety Month! As temperatures cool into frosty and frozen ranges with snow and (freezing) rain and our hours of sunlight fade from fall into winter, it’s a great time to set strong common-sense safety practices and habits in motion to better protect us on the roads and trails. Although we haven’t had much snow here yet, I remember that it snowed on Halloween for the first time about a month ago. But since then, I’ve taken some steps to make my running safer.
First, I was out of Yaktrax, the special running spikes for winter months. My previous pair was worn out and my imitation lightweight Yaktrax were also finished. Kaput. At Costco, I found the lightweight Yaktrax Snow Trax for only $10 (a great deal). Then I remembered we had a $10 Costco gift certificate for joining so those Yaktrax were free. And I finally made the trail trek to Fleet Feet Lincoln (previously known as Red Dirt) to buy some new Yaktrax. I had a $15 coupon to Fleet Feet from my placing in the Run to Overcome 10k so that decided where I was buying the Yaktrax Run.
What can Yaktrax do? We simply slip them over our shoes (and fasten the fancier Yaktrax Run with velcro; no velcro on Snow Trax those are completely slip on) and they grip the running surface very well when there is snow and ice and stabilizes our running. For light precipitation, I will use the slip-on Snow Trax that do not require velcro fastening. (I might even wear the Snow Trax for walking the dog around the block.) For tougher conditions (and the Empyrean Trail 10k in January), I will use the full-fledged Yaktrax Run. I’ve raced in them before (Empyrean Trail 5k last year). Don’t have much slipping or sliding in these, just be careful if you detect icy conditions. The steel coils perform well and the spikes are very solid. Just be careful with snow depth when you run in Yaktrax (I ruined a pair going through a snowdrift that was way too deep). Also, the heel tab on the Yaktrax Run is reflective.
Sometimes it’s still too dangerous to run outside due to cold/wind, precipitation, and especially icy/slippery conditions. When that is the case, I move my workouts to the treadmill and sometimes to the pool. What is our tolerance level with the cold, snow, and wind chill? That varies for all of us. The most important thing is to run safe, even if that means moving it inside.
Another thing you can do for running safety is to always run with a charged headlamp when conditions suggest it: if dark or precipitation falling, even if it is foggy. This can make a big difference. I prefer the Petzl headlamp Tikka R+ (has white and red light options and a blinking light capability).
Wear bright reflective clothing and shoes. Test your clothing and shoes for reflectivity. If it is lacking, try Brilliant Reflective safety strips. These are available at BrilliantReflective.com. It’s a wonderful way to enhance safety by simply adding stick-on or iron-on strips that boost your visibility substantially. I love to apply these strips to clothing, hats, shoes, our dog leash, jackets, vests, etc. The strips perform very well. Every once in a long time, I have to reapply or replace a safety strip but it’s easy to do. Otherwise, sometimes if these get wet due to moisture/precipitation, they just need to be applied a little more firmly if edges begin to peel a bit. Very simple process. If you have questions about Brilliant, please do not hesitate to ask me as I am a Brilliant Reflective ambassador.
What else can we do to be safer on the roads? Minimize distractions and run in well-lit areas. For me, that means avoiding using headphones when running (especially when running with the dog). Sometimes I might wear headphones just to block the wind but am generally not listening to anything other than nature and the ambient sounds we encounter on the run. Pay attention. Be mindful of all potential hazards.
Wear Road ID. I have one that has all my contact and safety info on it and tells people that I have asthma in case they need to know. I prefer to wear a Road ID wristband although there are other ways to wear Road ID now.
Run with a group or a friend whenever you can. Usually it is safer to run with others, especially if it is dark. If you don’t have a friend to run with, run with your dog.
Carry your phone with you for safety when you run and/or walk, bike, and exercise. In case of an emergency, it’s better to have it. Try to have the phone charged up before you leave too. The added peace of mind is worth it.
Hopefully you are having a good and safe year with your running, workouts, and exercise. Take care my friends. Have a healthy safe fall/winter and carry your safety routine into December when the weather becomes more frightful. But with a strong healthy safety routine, running can be so delightful. Let it snow?