Runners tend to have that immortality view of ourselves, but there won't be any personal bests if you don't exercise some good common sense.
How many of us found ourselves outside running during the recent “dusting” of snow we got? I know I did. And loved it! I was alone in the world with no cars, no other pedestrians and not a care in the world… except for 12+ inches of snow. And 40 mph winds. And biting cold. And… wait, what am I doing out here?
A friend of mine shared a story about his recent post-storm run. As he was out and about, a snow plow drove past him at a low rate of speed (apparently to avoid spraying him with snow). A few minutes later, the plow reappeared and slowed as it approached him. Stopping, the driver got out and handed my friend a safety vest, stating “I could barely make you out as I drove by because your white shirt blended in with the snow banks.” Well, there’s a lightbulb moment!
Runners tend to have that immortality view of ourselves when it comes to all sorts of things. Most of us eat with reckless abandon. Many of us could use a few extra trips to the doctor for wellness visits. Tweak an ankle or knee? That’ll go away on its own.
Anyone who knows me also knows that I counsel safety when out and about. Here are a few of my “preaching points”:
• wear sunblock,
• run with someone or at least tell someone where you are running,
• carry identification,
• take out the ear buds and pay attention to your surroundings,
• hydrate well,
• run facing traffic.
There are more, but those are my stock “Safety First” pointers.
A few years ago, there was a story about a bicyclist from Charlottesville, Virginia who routinely rode a 90-mile circuit every Saturday to Roanoke and back. One fateful Saturday, he was tragically struck and killed by a car. Complete accident, but it was three days until his family learned of his fate because… he carried no identification while out riding.
During my snow run last month, I will tell you that I did carry a cell phone with me. I even stopped a couple of times for some social media moments. But regularly, I do not carry a communications device. I also don’t wear an iPod or other music player. Guess I’m one for two in that department.
I do wear a Road ID (www.roadid.com) and usually alert family as to where I am running. Usually. For the most part, I am a solo runner so I probably could do a better job in that department, too. Oh, and my last full physical was two years ago.
Here’s one that drove the kids nuts – as a first-year cross country coach, I was informed by the head coach that the distance runners were to remain on campus. Are you serious? The loop around campus was 0.9 miles. A nine-mile run was going to be a complete borefest! So what did we do? With the athletic director’s permission, we supplied safety vests to all of the runners. There were nearly 40 but they all got a vest. They hated it, but even at 4 p.m. in September, visibility can mean survival. I had the same issue with my first track job. Vests were supplied and the roads opened up to the team.
Safety isn’t glamourous. Safety isn’t something folks brag about on their social media posts. Safety isn’t judged or timed or scored. But without safety, your chances of having a social media post to post is reduced. Get lost? It’s a long way to the top, if you wanna rock-n-roll. And there just may be no personal bests this summer if you don’t exercise some good common sense this spring.
Take stock of you how train. And see where you can improve your safety while getting in your daily five. I’ve taken to running the Castle Trail along the C&D Canal a lot lately. Though slightly more boring than running up Red Lion Road, I can guarantee the only vehicular traffic I encounter is a member of the park services, clearing the trail of excess snow or installing a new park bench.
Yeah, I’ll still be out on those epic inclement weather days, and I probably could do with one less slice of pizza. But for the most part, I think I do a pretty good job of exercising safety. May you do the same. Please.
Former standout Lock Haven University runner Andy Shearer is a member of the Middletown Athletic Club, the Greater Philadelphia Track Club and USA Track and Field.