Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Run Wild... but be safe

Tonight we were driving home a little after 5:00 and Katie asked me if she could go for a walk around the block when we got home.  Normally I'd be thrilled, but at this time of year darkness falls by 5:30.  I said a quick "no way" and told her she was welcome to use the treadmill if she'd like to walk.

Why was I so hesitant?

First, I've followed the story of Sherry Arnold very carefully.  Sherry is a mom, wife, teacher, and runner who went missing on January 7th.  She was last seen leaving her home for an early morning run and is now presumed dead.

Then I saw this story about a 19-year-old woman who was brutally attacked.  This occurred just minutes from my home- my neighborhood- which I always think of as quiet and safe.

Now, I'm not asking you to stop running outdoors and I'm not asking you to never run alone.  We can't live in fear... but we can use caution.  Here are just a few tips:

Stay in touch.  Don't head into remote areas after dark or in the pre-dawn hours.  Seriously, you don't want to twist an ankle in the middle of nowhere.  And take your cell phone.  I know, it's inconvenient to have one more thing to carry.  Invest in one of these nifty SPI belts and use it.
Be seen.  This is a time when reflective, neon clothing is very cool.  I typed the word "reflective" into the Amazon search engine and poof! I found a vest, wrist bands, and and LED strobe light.  There are tons of other flashy accessories... you choose.

Keep your eyes open.  When Katie and Mandy complained that they couldn't even play in their yard after darkness fell at 5:30, I bought them this set of LED headlamps.  At $11 for a pair, I thought this was a great deal.  The girls are happy because their hands are free for making snowballs and they can see where they're headed.

Share your itinerary.  Make sure someone knows your regular running route.  Leave a note if you're taking a different route.  And let someone know approximately how long you plan to be gone.  I must admit, I've never been good about these things.  But, I plan on changing my ways in the interest of safety.

Keep your ears open.  I love music when I run.  But not in the dark.  Don't deprive yourself of one of your senses.  And even in the sunshine, keep your volume at a level that still allows you to hear the world around you.

Check out this post by Dimity McDowell, co-author of Run Like a Mother.   Her tips are more extensive than mine.

And I'll add one more... run WITH your kids.  Eventually they'll be old enough to follow all the safety tips and head out on their own.  Until then, be a team.

What's your best safety tip?
Would you wear the headlamp or would you feel like a dork?

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