Runners Notes
By Heather Cass Erie Times-News staff blogger
If you want to know anything about the local running scene, ask Heather Cass. A member of the Erie Runners Club for 10-plus years, she is immersed in the local fitness culture, and she's taking your questions.   Read more about this blog.
Posted: September 8th, 2011
Run smart or die (harsh but true)
It hit me (pun inteded) when I heard today’s news about Reese Witherspoon being hit by a car while running (I know it’s not funny, but she’s FINE…so chill) that it’s about that time of year when I need to remind you to be smart when running outdoors in fall & winter so that you live to see spring & summer again.

As autumn approaches, the nights are getting longer — meaning it’s likely most of us will be running or walking in the dark (or low-light conditions…which is almost worse)

Runners should always run defensively, but it’s even more important in the dark. Here are a few safety tips you should heed:

* Always run against traffic. Never run with traffic or you won’t be able to see potential danger and/or get out of the driver’s way. Don’t even think about getting into a battle over space with a 2,000 lb. vehicle — you won’t win — just get the hell out of the way.

* Never cross an intersection without making eye contact with the driver(s) waiting. I know of three friends who have been hit (on separate occasions) when they stepped into a crosswalk (they had the walk signal) and a car that was turning right on red failed to look right before they turned and nailed them. (In all cases the friends were OK, but…had weeks or months of healing).

* Be visible. Wear light colored clothing and put on lots of reflective gear. There’s no such thing as too much reflective gear (particularly if you run early in the AM when bleary-eyed drivers aren’t expecting to see someone running down the road). There are a number of Illuminite reflective items that don’t look “dorky.” Here are two I wear (the mesh vest for warm days, jacket for colder days):
ILL101.jpeg
vest.jpeg

* Carry a small flashlight. Get yourself one of those little 6-inch Mag-lights or use your daughter’s Disney Princess flashlight…doesn’t matter what it looks like — it just needs to fit comfortably in your hand (flashlights with a wrist strap are great). Flashlights are useful to alert drivers to your presence (for instance, we turn ours on when running on a busy road or a road with a blind curve) and are also useful for determining whether that dark spot in the road is a shadow you can run through or a splattered raccoon you’ll want to run around.

* Carry I.D. The is something my running partner continually chastises me for not doing. I tell him that I don’t need to because I’ll have him to I.D. my body. (he doesn’t find that even remotely funny, by the way). Truth is I have no excuse other than laziness now that the ERC has given me several “dog tags” that I can write my Emergency info on & pin to my shoe or tights. It’s that simple. No need to stuff your license in your undies…just get yourself an ID (you could even make one at the pet store…who said pet tags are only for pets). Not into dog tags? Check out www.roadid.com. where you can buy ID tags that strap to your ankle or wrist or thread onto your shoelaces.

* Vary your route. Runners are creatures of habit, but it’s smart to vary your route and days you run. I realize you may not be able to vary the time, but…don’t let your morning routine become predictable. Potential attackers can easily find a place to hide in the shadows.

* Leave the music at home. I love to run with music, but once it gets dark, I often run without it. I’m just not comfortable having two of my five senses handicapped. If I can’t see, I need to be able to hear potential danger.

* Carry a cell phone. I don’t carry my phone when I run in the summer — shorts and tank tops just don’t offer much space to stash a phone, but once winter comes, the weather turns colder and the mornings are dark, I often carry it in my jacket pocket.

* Run with a buddy. No doubt there is safety in numbers. Not only are you less likely to be victimized if you’re running with someone else, but…if you should fall in a pothole or off a curb (cause it’s dark and you can’t see) — there’s a friend to help you hobble off the road and, then, run for help.

* Follow your instincts. Ladies — you have sixth sense and you know it. When something is not right…you feel it all over. Go with that. If you’re feeling creeped out some morning (or evening) — trust your gut and run on the treadmill.

Look familiar? I originally posted this on August 27th, 2008. Why reinvent the wheel, right?

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