I see them all the time during the summer, those mid-day runners. Super productive people that take lunch breaks to run and then get back to work. Usually I think it’s fabulous…but right now we’re in the midst of a heat wave and I think it’s insane to run at noon!
Running in the evening is what I prefer. The cooler temperatures, empty sidewalks, quiet streets…there’s more of a zen to it that allows me to clear my mind. Whatever your motivation, whether its the weather, kids bedtimes, work schedules, etc, there are a lot of us night time runners out there!
Last night, I took it to the extreme. I started my run at midnight (nope, I don’t recommend this), and while I was running in the wee hours of the morning by myself I was thinking of all the precautions runners should take when they step out for a long distance, late and alone.
1. Tell someone where you’re going. Leave a note on the table or text a friend. Make sure that someone knows what you’re doing, which route you’re taking and approximately how long you might be gone. I use my iPhone for the Nike+ GPS app and music, and it’s handy to have a cell phone on you in case you run into trouble or get hurt.
2. Choose a running route that well light and busy if possible. This is where a little common sense applies, best to be running in the open then alone on a dark trail.
3. Run against traffic, it’s easier to avoid and/or deal with what you can see. Run behind vehicles at intersections, even though they are stopped, there’s no guarantee that they saw you.
4. Run with the music on low, or one earphone out. A little awareness goes a long way at night. The best solution is to ditch your earphones, play the music through the speaker instead if you must. Author Deborah Dunham posted an article titled ‘This Horrifying Statistic Will Keep You From Wearing An iPod When Running‘ on www.blisstree.com, in the article she stated;
“the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, serious injuries to pedestrians listening to headphones have increased by 300% in the last six years. What’s worse, 70% of the people in these accidents were killed. That’s a number that’s hard to ignore. Not only do we have a greater chance of getting into an accident while running–or walking or biking–if we’re listening to our iPods, chances are we won’t survive if that happens.”
5. Be sure to hydrate and bring water. Especially in the summer heat! It not like the old days when we ran with a walkman (oh yes, I did that) in one hand and a water bottle in the other. There are a slew of great water belts out there for runners and for the most part, they aren’t that expensive. From what I’ve read and understood from more experienced runners the golden rule is that you should consume water and carbs during any run that is either over 60 mins or 10 kms. You can read more about hydration in Running For Fitness‘ article ‘Drinking while running.’.
6. Bring carbs/electrolyte replacements. My absolute favourite (ridiculously tasty!) is Organic Energy Chews by Honey Stinger. Being organic is a plus, it has the right ingredients and nutritional values, it boosts my energy, and they don’t get stuck in your mouth when you’re trying to eat them. If you haven’t tried them yet for your long runs, oh my…seriously…best ever! To understand more on electrolytes and calculate your needs as a runner, read ‘Electrolytes for runners: The definitive guide’ by Runner Connect.
7. Have some sort of identification on hand. If you get in an accident or have a medical issue, it’ll be easier for emergency teams to help you. Another suggestion would be to stick a piece of paper in your running belt that includes;
- Your full name and address
- Emergency contact information
- Any medical conditions
- Blood type
- Regular Physician’s contact info
Personally I bring my drivers license, health card, and a few bucks (in case I need to bus or cab home).
8. Make sure you’re clearly visible to drivers! Whether it’s light clothing, reflective wear or lights, wear something that will make you visible from a distance. I wore light clothing and a flashing light on my belt for last night’s run. Colours like white or yellow are best. There are even new electroluminescent technology options, which create glow in the dark products for runners!
9. Change up your running routes/times. It’s basic safety, especially when running alone (always better to run with a partner at night) to vary your running routes so that you don’t create a pattern. Being predictable by running at the same time and on the same path could put you in danger if the wrong person is paying attention. Besides, predictable is boring, learn to switch things up!
10. Follow your instincts. If your gut is telling you something, trust it. Chances are you’re getting creeped out for a reason. If you’re running down a street and something does feel right, it’s time to get out of there.