Warning: Dead horse ahead. This is a topic that has been discussed over and over again. I’m sure it’s even something I’ve mentioned before. However after my run yesterday morning, I feel the need to reiterate it again, especially as the days have grown shorter with the time change.
Obviously I’m talking about running safety and more specifically safety in the dark and/or bad weather. Because we all know that we are crazy and an active volcano couldn’t keep us from our long run.
One nice thing about the time change is that sunrise happens at 6:30am rather than 7:30. This means when I get home from my runs that start prior to 6am, it’s light outside. BUT it is still black as pitch when I go out and yesterday was no different. Another thing about yesterday…it was a really unseasonably warm 60 degrees. I wore shorts and a long sleeved tech shirt and regretted the long sleeves about a mile in. With the weird, warm, humid temps there came fog that you could cut through with a knife.
It was actually pretty cool to run in the fog even if I was having a mini heart attack every 5 minutes or so when a weird shape would come into view that could be a mailbox, tree stump, deer, another runner, or an axe murderer. There’s not a whole lot of street lights around here which made it especially hard to tell.
Because it was right around 6am, there was a fair amount of cars driving past with people starting their morning commute as I ran on the sidewalk along one of my usual routes. Sometimes I will run in the street, but on a morning like this when the visibility was really poor I never would have chanced it. I figured not a lot of people would if they had a sidewalk option. I was wrong. A weird shape materialized out of the fog and I had maybe 20 seconds of playing ‘Mailbox, Deer, or Murderer’ before I realized it was another runner. I probably would have seen her sooner if she hadn’t been dressed in all dark clothes or wearing any sort of reflective gear at all. As she got nearer I saw that she was running in the street, with the flow of traffic. And earbuds in.
I’m not one of those people that makes weirdo claims about someone not being a real runner if they wear earbuds. I like to listen to music on a very low level unless I’m doing speed work. I don’t know what kind of volume her music was set to, but having the earbuds in at all with her back to traffic and dressed like a ninja in the dark and fog seemed like a bad idea.
Please don’t do this.
The road we were on has a 35MPH speed limit, but people drive MUCH faster. In fact it was the road where I came upon this scenario a couple months ago. I probably should have stopped her and suggested she use the sidewalk, but I didn’t want to overstep any boundaries. I hope the next time I see her – and I will see her again because she’s a regular around here – that it’s not the same scene.
In the meantime, please:
- Dress for visibility. I know we all love our neon. Reflective vests or bands are great investments too. Currently I am obsessed with this jacket from New Balance. It is probably disappointing in real life, but all the photos I’ve seen of it are so cool. (Can anyone confirm this?)
- Wear or carry lights. I just ordered knuckle lights for the winter so people can see me, but also so I can see freaking ANYTHING. My neighborhood is so dark. I’m lucky I haven’t tripped and busted myself up recently. (It already happened once last year.)
- Run against traffic. It’s a lot easier to get out of the way of a car if you can see it coming toward you.
- I know some people are anti-sidewalk because it’s harder on the legs, but on dark, twisty roads if you have the option I feel it’s best to take it.
- Be aware of your surroundings. If you listen to music it doesn’t need to be the soundtrack to your whole life. Keep the volume to a background level.
- Let someone know where you are going and always carry some kind of identification, wear a RoadID, or if you run with your smart phone, RoadID has a great free app that even has tracking so someone will always know your whereabouts.
STAY SAFE OUT THERE!
Do you have any other tips for running in the dark? What is your favorite piece of safety gear?