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Being Seen is Being Safe

With the recent changing of the clocks and Mother Nature dressing up as February for Halloween, there is no doubt that the seasons have changed here in the High Country. Our leaves are gone, our heaters are on and our days are getting shorter with each red ‘X’ across the calendar. This darkness doesn’t mean that we are doomed for 5 months of treadmill turning though. The darkness just means we should add a few items to our gear list so we can be safe out there and enjoy the outdoors for what it is this time of year.

The changing season means colder weather, wetter and slicker surfaces and less visibility to garner the attention of our vehicular adversaries on the roads. Obviously you want to drag out the layers for warmth. Gloves, hats, pants, jackets etc… More than that though, we need to suit up for safety and be aware of a few steps we can take to do our part to give those texters drivers their best chance to see you! Then, we can all get home safe and sound.

BE SEEN! This is the single most important thing you can do. Be visible, highly visible! A reflective vest, bright colored clothing (reflective is even better), blinking gizmos on all sides and reflective straps on your arms and ankles are the best ways to be sure that drivers and other pedestrians can see you easily. Take it upon yourself to stay safe and don’t expect that others are watching the road, much less looking for an obscure shadow of a random runner on the streets! In this example I am laced with 2 sets of battery operated LED lights normally sold for use at the Christmas Season… but that seems frivolous. Sure I go through a roll of duct tape each week applying my “system” but that is well worth the cost to send panic through my neighbor’s hearts when they see the oncoming alien invasion on the streets at night.

BE ABLE TO SEE! You obviously need to be aware of where your feet are landing. Wear a headlamp or carry a small LED flashlight. These will allow you too see irregularities in the running surface including pot holes, frost heaves, downed limbs, pedestrians and their pets and any other random items in your path. You may also consider wearing a reflective hat with a brim to protect your eyes from low hanging branches not easily seen in darkness.

A FEW GROUND RULES: 

  1. Always face the traffic when running, especially at night and assume that others do not see you. Playing chicken with a distracted driver might seem like the brave thing to do, but your story won’t go far at the ER. Best to be a defensive runner and avoid large metallic objects in the roadway.
  2. Leave the music at home. As a night runner it is important to have all your senses about you. (Let’s leave the jokes alone here, they are obvious and not appreciated.) We live in a relatively safe place here in the High Country but we should still take it upon ourselves to be aware of who and what is around us. So, turn off those tunes and take in the sounds of the evening- you might even find something special out there in that crisp air!
  3. There is safety in numbers. Potential attackers are looking for easy targets, don’t be one! If you can’t run with a buddy be sure to run in familiar areas, but vary your routes and times when you run. Always always ALWAYS let someone you trust know where you will be and when you will return… then, be sure you follow your plan! Carrying a phone and ID is not a bad idea either. For local running buddies visit Boone Running Club on Facebook to join a group run held regularly at the local running hot spots!
  4. If in doubt- get the heck out! If something seems iffy and you’re getting that sketchy feeling that something or someone could be dangerous- RUN AWAY! Criminals are notoriously un-fit. So now you have a real world practical excuse for getting in all those laps at the track! Maybe it was nothing, best to get in a good session of high intensity work and have a good story to tell about the time you broke 4 minutes avoiding Sasquatch’s van.

Alien invasion? No, just an average visibility kit.

The darkness is a great place to train. The lack of visibility lends itself to getting tuned into the movement of your body and the feeling af floating through a void. We have cooler/ cold temperatures, less traffic and more stillness in the air to sink into your thoughts at the end of the day. With flurries in the air, this is the season to build up the base of your training to prepare for the warmth months into the future of 2013 and soak in what you have accomplished this year!

Sure, your family and neighbors might think its strange that you run the streets dressed like a Christmas Tree… at least you’ve left the ornaments at home, you have right? Anyway, get into your night running habit now before the real chill arrives and the transition will have you running the best winter of your life!

Just don’t forget to put your lights back on the tree after your run…

Happy Running!

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