Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Safer Runs Are Better Runs

When it comes to getting my exercise, my absolute favorite thing to do is go for a long run.  Nothing clears my mind or prepares me for the day ahead like a long run on a nice, clear day. As soon as my run is over, I feel refreshed, ready for my shower and like I can take on the world.  While there are many benefits to running, there are many dangers to it as well that should be taken into consideration.  Some of these dangers are the injuries you can sustain as a result of running itself and others are not directly related to the sport.  Regardless, below are 10 tips that will help you become a better, safer runner if you do end up deciding that you'd like to hit the pavement for exercise as well!

1.  ALWAYS carry something to use for protection.  This can be as simple as running with your keys in your hands if you have nothing else.  You hold your keys in your hand inside a fist and one key poking out.  It doesn't seem harmful but it will hurt if you punch somebody with it.  If you plan ahead, it's a good idea to have pepper spray, maze or even a small knife.

2.  Run with music but not so loud that you can't hear what's going on around you.  Some headphones block out so much noise that you can't even hear a siren from a police car, fire truck and/or ambulance until it's on top of you.  Turn the volume down so you can be aware of your surroundings and are not caught off guard.  This is especially true if you have little ones.  Ideally, you should avoid running with headphones if you are pushing a stroller or running along side your little one on his or her bike.  You need to maintain communication and be alert for yourself and for them.

3.  Take water with you, even if it's a small amount.  It seems like a burden to carry it but it's important to remain hydrated throughout your runs.  Many sporting goods stores sell neoprene belts with small plastic bottles that attach to them so you won't even have to hold it.

4. Have your ID and a phone on you at all times. In case of an emergency and something happens to you, it is easy to identify you if you have your driver's license and/or some sort of ID on you. Having your phone also gives you a way to contact someone when in need of help and gives others the ability to contact someone for you if for some reason something happens and you are not conscious.  Accidents DO happen and you should be prepared, especially if you run on isolated trails.

5.  If you run in the dark, be it early in the morning or late at night, try to remain on well lit roads and paths.  Try to refrain from running in dark, isolated environments that a predator would be more likely to be in.   Listening to music is also discouraged since attackers are more likely to try and harm someone with headphones than someone without since they prevent you from hearing anyone approach.

6.  If you are attacked, fight and scream as loud as possible.  It will be your chance to get away by catching the attacker off guard and it will show him that you will not be submissive and fall prey.

7.  If you do not know how to defend yourself, enroll in martial arts and/or self defense courses. They are often taught at local colleges and adult schools at a very low cost and can possibly save your life.

8.  Wear sunscreen. Even if it's cloudy and cold, the sun is strong and can damage your skin none the less.  A minimum of a 30 SPF sunscreen should be worn at all times when running or doing any sort of exercise outdoors.

9.  Wear a hat to protect your head and your eyes from the harmful rays of the sun.  The sunlight can sometimes hinder your vision and cause you to trip and fall if you are not careful.

10.  Wear good, supportive running shoes.  Your shoes are your only connection to the pavement and they are what help absorb the constant pounding your knees and leg joints will endure during a run. On average, running shoes should be replaced every 300 miles and/or every 3 months, whichever comes first.   It is also important to get a shoes that fits well and is specific to your running style.  It is a good idea to go to a specialty athletic shoe store and have someone analyze your step.  This will tell you whether you need a shoe for pronating, a stability shoe, trail shoe or other. For a quick reference, check out the "How to Choose Running Shoes" guide below courtesy of

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