Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Be Safe Out There

As you probably know (I think I have mentioned it here and/or the blog FB page) I am just about to begin my HM training plan. This go-around I am following one from Runner’s World Magazine aimed to get me across that finish line under 2:30. This would be a PR for me- my current best is 2:38 from back in January of 2013. I have been running since maybe February/March (can’t remember how long it has been since I was cleared for full activity post-op) but really started working on my base mileage these past few months and started both running consistently and running outdoors over the last four weeks aiming for 3-4 runs a week. It’s been an adjustment, especially learning a new area, but it has been great.

 I got new running shoes. I hated them at first but love them now that I have adjusted. Does anyone else get sad when they learn that their make/model of shoes has been discontinued?

I fight with my GPS and/or my RoadID app most days but thankfully E bought me a new GPS watch (the Forerunner 220) and that should be in my hands tomorrow! Yay for new and hopefully more reliable technology!

It’s hot as crap most every morning I run but that is to be expected running outdoors in Florida during peak summer heat. But running during the heat I know will pay off in the long run especially since the last half marathon I ran in November reached the 90’s by the time I was finished. I need to be prepared for that same reality this time around.

But the big change in my training this time around is training somewhere new, somewhere without sidewalks or trails or running paths. Not that there aren’t any in Pensacola, there just aren’t any near my house. I was definitely spoiled in San Antonio. I was able to run right from my front door all over a neighborhood that was well lit, had sidewalks, and was super safe. And on the weekends there were plenty of running trails/paths for me to explore. Here…not so much.

But I digress. I am where I am and I will make the best of it. So what does this mean for my training? It means safety has become HANDS DOWN my number one priority. I run on a street that is about as wide as two cars. There are no lane lines, there are no shoulders and there are no sidewalks. I am now officially a street runner.

Good news: I am running through a pretty quiet neighborhood so there is not too much auto traffic at 6a. If there was, I would find somewhere else to run. Another cool thing about where I run is the street names (yes, I know this seems weird but wait for it…) – I live between 9 and ½ Mile Rd and Ten Mile Rd. A little ways up the road is 9 Mile Rd. Weird names right? Well they have significance- they are the distance from the water line, meaning 9 Mile Rd and 10 Mile Rd are a mile apart. This makes it super easy to gauge distance. A loop from 9 and ½ Mile to 10 Mile is one mile, a loop from 9 Mile to 10 Mile is 2 miles, etc. It’s nice and makes life easy. This isn’t really relevant to the topic of safety; it’s just something cool I thought I would share.

Anyway….since my running conditions have changed I have had to take some extra safety precautions and so I thought I would share.

1.       No Music! – I don’t run with headphones  (while street running) for the same reason I don’t listen to music when I ride my bike. My hearing is my only line of defense between me and the cars so why even risk it. Yes, running against traffic allows me to see the cars headed towards me but my concern is the cars behind me. If there are two cars coming down the road (in opposite directions) at the same time I need to get my butt off the road and onto the grass. I take myself out of the equation, not even allowing the cars to have to choose between moving away from me or swerving around each other.

2.       Share My Route – the Garmin Forerunner 220 has this feature but my current GPS watch does not. So, currently I use the RoadID app to share my route. I love this app because it allows you text someone your route, so they can track you while your run is in progress, but also has feature that sends out an alert if you have stopped moving.  Sidenote: the Bia Sport, one of the GPS watches I looked into buying, has an SOS alert feature that sound when you press a button.

3.       Emergency Info – not only do I use the RoadID app but I also wear a RoadID bracelet. The bracelet has my name and city info but also has a serial number and phone number on it. If something were to happen to me a paramedic could call the number, give them the serial number off my bracelet and have access to my emergency contacts, medical information and health insurance info. Also, in addition to the bracelet my lock screen on my phone has my emergency contacts as well. This is a feature part of the RoadID app I choose to use. Not as glamorous as most people’s lock screens but gives me some peace of mind.

4.       Stand Out- I run after the sun is already up but soon it won’t be so. Even if it is sunny outside I still wear brightly colored clothes/shoes. And during those times when I do happen to run before the sun comes up I wear reflective bands around my waist and ankles, my running shoes are reflective, and I have a flashy light I clip to a hat/visor. I want any car on the road to know I am there.  And get out of my way…lol!

5.       Abide the Rules of the Road- if I am running, I run against the flow of traffic. If I am cycling, I ride with the flow of traffic. I always keep an eye out for people backing out of their driveways, and yield to them. Same goes with vehicles that are turning. I always stop at stop signs (even if it’s just momentarily to check for cars in both directions) and I never cross against the flow of traffic with the right of way. I just try to be smart out there, because in any battle of car vs Dacia car will always win.

6.       Buddy Up- most days (almost all of them) I run alone. Not because I want to but because I don’t usually have a running partner in the mornings. But when I can, I try to run with someone else.  Most days I find comfort in knowing I see the same people walking and biking throughout the neighborhood. I pass the same cars every morning (and pretty much know what house they come from), I see the construction workers going to and from their office which is near our house, and now I see the parents and kids waiting on the school bus. Even though I am alone there are usually other people out and about and that definitely makes me feel safer.

7.       Don’t Be Stupid- I think this goes without saying but I always try to err on the side of caution when it comes to running outdoors. I don’t run alone through wooded trails at night (even during daylight can be scary when alone), I don’t run through areas that are unfamiliar or appear to be sketchy (I always try to do some recon beforehand), and I don’t run if there is a heat advisory telling me not to go outdoors – which is what happened last weekend so I opted to treadmill it up. I just try to not put myself in a position where I could get attacked or hurt or pass out from heat stroke. I try to make smart choices. Training is important but living is more important.

I know these precautions are nothing new. I am sure you have heard all of them before. But today’s post is written more for peace of mind for myself and for my loved ones that worry about me. I just want them to know (I’m looking at you, Mom and Dad) that I am safe and doing everything I can to stay that way.

Oh, I just had an idea….maybe E should ride alongside me some mornings now that he has a bike. What do you think? Great idea, right?

Love and hugs-