Run Safe


I think it’s important to address runner safety periodically, just to remind us all to consider it, at least on occasion. Runners should be mindful of their surroundings day or night, road or trail. Bad and unexpected things can happen to anyone, anywhere. The number one threat, in my book, to runners is other people.

I know out on the trail there is the possibility of getting lost, falling and having a serious injury, or animal attacks, however, these are less frequent than attacks by other people.

It’s also my opinion that road runners are at higher risk, just because there are more people around them. The approaching winter always makes me think about these things because I’ll be on the roads almost exclusively since the mountains are covered with snow and ice to the point where both running and driving in the canyons become an issue, unless you snowshoe or ski/snow board, which I don’t.

Here are my tips for staying safe out there:

  1. Run with a friend
  2. Make sure people know where you’re going and when you expect to be back
  3. Carry your phone
  4. Run against traffic
  5. Wear lights (red flashing rear/front and a headlamp) and reflective gear
  6. Wear bright colors
  7. Carry runners mace: buy here
  8. SING: solar plexis, instep, nose, and groin. These are the places to hit in order to disable your attacker quickly and effectively.
  9. Change your routes and/or time of day that you run.
  10. Keep at least one earbud out at all times
  11. Have identification on your person. Road ID is great for this, you can find it here.
  12. Pretend you’re invisible, in other words assume drivers and others don’t see you and act accordingly. If a driver doesn’t make eye contact and waive you through, stop and wait for them to go.
  13. Be cautions around blind turns and hills.
  14. Use extra caution during the early morning at dusk. Lighting is strange and the sun can be directly in the face of drivers.
  15. Make eye contact with other people as you pass them.
  16. Call out when you approach others from behind (you don’t want to scare the shit out of them).

There are safety apps out there for both the iphone and android. Not only can you use them for running but put them on your kids phones and tell other people about them.

  1. Bsafe has an alarm you can sound with a touch on your phone. It activates your camera and starts recording a video, and broadcasting your location to your friends. The video, voice, location and time are stored on bsafe servers. You can set up a timer that will alert friends/family if you don’t check in by that time (you can update this as you move). Best of all this app is free! Android and apple.
  2. Glympse allows others to track you while you run. They don’t have to have the app on their phone to do it. Android and apple.
  3. RunSafe allows you to track your activites like any running app. It has a panic button feature which alerts your contacts and sounds an alarm, activates your flashlight and records sounds. This is free and has upgrade options for a $4.99 monthly subscription. Android and Apple
  4. RoadID has an app as well. It lets your friends and family actively follow your digital trail, sends an SOS message with your location if you stop moving for five minutes and don’t respond to the app’s alert within 60 seconds. This is free. Only for apple.
  5. Reactmobile alerts 911 or sends your GPS coordinates to your emergency contacts with a touch of a button. It’s similar to bsafe. Friends and family can also track you real time. Free. Android and apple.
  6. Kitestring is an app you activate when you enter a potentially unsafe situation. It checks up on you after a period of time and if you don’t respond or post pone the check in, it sends a customized emergency message to your pre-selected contacts. It’s free.

Be Safe out there and if you have other ideas please share them, we have to stick together.

Running in the Dark

running in the dark

It’s dark, very dark. You can’t see a thing beyond the glow of your own headlamp. The trees creak as the wind pushes them back and forth. A sliver of the moon provides little light. You can see other runner’s headlamps on the trail in front and behind you, but no one is within a half mile of you, maybe even a mile. Aspens and scrub oak have creeped in to the edges of the trail. You round a corner and the trail narrows to single track. There’s a rustle in the surrounding bushes. You stop. You listen. You look around. But all is quiet again. You keep running down the trail.

Sometimes, it can be a little unnerving running in the night out in the middle of nowhere when there is no one around to help you if something does happen.  You can be in the same situation as above in the light and you’d probably never even think twice about the rustle in the forest. Okay maybe a few of you would. The darkness makes us more vulnerable. We don’t like to be vulnerable.

If you’re an ultrarunner, you have to get over your fear of running in the dark. You can’t stop at every sound in the bushes. You can’t walk because it’s more difficult to see what’s down the trail. Be cautious, but check your fear at the starting line. It certainly won’t help you get to the finish any faster and it will slow you down.

As an ultrarunner you are always balancing the risks such as when you descend a steep rock slope, climb along a narrow ridge, or cross a fast flowing river. Running alone and running in the dark are two more points of balance.

Getting comfortable out on the trail alone during the day is the first step to combating this nighttime fear. Many people run in groups or at least with one other person. There are good reasons for running with another person. You may fall and get hurt. You are less likely to be attacked by an animal (or a person, which is more likely).

Maybe some of you have a pact with another runner or two that you won’t leave one another, even during a race. If you don’t have such a pact, you’re going to end up alone out on the trail at some point during a race. Most races allow you to have a pacer after fifty or so miles. This usually corresponds to the nighttime hours, but not always. It depends upon your pace.

Headlamps are a double-edged sword. You definitely need one to see what is in front of you on the trail. You don’t want to be tripping over rocks and roots and you don’t want to step into a puddle of water or mud if you can help it. The problem with headlamps is it narrows your field of vision too. It makes you night blind and can cause tunnel vision.

Running with a flashlight or with your headlamp lower on your body, such as around your waist, helps with both of these issues but it doesn’t stop it from happening. Even though you can’t see as far ahead, keep you eyes moving back and forth. It helps prevent the tunnel vision.

Once you’re comfortable running alone on the trail during the day, get comfortable at night. Run early in the morning and later in the evening. If you can, plan an overnight run because 12 am to 3 am feels different than 4 am to 6 am.