Thursday, November 24, 2016

Safety Tips for Runners - Running Safety Month

November is Runners' Safety Month and hopefully this piece will help some of you be a little more safe out there on your runs. To help raise awareness about staying safe, below are some great tips to remember while running outdoors.

There are so many different forms of technology that can help us out on a run or during our outdoor training sessions. Regardless of if the millions and millions of runners worldwide are training for a race, or just simply trying to stay fit, running technology can do everything from tracking our stats, to keeping us safe.

A majority of incidents with runners happen when they’re running by themselves or running in an area without a decent amount of people around. It’s a great idea to run in areas with other runners or even running with a partner if possible. Having other people around isn’t always easy when trail running or training in areas that aren’t well-populated, so in these instances, it’s especially important to have a running partner.

If you’re unable to run with a partner, it’s a good idea to let friends or family know where you’re planning to be and when to expect you to return. This way, if anything happens along the trail, there are people who know your whereabouts and when to call for help. Sport watches with GPS functionality like this one from Suunto also have route guidance and 'track back' and 'find back' features in case you’re unfamiliar with your training route, or if you get turned around and lose your way. Also, night runs should require weather proof and reflective clothing, like this high vis jacket from ThermaTech or even headlamps like these to make yourself visible and keep your sight lines clear

Strava Beacon may be a life saver!
Bringing the right items along for the run, can make a huge difference in keeping you prepared and safe. In the event of an emergency, it’s always good practice to bring a phone with you as well so that you have some way of getting in contact with help. Be sure to leave the GPS feature on, or use applications like Road ID to track your route or current location. This application leaves virtual breadcrumbs of where you’ve been and even has a 'Stationary Alert' feature that sends out an alert if it notices you haven’t moved in more than a pre-determined set amount of time, say 5 minutes.

There are many great bits of kit to help you carry your phone, and I particularly like these two Inov-8 running belts - the Race Elite for when I just want to carry my phone and the All Terrain 3 waist pack that can carry a few other things too. Both have reflective labelling and just like all the Inov-8 packs and vests the All Terrain waist pack also contains an emergency whistle.

If you're a user of the popular Strava App, their 'Beacon' feature is well worth exploring. Beacon shares your location via a text message that contains a simple URL. Any athlete with an iPhone, Android or compatible Garmin device can use it, and any safety contact with a mobile phone and an internet connection can watch your back. Loved ones can quickly tell the difference between “running a little late” and “stuck on the side of the road,” and you can go for big adventures with the confidence that someone out there knows where you are.

Keeping your mind focused on the run and clear of any and all distractions is a great way to stay alert and safe. Applications and pieces of technology that can help you do this, can give you the peace of mind that you don’t need to worry about potential dangers either on the trail or back at home.

Lastly, one of the last things you want to worry about while on the trail is what’s going on back at home. Fortunately, so many security systems have applications we can take along with us that notify of any emergencies. This wireless one here from SimpliSafe not only promotes connectivity because of its wireless capability, but it has a free app that allows you to arm and disarm the system with ease. It constantly monitors a variety of things around your home, and it’ll even send along alerts should any emergency arise.

For Running Safety Month, do yourself a favour and take a few easy steps to ensure your safety out on the trails. Whether you choose to run with a partner, or invest in a few pieces of technology, it’ll all be worth it should you find yourself in an emergency.

Smart, strong and above all SAFE running all :-)

ADDITIONAL TIP: From my Assistant Coach at UP Coaching, Graham Hand:

"Another good to hide where you live on running apps. Most allow you to set a privacy zone around your house. In Strava under settings/privacy you can Privacy and set an exclusion zone around your house. Criminals have been known to check out Strava as to when you run/ride and also know where good bikes are to be taken or even do break-ins whilst you are out. After all they could potentially get a live view of where you are.

So general rule of thumb, don't add people you don't know or have not met. Happy training, Handy."