We are on the road to NY! It’s raining and the traffic is stop and go, but at least the cats are behaving in the back and we have a good audio book to listen to. OrangeTheory Fitness completely wiped me out yesterday, but it was a ton of fun and I think we will be back next year :) We grabbed dinner at Kanpai in Rosslyn and caught up with Christina. This udon really hit the spot after the butt-kicking I got in OTF.
The rest of this post is dedicated to tips on running in the dark, which has become a more frequent occurrence for me with the shrinking daylight. Anyone else?
Running Safely in the Dark
I’ve never been a cautious person. For some inexplicable reason, I have this assurance that I could easily counter an attacker, stop a home invasion, or wrestle a bear to the ground (probably dodge bullets too, if I’ve had my morning caffeine). If I heard someone at the door in the middle of the night, I probably wouldn’t think to wake Mike – I’d just go straight for the golf club and post myself at the door. You know, despite the fact that I’m barely 5 feet and weigh a buck and change. As a result, for the past few years, I’ve laced up my running shoes at 6 AM, 5 AM, and occasionally even earlier without thought or fear for safety.
My early morning runs really aren’t a problem in the summertime – there are so many runners training for fall races and looking to beat the heat that I’m never alone on the trails. But in the wintertime, that number drops as many runners get their workout done indoors or do their run later in the day when it’s both warmer and lighter out.
I’ve been pretty devil-may-care about my safety in the past, but all my time watching SVU and Criminal Minds must have finally affected me, because when I went out for my 9 mile run at 5 AM a few weeks ago, I realized that my normal route would take me into an un-lit park away from the road, where assaults against runners had occurred only last year. The warning light came on in my head (yes, it looks much like the “check engine” light on your dashboard).
You know that moment in a suspenseful movie, where the protagonists decide to split up to search the dark house and you’re screaming, “DON’T SPLIT UP, YOU IDIOTS – ONE OF YOU WILL GET KILLED!”? Well, in the same vein, I decided to avoid the dark, isolated park probably full of creepers and alter my running route to stay close to the roads that morning instead. [Image source]
Since then, I’ve taken a few steps to put safety first during my o’dark-thirty morning runs:
– Stick to well-lit paths and sidewalks along streets with cars (but if you spot a dark van idling by the side, avoid being kidnapped if at all possible. This would be a good time for some speedwork.)
– Use the treadmill for shorter weekday runs
– If running outside with no one around, no music or headphones – it’s good mental training to run without music every once in a while anyway
– on weekends, text Mike that I’m running and when to expect me back (just discovered this app with a similar function)
– go out later in the day when possible
– wear a reflective vest (this one is for the cars)
There’s a lot more I could be doing, of course; I should probably run with my phone (I’ll do this on very long runs where I take my hydration pack, but it doesn’t fit in my small waist pack), I could carry mace or a foghorn (AKA Lucille’s rape-horn, fellow Arrested Development lovers), I could always run with a buddy or a group. But for where I run, I think I’m taking enough reasonable precaution.
What safety precautions do you take when running alone when it’s dark outside?