Training Week in Review
Monday: Yoga/Extended Stretching
Tuesday: Steady 10K
Wednesday: Steady 10K
Thursday: Steady 10K
Nothing new to report in my training, still some pretty cold temperatures!
Winter running adds different challenges and dangers to your run.
I enjoyed running the three different 10K routes in training this week. It allowed me to hit 3 different areas in my community, rather than sticking a little closer to home. When I run outside, I am very much aware of my surroundings. I have habits that I do automatically because I’ve been doing them for so long now. However, I cannot predict how someone else is going to behave on any given run so it’s important that I stay intentional about my safety and be proactive about being seen!
Perfectly groomed conditions
Perfectly groom conditions are rare, usually you can find them in and around schools. School paths need to be cleared to allow walking students to get to class! Unfortunately, these groomed paths do not occur often and are usually only 0.5-0.75 km’s. So unless you want to run back and forth (and I do not) then you will be dealing with cars on your run. (however, could be a great spot for speed work 😉 )
We have two motorcycles, three licensed riders and passengers within my family. I got my bike license before my car license. The way they teach you to drive a motorcycle is all about defensive driving. It was the best course I could have taken to learn to ride and ultimately to drive as I’ve adopted most of my learning into my everyday driving. I am a defensive driver. I am also very much aware of the dangers that are out there for riders. A lot of accidents occur because drivers are not paying attention at all. I cannot tell you how many times someone texting, eating, or who knows what has come close to hitting someone on a bike (I know there are some riders who simply ride dangerously, but that is not what this is about).
The same is true of running. We need to be defensive runners, like our lives depend on it, because they do.
Make eye contact
On Tuesday’s run I was running down a main street (on the sidewalk), I had the walk sign to continue but slowed to ensure that the driver turning off the busy street to the side street saw me. I cautiously began to cross, ensuring we had eye contact, however he was not focused on me at all and instead was focused on the fact that there were no oncoming cars coming so proceeded very fast to make his turn. The shock on his face when he saw me was very evident. He almost hit me. Thankfully, I was watching him and was able to stop running and allow him to pass. It had nothing to do with the fact I was running, I could have been a parent with a stroller and he still would not have seen me. He simply wasn’t paying attention, so we need to.
The direction of your run
Now what about facing traffic while you run? The reality is that the sidewalks are often not cleared in the winter especially if you are an early morning runner. This means that you will likely be sharing the road on a good portion of your run. For myself, I choose to face traffic. I wear bright colour clothing (I rarely run when it’s dark but I still like to be noticed), I run with one earbud in and the music is not loud. If there is a bus or truck approaching I often jump onto the side walk while they pass or will slip into a driveway, just to be safe.
Running with blindspots
If you live in an area where snow is part of your winter running then you are likely dealing with high snow banks at times. This makes visibility difficult for you and for the driver who is taking a tight turn onto the same street you are running on. As much as facing traffic is good, if I am approaching the end of a street I will often cross over to the right hand side of the road.
Another area of concern when out running is running on side streets, where there are often no sidewalks. I want that extra distance between cars turning onto the same street I’m on.
Intersections with Yield signs
Just because you have the right away does not mean a vehicle is going to notice you and stop. So many drivers today are in a rush or driving distracted. I will slow way down checking to see if there are any cars coming. If there are cars, I stop and make eye contact with someone before crossing an intersection. I ALWAYS wave and say thank you. OR if traffic is clear for them to go I often motion for them to go first. Hoping to share a message that as runners we do not think we own the road, but instead recognize we are sharing it.
Be careful with slipping
I run with my regular shoes. Most days this is not a concern for me. I’ve tried Gortex runners and Yaktrax, both work great in different conditions. I still prefer to run just with my shoes. So I take corners carefully to ensure that I do not slip. I also do a lot of shoulder checks. When I cross over side streets I always glance back over my shoulder to make sure there are no cars turning. I can count a few times where I’ve had to stop abruptly because a car somehow didn’t see me???
I carry an old drivers license on me for identity and my address in case of emergency. (I keep meaning to get a road i.d. but in the meantime I have something with me.)
I know it seems like a lot of things to think about, but like I said at the beginning, most of this stuff is just how I run. I do not think about it as much as I just do it.
This is just a few thoughts that came to mind during a run 🙂 Do you have other winter running safety tips that you incorporate into your runs?