Not only do we have to contend with cold weather and rain, but the darkness that makes winter running so brutal. For most of us it’s dark when we leave the house to go to work and dark when we get home from work, so when do we squeeze our runs in?
Unless you’re able to run during the day, then unfortunately you’ll have to run dark, so here’s how to stay safe whilst you pound the pavement over the next few months.
- Tell someone where you’re going – make sure you’ve let someone know that you’re heading out for a run, the distance, time and route so that they know where you’ll be. You could also turn on the tracking device on your phone so that someone could track you or use BSafe an app that can act as a siren, allows you to send an SOS to friends, leave a GPS trail or set a timer that will alert friends that you’re not OK if you don’t check in at a certain time (which sounds like a disaster if, like me, you always spend longer on your runs than you expect!)
- Run a familiar route, the last thing you want to do is get lost. If possible, try to run where there are street lights and people around (although the last thing you want to be doing is running down
- Ensure that you have ID on you- you can buy these brilliant runner ID wrist bands (a great Christmas gift for any runners you know). Also make sure to set an ICE – incase of emergency on your phone.
- Set up your medical ID on your phone. Open the Apple Health app and tap on the Medical ID in the bottom right hand corner, Create Medical ID. At the very top, make sure ‘Show When Locked’ is turned on. Fill in your relevant information. If you don’t have any allergies then write ‘None’ rather than leaving them blank! Make sure you have at least one person registered as your emergency contact and save.
- Be seen. Although I’m having a bit of a thing for black fitness gear at the moment, it’s important that cyclists, cars and other runners can see you. I was recently sent a whole range of reflective gear and running lights from Nathan Sports which we tested at our Be:Fit London run. The most popular items were the small clippable strobe lights, heel lightspur and the reflective water bottle. Thanks Nathan Sport for Firing Up Our Run! Never assume that a car has seen you, be extra vigilant and careful even if you’re kitted out in full reflective gear.
- Which brings me nicely on to the next point – safety in numbers. Join a running club or grab a group of friends and run together. We run from the Telegraph building on Tuesday evenings at 6pm.
- Careful with your headphones and make sure your music isn’t so loud that you can’t hear anything else. It might be worth running without them at all, or keeping one ear free to ensure you can hear traffic, cyclists, pedestrians etc.
- Run towards the traffic to increase the chances of them seeing you when crossing the road, or if there isn’t a pavement. Now is not the time for jay walking/running!
- Don’t run the same exact route and the same time every single day. Unfortunately this might make you a target (or your house if they see you go out at the same time). Mix it up with some morning/evening runs on different routes.
How do you make sure that you stay safe when you run through winter? I end up running more with groups and doing weekend runs during the day. I’ve also been known to drag Tom out with the head torch when I wanted to run along the river but was far too scared to go alone!