So you've decided to become a runner.
You see people posing on Facebook and Instagram looking like they're having such an excellent time with their colorful workout clothes and slick sport belts, and hey, you wouldn't look half-bad with a medal dangling around your neck too! Maybe you've read about the long list of health benefits ranging from weight loss to stress reduction and think running is the positive change you need for a more fulfilling life.
Whether your goal is to add some exercise to your daily routine or complete a full-blown marathon, all runners have to begin with the basics and that includes safety tips!
1. Plan Your Route
A good strategy for new and seasoned runners alike, it may not be a bad idea to have your intended route in mind prior to beginning your run. Nothing kills runner's high faster than realizing you have absolutely no idea how to get back, or discovering that you're completely exhausted and still 27 songs from home. Yikes.
You may also want to consider selecting routes in more populated sections of the community, especially if you're new to running or are unfamiliar with the area. Should a problem arise like a twisted ankle or depleted phone battery, there's plenty of people around who can help.
By planning your routes ahead of time, you also have the advantage of calculating your distance. That gorgeous loop around the lake is 7 miles?! Mayyyybe in a few weeks. Calculating the mileage on your routes lets you start off slow and build up to those long journeys.
You should make yourself aware of any potential risks in your running environment, especially if the environment is new to you. Scorching hot days might mean carrying extra water, or a scenic trail might mean being aware of potential wildlife.
And if you're running on the treadmill before hitting the pavement, you can still be safe making those plans too. Let someone know where you are, even if it's just a text to your friend or a Facebook check-in at the gym.
2. Carry A Cell Phone
You may find yourself toying with leaving your cell phone at home, and while the physical weightlessness of not having it, not to mention the emotional weightlessness of disconnecting from texts, emails and notifications may be as enticing as a cold bottle of water, your phone can be your lifeline. No, you'll probably never need it, but it's better to have and not need, than need and not have.
Having your phone in your shorts pocket can be cumbersome and awkward, so there's plenty of solutions that will allow you to carry your phone without it feeling like a distraction - sports belts, armbands, and performance clothing specifically designed to hold your electronics.
As for those pesky vibrations and notifications that can be detrimental when you're striving to clear your mind, turn your phone off or turn on the "do not disturb" feature.
3. Wear Bright, Reflective Clothing
Not just for those early morning or late night runs! You've probably been behind the wheel before when you've noticed a runner you wish was dressed to be a little more noticeable. Anytime you run outside, you should consider the ways in which you're making yourself visible to others.
While dressing in vibrant colors is important when running against traffic, it's also important when running in nature too. Should you find yourself somehow separated from the path, you'll want your clothing to draw the attention of others.
Many fitness brands keep this safety tip in mind when designing apparel, so it's easy to find clothing, sneakers, headbands, and caps with neon hues, reflective strips, and LED lights so you can't be missed.
Not to mention, where else besides running do you get the opportunity to wear fun colors like hot pink, lime green, and neon blue? Need we say more?
4. Watch For Traffic
Drivers should be watching out for you, but you can make your run safer by being aware of drivers too. That starts with running on the correct side of the road. You want to run against traffic so you can see an oncoming car before it's anywhere near you.
Not only are you sharing the road with automobiles, but you might also be sharing the road with bicycles too. Hopefully, the cyclists you encounter are obeying traffic laws and are moving in the opposite direction, but you should be aware of anyone moving behind you as well.
Be extra cautious as you approach the tops of hills. You won't be able to see what's coming towards you, and what's coming towards you won't be able to see you.
Lastly, don't put yourself in a compromising situation by trying to text your friend or read your Facebook newsfeed while running. Your eyes need to be on the road ahead.
5. Carry Identification
If you're only going to carry one thing on your person, make it your identification. While you'll probably never find yourself in a situation where you need it, it's always good to have it available. Rare medical emergencies can happen, even if you're the picture of perfect health. Join any running group, discussion forum or online chat and you'll connect with someone who can share first-hand the importance of carrying identification.
Not keen on bringing your driver's license on your quick sprint across town? Not a problem. There's plenty of ways for you to relay important identification information to others without you having to pry your card out of your wallet every time you want to get some fresh air and exercise - shoelace tags, wristbands, even apps for your phone!
One last thing - don't skimp on your medical details. This information can save your life!
BONUS: Wear AfterShokz Headphones
AfterShokz open ear headphones are designed with your safety in mind. Because you're able to listen to music while still hearing your surroundings, you can harness the high-energy of your pump-it-up playlist and still be aware of people and traffic around you.
These are only a handful of safety tips that every new runner should follow as they begin their journey in developing into a seasoned runner.