Safety should always be a priority when any type of fitness is involved. Woodside Ortho-Kinetics Trainer and Run Club Captain, Ryan Hulse, shares his tips for safe running this summer.
When it comes to running safety, there are many factors to consider, including weather, time of day, location, nutrition, current fitness level, injury prevention and apparel. It’s important to properly prepare yourself to achieve the best possible workout results. Plan accordingly by following these running safety tips:
Summer Running Safety Tip #1: Know Where You are (Physically) and Warm Up!
Being fully aware of your current outdoor fitness abilities is a good place to start. Running too fast, too soon will be a disaster. Be sure to do some type of dynamic warm up before pounding the pavement; your muscles will thank you. Muscles perform better when they have a constant flow of blood and oxygen. A proper warm up not only tells your body it’s about to do work, but also aids in injury prevention. Injury prevention may also be obtained through proper strength training. Having the proper frontside and backside running mechanics will take you a long way. A conversation with a Woodside trainer can help you assess your body’s unique biomechanics, and where you might be at risk for injury, regardless of your fitness level.
Summer Running Safety Tip #2: Check the Weather and Plan Ahead
Depending on your level of fitness, you may want to choose an appropriate time of day for your outdoor training. The weather plays into this because running in the heat is no joke. If it’s blazing hot saddles outside and you’re not used to the heat, you are better off with a morning run when it’s cooler outside. If you’re a night time runner, no worries; keep an eye on the forecast and wait until the sun sets and night time temps move in. Remember to carry water and wear light-weight, moisture-wicking clothing.
Summer Running Safety Tip #3: Hydrate
Again: Be prepared to carry water with you, or build in water stops along your route. Sweating is your body’s way of cooling itself. Without proper hydration, this makes it very difficult for your body to remain cool and not overheat. Dehydration can not only effect running performance, but can also be very unhealthy or even dangerous. According to Health Studio KC’s, Dr. Heybrock, even small amounts of dehydration have been shown to increase plaque production, and chronically increase stress on the heart and the vessels, leading to increased cardiovascular risk.
Check out the following articles that are full of great water carriers for runners:
- The 8 Best Water Bottles and Carriers to Buy in 2018 for Running
- 7 Great Ways to Carry Water While You Run
Summer Running Safety Tip #4: Dress Accordingly
If you’re a before-the-sun-rises or after-the-sun-sets runner, be sure to wear some type of reflective clothing or light so you can be seen. For extra visibility, check out these running lights:
Proper athletic clothing that wicks moisture will aid in your comfort. Wicking fabric pulls moisture from the body to the exterior of the shirt where it can evaporate more easily. Stay away from mostly cotton blends as cotton holds on to moisture more so than synthetic materials.
Summer Running Safety Tip #5: Proper Nutrition is Key
The better you set your body up for success in the nutrition department, the less it will have to work. Glycogen is your body’s preferred fuel source, which comes from carbohydrates and is stored in your muscles and liver. Having proper amounts of glycogen dictates your ability to continue running.
For longer distances, say, over an hour, you’d be best served to bring some type of fuel with you to continue replenishing your glycogen stores. Without that replenishment, you will deplete your stores and your ability to continue will be reduced or even halted. If you’ve ever heard of someone “hitting the wall”, that means they’ve depleted their glycogen stores because of poor nutrition. I experienced this during my first marathon at mile 19…and it wasn’t pretty! You certainly wouldn’t want to bonk out during a run, especially if you’re in unfamiliar territory.
Summer Running Safety Tip #6: Stay Alert
Running in familiar areas is always soothing because it puts you in your comfort zone, so to speak. If you’re travelling you may not know where to go or what parts are safe. Being aware of your surroundings is pertinent to your safety. I almost always run against traffic and I don’t wear headphones. I want to see what’s coming towards me and able to hear what’s going on around me. Listening to the birds’ chirp, the wind howl, the water babble, the frogs croak, the vehicles whir, etc., gives my sensory organs time to shine and stay sharp. Outdoor training is my go-to because it sets my sensory organs on fire and I feel more alive!
There are loads of things to pay attention to whether you’re running on a sidewalk, a paved trail, near traffic, or a dirt trail…just be mindful of your surroundings at all times to stay sharp. If you must wear headphones because music fuels your fire, so be it. Either wear headphones that allow you to hear your surroundings or just utilize one earpiece so your other ear is unobstructed.
Before you hit the road, track or trail this summer, do yourself a favor and plan accordingly. Running doesn’t have to be complicated, but it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Proper planning will result in a better run, better workout, proper safety and a better experience. Get out there and pound some pavement. When the tough gets going, just remember: left foot, right foot, one in front of the other. Repeat!
Run Club Captain
Woodside Personal Trainer