I have no doubt that National Running Safety Month was likely created by a running store or brand to bring people into the store and for good mojo with the runners. But that’s ok, because safety is something that runners should be worried about, and not just in November!!
As a runner, (or walker or hiker) safety should always be #1 before anything else. Precautions in advance and using some simple tools can help you be safer and allow you to get your run done knowing you are prepared.
Ran across a good comprehensive safety guide for runners or walker, even hikers will see a few good tips. Lace Up Local has tips for running safely in the dark, safety when you run alone, safety in the rain or inclement weather conditions and safety for women.
Road ID App – You can select up to five people from your phone’s contact list to alert when you go for a run (and the best part is the app is FREE!)
Speaking of Road ID, they sell fantastic little wrist ID’s that you can personalize. You can have you name, phone number, blood type, medical alerts, etc all engraved on a plate on the band that you choose. This is a smart idea, especially if you run, hike, or walk alone. If something happens to you like you get hit by a car or are unconscious for some reason, police and medical personnel can have vital info they need for quick action. Many don’t like to take along bulky wallets and drivers license can easily be lost. But the fun part is that you can personalize them!
I also recommend wearing some type of reflective clothing. There are products out there from inexpensive wrist bands to outrageously (but super cool looking) vest lights. Lit shoelaces are a cute touch, and I like the heal lights they have everywhere for your shoes.
But whatever you buy or don’t buy, whatever safety app you choose, or not, be safe out there!! And yes, any lights on shoes has been scientifically proven to make you a faster runner! Or so I like to believe.
1. Start Small Maybe you’ve never run a day in your life. Or maybe you’ve taken a big hiatus from the pavement for whatever reason. Or injury has kept you sidelined. Regardless, you need to start or start back small. The most exuberant first time mountain climber isn’t gonna go out and tackle Mt. Everest his first climb. It would be foolish but also self deflating. You need to set yourself up for success, strength gaining and endurance building. Heck you don’t even have to “run”. If you don’t feel a run, then walk. Or if your conditioning won’t yet allow running, then walk. Walk as slow as you need to. The point is letting your feet touch the pavement, the trail or the treadmill ( I highly suggest one or both of the first two. Treadmills are great for intervals or really bad weather conditions but being in the open air is just in general better for your health). Commit to a 15 to 20-minute short walks or runs, or intervals (run/walk/run), three times for one week. Sure, you may want to do more, but just stick to short sessions. After three or four weeks of regular training, aim to increase your workload and running mileage.
2. One Goal Goals help you to focus. That eye on the prize mentality. Something that would make you feel inspired or accomplished in your training. Sit down and come up with the ONE goal you want to achieve. Do you want to run a 5K, a 5K in under 30 minutes, or are you trying to get back into marathon running? Choose a race allowing yourself enough time to reach that goal. Be very very realistic. Check and see what the time limit is for the race and then set your training accordingly, but make sure it’s doable!!
3. Find Inspiration That can be from other people who are runners or race walkers. Join a club, or some bigger races even have training groups. Many small running stores have group runs. I’m part of the RWB who gets together not only for races, but training runs, strength training , hill work, yoga and cross-fit. Follow blogs that inspire you and your training. Find an inspirational quote every day that you focus on. Make it your mantra for the day and focus on that when you train.
4. Commit Your intentions out loud to someone or to many You can blog it, tell members of that new group what your training plan encompasses, or tell your family members around the dinner table. There are many forums you can find about running, or Facebook groups. Even Reddit has running threads you can follow and share with. You will also need to hold yourself accountable—long term—for your actions. Don’t just commit once and it’s over, but hold yourself accountable for the long term by providing everyone on your accountability list with regular progress updates every week or so. So far I’ve told my blog readers my intention and also how I’ve been slacking. My hubby knows, as well as knowing details on my training schedule so he can kick me in the butt when needed.
5. Change up your training routine Especially when you feel you’re getting bored or losing excitement in your walk or run. This can especially happen when training for longer and longer distances. So small changes help immensely. It can be changing up your play list, or your running route (which you should do for safety anyway), as well as time of day. If you are a road (pavement) runner, find some smooth trails that aren’t to challenging (where you would need to buy trail shoes for), or accept the challenge. Hey that means you can shop for some new shoes ladies 👠 This is the good time to throw in some treadmill intervals where you can change up the speed and incline. If you google treadmill intervals you will find all kinds of routines to do. Or head outside for the hills, I said hills, not mountains, for some hill work. This will help strengthen your legs.
6. Befriend Runners
As I said above, find some fellow runners or walkers. Check what you are doing minute per mile and then go seek like minded (ability) people. I also belong to group on Facebook called the Running Turtles. They are local in my area but they have everyone from 20 min mile walkers to 6 min mile runners. It could even be your spouse or a friend who has similar goals. But if you do that, just make sure you are positive for one another. You don’t want someone who can easily talk you out of walking or running for the day to go to the donuts shop instead! Also just befriending runners in online groups even if it’s a national group like the RunJunkEes® Run Club is for me. We do have a small local group that meets. But many in RunJunkEes® are online just for the support, tips and motivation they get.
Also small local running stores often hold runs and running workshops. Some are often directed at showing off a new shoes style. But that’s a benefit because sometimes you get to try the shoes too! And besides, you need to get fitted properly if you’re just starting out anyway. Too often people buy running shoes in the size they normally wear in non running shoes, and guess what, most of the time that’s not the right running shoes size you need. Plus there are shoes depending on your pronation (heel goes to the left or right when you come down on it) and you can get shoes to help because that is a discomfort when running.
7. Celebrate your Successes
And try not to do it too much with food if you don’t have a healthy relationship with food. Much better choices are ways to pamper or gear yourself.
Massages are a welcome relief
Manicure and Pedicure will make you feel awesome and usually you get a bit of a foot and calf massage added into it!
A new haircut or color is a great way to celebrate you getting healthier and stronger
New shoes (any new shoes 👟)
New running clothes! I adore INKnBURN as I guess you know by now and for me the fact that these are special limited edition runs makes my self esteem stronger when I run in them. They are special for my training and they help me to not give up!!
8. Starting for the first time
Depending on your skill level and athletic ability there are good training plans out there that are all just a little different and that makes it easier for you to find the right fit. Couch to 5K training plan you can find on the internet and apps for your phone
Get fitted for the proper running shoes
Start with run/walks
Let your body be the boss. Your brain may think “but I’ve only gone 10 minutes, I have to push further”, but if your body is hurting badly, your limping along, or you are fatigued, pushing to hard will damage you for your next outing.
HYDRATION – yes capital letters. You may not feel thirsty at all, but your muscles need that hydration, or they will quit on you. HYDRATE well before your run (give enough time to head to the bathroom before your run).
Plan a safe route. A route you know, where the neighborhood is safe, time of day is safest and where you know the actual layout of the pavement or trail. Yes, walk it out first and know where there is and isn’t sidewalk. And where there is cracked up sidewalk. Where there are badly managed trail areas. It’s great if you can find a school that allows you to use their track, but check with them first so you don’t get arrested for trespassing. This is another area knowing local runners or running stores can help you out.
Take breaks when you need to, you are training your body. Training translates to, your body doesn’t know how to do this yet.
Make sure you’ve eaten a small but healthy meal about an hour before your run. Your body needs fuel. Especially when you are asking it to do more. There are many books on runners nutrition out there, just google.
Be patient with yourself and if you don’t succeed with your planned time or planned miles, don’t stress it. Just lace back up the next training day and go out and get it!
I’m not listing shoes because every foot is different. I have used three different brands since I started. But I was fitted for the brands.
There are other phone apps out there such as Zombie 5K, Map My Walk, Map My Run, Get Running, Runkeeper, Couch to 5K, C25K, Runtastic, and Edumondo. I have used all of these and they all, like most apps have high points and low points. You just have to give them a test run and see what fits your needs best.