Safety First, Running Second

I had in mind a whole different topic to write about in this installment of the Sweat Gazette, but a recent event has unexpectedly turned my head in a different direction. And so, as we sometimes do on our runs, I change course…..

I was driving along Route 208 heading toward the village of Washingtonville on a recent Sunday, and up ahead of me I saw a runner. It was a woman on the right shoulder, but the problem was, she was running with her back to me. As we all know, this means that she was running on the WRONG SIDE of the road. This always invokes an emotion in me that I'm sure many of you understand. So anyway, as I got closer to her, I could see that she was pushing a baby jogger, and on a road where the shoulders are especially narrow (those who are familiar with Route 208 will know this), this was even worse! But we're not done, for you see, there's a kicker, an even greater carelessness in this story that defines the word: as our car passed the runner, my son observed that she was wearing earphones!!!

So let's recap:

Folks, we can talk all we want about training, how to get faster, how to stave off injury, what to do to prepare for your first 5K, or marathon, and so on. But it all means nothing if we've had our legs mangled or our head caved in in a terrible (and avoidable ) accident on the road.

Or forgetting about our own welfare for a moment, if we have family (and most of us do), we owe it to ourselves and to the ones we love to practice safe running above all else. Because if we don't run safely, there might well come a day when we don't run at all….

I can't say that this was a wake-up call, as I'm already well aware of all the things we need to do to be safe while we run. But I saw this as a message from the Universe being delivered to me so that I could deliver it to all of you.

So just a reminder to everyone about how to run safely, especially as we move now into the dark days and ice covered roads of the Winter months:

Dress so as to be visible to drivers.

At night that means reflective clothing. By day, bright wear colors that contrast with your environment. No whites on a snow covered road.

Be aware of your environment.

Run facing traffic so that you can see and react to drivers as necessary. They may not be paying proper attention, or might lose control of the vehicle on an ice patch, leaving you a dead duck if you can't see them. Also, lose the ear buds so that you can hear traffic.

Run on low-trafficked roads.

Stick to the country roads and side streets. The fewer cars you encounter on your run, the less likely you'll come across someone who might be inclined to use you for “target practice.”

OK, so with that little bit of reality behind us, let's talk about what the road ahead looks like here in the Orange Runners Club. It's already November, and I can't believe how quickly it has arrived. Only yesterday it seems we were suffering from the warm temperatures and persistent rains of the summer of 2009. How many times did you all run in the rain? Maybe that can be a topic for a future Relay Your Running column.

Anyway, as this newsletter reaches you, the Jingle Jog 7K will be upon us. I encourage you all to come out and join the fun that this event routinely brings to all of its participants. And as we round the corner into a new calendar year, we'll have the ORC Winter Series directly in our front windshield, and we can begin looking ahead to another great year of running in Orange County and beyond.

Please be safe out on those roads everyone, and by all means, keep running….


Todd Jennings
ORC President