November is Running Safety Month and in the November issue of Competitor I list a few ways for all of us to stay safe on the roads and trails. After a safety breech last weekend, which resulted in me eating sidewalk, I thought it timely to offer a few more tips for staying safe while running.
Run a familiar loop (or take directions): On Saturday morning, after getting convinced that it was warm enough for me to run outside instead of on the treadmill, two of my friends and I headed out for a run. We were in an unfamiliar area since we were out of town for a wedding, so we looked up an 8.5-mile loop and took the precaution to write down the directions so we wouldn’t get lost. After diligently following the first direction to turn right just 1.4 miles into the run I ate it and supermanned onto the sidewalk. A little crack in the sidewalk poked up just enough for my toe to catch it and I went down hard. My two friends were in front of me and both turned around because they heard my knee hit the pavement. We didn’t end up needing the remainder of those directions, but at least we didn’t get lost.
Be in close proximity to police stations, hospitals and most importantly, fire stations: Just as I was flying across the pavement on Saturday a firefighter was driving past us. He climbed out and walked across the street just as a mother ran over to offer baby wipes and see if I was OK. Thankfully there was very little blood from the fall. I used the wipes to dust off dirt (and my pride) and sat there fighting tears (unsuccessfully) as the firefighter asked which hurt more: my knee or my pride. “Definitely my pride,” I responded.
After making sure nothing was broken, the firefighter pointed across the street to the fire station and convinced me to head over and get checked out.
“There are a lot of good looking firemen over there that would gladly like to help you out,” he said.
I politely declined his generous and completely humiliating offer until I realized my knee was swelling up and hurting really bad. There was no way I was running the rest of our loop and, worse yet, had ripped a hole in my friend’s Lululemon running capris. An icepack wouldn’t hurt.
All four of us walked up the drive (I hobbled) to find at least 20 firemen and at least 20 more high school kids waiting for us outside the station. I don’t think I’ve ever been more humiliated in my life. Well, that was short-lived, as one of the firemen came over and asked me to sit on a stretcher in an ambulance so he could check out my injuries. I had fallen and hurt my knee! There was no concussion, I didn’t break any bones! I really didn’t think all of this was necessary, but at this point I thought I’d get in trouble if I tried to high-tail it out of there. Plus, with my knee hurting so much I wasn’t getting anywhere fast.
Nonetheless, he was a very nice fireman. I did the safe thing, got checked out and iced my knee immediately, which helped the swelling and made it so I could dance at the wedding that night.
Bring a cell phone: Carrying a cell phone, especially when running in an unfamiliar place, is very important; when running with others, however, it isn’t a necessary item unless you fall in front of a fire station, there are tons of firemen and you need to get “checked out” on a stretcher in an ambulance. Kodak moment if there ever was one and we missed it. Lesson learned: always carry your cell phone.
Wear proper clothing: If you’re running in the dark it’s important to wear reflective clothing. If you’re running in the heat, it is important to wear breathable clothing and sunscreen. If you’re prone to falling, however, don’t wear your friend’s $90 running capris.
Run with buddies: This is the most important safety tip for runners, so I will reiterate it here. After getting my icepack, one of my friends headed back to the hotel to get the car while my other friend sat with me and waited. If I had been alone this would have been a much scarier situation. I can only imagine me laid out on the sidewalk, crying and alone. It was really nice to have my friends there with me, give me a ride and now laugh about that time I fell running in a city called Fallbrook. I knew I should have just stuck to the treadmill.