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I’m an avid runner and in the midst of training for my second marathon. On a trip to Madison, WI a couple of weeks ago, I was out on an 18-mile run, enjoying the beautiful weather when, suddenly I felt a severe pain shoot across my shin (I later learned that I had torn the muscle from shin). While this was hardly an enjoyable experience in and of itself, the worst part was that I was running alone in an unfamiliar area and was 7 miles from my car. To make matters worse, I had no cell phone and no money to use a pay-phone (though I’m not sure many places even have these anymore). Thus, I ended up having to finish the run limping, further injuring my leg.

While I can whine about the fact that I may not be able to compete in my marathon, the larger take-away from this story is a lesson I learned in running safety. I think back on it now and am thankful that I was able (no matter how painful and ugly it was) to get back to my car. The simple fact is that if I had taken a few extra precautions, I wouldn’t have needed to limp back to the car.

I began doing a little research and based on this, and my own experience running, here are a few safety tips that I think any runner, or any pedestrian for that matter, may find helpful:

  • Carry identification. You can carry a driver’s license or any form of ID in a pouch or you can invest in a shoe tag or wrist band. I personally wear a RoadID tag.
  • Carry a cell phone or cash. If you opt for cash, I would recommend bringing some quarters, in addition to a few dollars in case you need to call a cab.
  • Wear bright clothing. If running at night, wear reflective gear and consider a headlamp (most running and sporting goods store carry cheap, light-weight models).
  • Avoid Headphones. If you absolutely refuse to run without music, then turn the music down as far as possible.
  • Run with others. If you do run alone, consider carrying pepper spray.
  • Plan your route ahead of time. If you do run alone, you should inform someone of your planned route and approximate return time.
  • Be vigilant. Whether you are running on roads or bike paths, never assume that drivers, cyclists, or other pedestrians see you. According to the law in Minnesota (and most other states),if you are running on roads, always run AGAINST traffic (i.e. so vehicles are driving towards you) – Minn. Stat. § 169.21, Subd. 5.

It seems that spring has finally come to Minnesota, so get out and enjoy the weather…safely!

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