by Logan Wood

With COVID-19 rates spiking, Americans face another period of lockdown and seclusion from loved ones, jobs, school, etc. According to the CDC, this seclusion not only negatively affects mental health but also physical health. Despite Jaimie Ducharme’s assertion in Time magazine that exercise is one of the most effective ways to improve physical and mental health, a recent study conducted by Cambridge Open Engage found that Americans are exercising less than usual during the pandemic and sitting and looking at screens more. The health of Americans is as important now as ever. Whether you are an American looking to become more active or one that wants to stay active, here are 12 safety tips for running:

  1. Run with a friend (or a pet). While running with a friend may seem tricky amid social distancing requirements, The CDC insists being outdoors is less risky than being indoors, so try to run outside while maintaining the recommended 6 feet apart.
  2. Be aware of surroundings. The Road Runners Club of America (RCRA) states in their “General Running Safety Tips” that awareness makes runners less vulnerable. To maximize awareness, think about the five senses. For instance, the RCRA suggests that runners do not wear headphones while running because hearing is a key sense that helps avoid dangers that eyes may miss. If listening to a podcast or music is a must, Under Armour suggests to only wear one earbud.
  3. Look both ways before crossing. Always look both ways before crossing any intersection where vehicles are traveling. Just like any pedestrian, runners are at an increased risk of injury.
  4. Carry Some Form of ID. If you cannot carry your ID while running, another tip from the RCRA is to write identifying information on the inside sole of your running shoe. If a medical emergency arises, a passerby must be able to contact a loved one. With today’s technology, most, if not all, smartphones are equipped with an In Case of Emergency app that allows first responders to access critical medical information without unlocking the phone. Kim Hayes asserts the importance of ensuring this capability is active on one’s cell phone while running in her article “Keep Medical Information on Your Smartphone”, especially if you are unable or do not wish to carry your ID while running.
  5. Do not run with your phone or other valuables in sight. While running with a cell phone is recommended for safety, be sure to run with it stashed away in your pocket or a running belt. Try to leave other valuables, such as a wedding ring, at a more secure location like your home.
  6. Wear reflective material or bright-colored clothing if you must run before dawn or after dark. As we enter the winter months, it may not be easy to run during the daylight, but that doesn’t mean to giving up on exercise. Wear reflective material or bright-colored clothing and stay in well-lit populated areas if running outdoors or move your run indoors.
  7. Face oncoming traffic while running and follow traffic laws. The RCRA stresses that it is essential to be aware of vehicles approaching from the front instead of the back because that will increase reaction time should the need arise.
  8. Be aware of inclement weather. With winter approaching, be mindful of snow, ice and freezing winds. The frigid temperatures in some parts of the country lead to dangerous conditions on roads and other running paths. Keep these in mind when planning for a run.
  9. Take a key with you when you run. Do not leave the house unlocked while out for a run.
  10. Carry a noisemaker. A noisemaker, such as a whistle, will help draw attention to a dangerous situation. But Lauren Hargrave insists in her article, “6 Running Safety Tips”, not to stop there; get trained in self-defense and carry runner’s mace.
  11. Avoid running in secluded areas. The RCRA also suggests running in open areas clear of parked cars or bushes.
  12. Trust your intuition about a person, or an area. The final running tip from the RCRA is to trust your instincts. If you are getting a bad feeling about a person you are about to run by or an area on your running route, listen to that feeling and avoid them.

“Our running shoes have magic in them. The power to transform a bad day into a good day; frustration into speed; self-doubt into confidence; chocolate cake into muscle.” – Mina Samuels

Use this next phase of the global pandemic to run that chocolate cake into muscle. Happy running!