Safe Running 2: How to Not Get Dead (Or Maimed by Dogs/Machetes)

This morning, I successfully completed my longest run ever–6 KM!!  (or 3.87 miles, according to Nike+ and its disregard for my dual measurement thang).

It went surprisingly well.  The first two miles were a piece of cake, despite my legs feeling like lead for the first five minutes or so (maybe I need a new playlist?), and by the time mile 3 hit I was beaming at the fact that I was feeling great and not ready to die at the prospect of going that ittybittylitttlebit further than usual.

So there I was, cruising along and waiting for Miz Nike+ to tell me I when I had 1 km left.  At the end of mile 3, girlfriend pipes up with “Halfway point! Three miles to go.”  Sheesh, I set it wrong, I know, but I do wish it would understand that I want to know my pace in minutes per mile, but the length of my run in kilometers.  I appreciate its idiosyncracies regarding albums and playlists and expect the same of her.  Maybe it’s because she remains unnamed…

But whatever.   I kept running and pressing the stats button every minute to do some mental math and see how much longer I had to go, probably setting myself up for a jammed menu button in the future.  In fact, I was so distracted by the mental math and the extra, short neighborhood loop that I didn’t have a chance to focus on how my non-usual socks today went from smooth to sandpaper-chafey the second I passed mile 3.1.

But on I went, and I finished, and I might have screamed and yelled and jumped up and down at the end of my street when it was over.  I gave myself a good three minutes to walk my heart rate back down to normal–plus five more of walking on top of that when the garbage truck (which I’d passed and smelled thrice already) started its slow drag down my street.  Safety dictates that you don’t want to be seen going into your house by these guys, who may say hello nicely but who watch EVERYTHING, so I just walked up and down the street until they were gone and tried not to panic at how this truck/safety ridiculousness was about to make me late for work.

So, in the spirit of safety concerns and precautions, rightful or ridiculous, I thought I’d give you the rest of my safety measures (if you missed the first installment, catch it here).

Tip: Approach mother hen with caution, stopping traffic to allow her and her chicks to cross--it builds good road safety karma

  1. Slow down if you see a stray dog.  In Trinidad, they tend to be apathetic to people, despite the copious warnings of the average person; however, it’s not worth risking limbs and appendages on the assumption that that dog that is staring you down is too lazy to move his ass and come bite you on yours.  I’ve seen people walk with sticks, and have been chided by neighbors for not doing so; however, I think I’d cause myself more harm running while swinging a big stick than the dog threat merits.  If you do run into a leery dog, do not look it in the eye, and walk away briskly.  “Shoo”, said loudly and forcefully, should send it on its way if it comes any closer. ( I’ve heard that squirting a dog in the face with water also can stop it from attacking; thankfully it’s never been an issue for me, but that’s another reason for keeping a water bottle at hand.)
  2. Carry water until you get used to the distance and route.  You never know if, while observing the deliciously tacky architecture or making a fool of yourself by cawing at a neighborhood parrot, you take a wrong turn and find yourself farther from home than you thought.  93 degree heat is no joke, and until you’re used to it, you want to ensure that you don’t dehydrate.  You can get all fancy with camelbacks and belts or just take any ole bottle and grasp it while you run.  I know that it’s better not to carry extra weight or grip things while you run.  I also know that I would take hand cramp over heatstroke any day of the week.
  3. Make sure someone knows you’re out and about.  Be that friend, family, significant other, even frenemy on occasion, make sure someone knows what time you left, when you expect to be back, and where you will be running.  And please don’t feel weird asking someone to keep track of this for you—no one (except your frenemy, perhaps) would say no to such a small  favor.  I tend to text a friend right before I leave.  If she does not hear from me within an hour, she calls.  If I don’t answer, I know I can trust her to call in the national guard to search for me.
  4. Two chemicals products that are your friends:  bug repellent and sunscreen.  Sporting red dengue spots under sunburn is not cool.  I am guilty of not following this advice as regularly as I should, but I do put the goop on about 90% of the time.  It helps if the sunblock is for sporty types (non-greasy, not running into your eyes) and the repellent does not smell as flammable as we all know it is.  There is a certain product (ok, it’s Avon Skin So Soft lotion) that will do the bug repelling quite nicely for you without being formulated for this.  African shea butter also works (though I’d be hard pressed to slather on the stuff just to sweat it out, given how pricey the real thing is).
  5. Music:  I leave this for last because it’s all been said before.  I know it’s infinitely safer not to wear headphones on your runs, but I just can’t stand to hear myself panting breathing heavily, and I’d be bored to tears without tunes.  Try to keep the volume as low as you can, or run with only one earbud in.  I don’t follow my own advice at times, but I plead the “do as I say, not as I do” defense.

I’m sure I’ve missed some tips, probably obvious ones, but ten is about as much as seems right for a blog post.  What are your safety precautions?


Eating today:

Breakfast:  Oatmeal, eaten at work, from tupperware, as usual (picture it:  banana, coconut, bit of pineapple juice–do you see the nondescript color?  Yep, that’s why there’s no picture of it.)

Lunch:  a most delightful salad, just like yesterday’s (black beans, grapefruit, olive oil, sniff of garlic and mini-pinch of cumin, over lettuce and tomatoes)

Dinner:  Pasta with tomatoes, white beans, tomatoes, and greens:

Wearing today:

A dress that increasingly makes me feel like a birthday present to somebody, but in a good way:

Target. Sale. US $3.74.  Good for rocking a cranberry feel and experimenting with a camera as lipstick.

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