Running safety tips

I knew I bled blue long before I knew I was a runner.

As such, by the time I discovered I actually liked running, which didn’t include chasing a soccer ball, I set my sights on BYU’s cross country team. On the road to get there, I made sure to attend the cross-country camp offered during the summer at the university. Nothing seemed more exciting to me than a week of Cannon Center food, dorm rooms and actual contact with BYU runners and the legendary coach Patrick Shane.

What I am basically saying is that, yes, I diligently attended the BYU Cross Country Camp for four straight summers in hopes that Coach Shane would remember my name and eventually offer me a spot on the team.

My regularity as a camper is “nerdiness” in perhaps its truest form. It is nerdy, yet effective.

While at camp, apart from stressing about the first run, which determined our group for the rest of the week, and scoping out any cute boys, I have strong memories of the week always beginning with a review of running safety tips

It feels only natural for me to begin the same way.

If I were Coach Shane, I’d start by addressing the girls in the audience first and saying something like, “Now ladies, every person who smiles at you is not your friend.”

Ah, yes, it feels like I heard these words only yesterday. Wait, it was yesterday, at practice.

But seriously, running safety is a must.

This has become especially apparent to me in recent months, as attacks on runners where I currently live in Provo, have increased. These attacks have taken place in the middle of the afternoon on the trails I frequent the most as a runner. It really puts attention to safety in perspective.

If you’ve spent any time in Provo, you may have noticed runners can be found pounding the pavement at any and all hours of the day. I can’t help but feel frustration toward the girls I pass who are not only running alone, but with headphones plugged in and to top it off, on the Provo River Trail.

C’mon, you’re a walking sign that says, “easy prey.”

Do not run with headphones

I don’t care if you’re listening to a book on CD. I don’t care if it’s the best pump-up mix in the world. I don’t care if only one ear bud is in.

I can’t stress this enough. If you’re on a treadmill, go for it. In fact please listen to something to keep you motivated because staring at the line of jiggling backsides of the stair-steppers ahead of you at the gym is anything but inspiring.

Be alert

While on the road, be alert. Cars, bikers and other pedestrians appreciate your awareness. Not to mention being able to determine if someone is about to grab you. Being in tune with your surroundings is a must.

Run with a friend

Get a running buddy for added protection, and more importantly, added fun. Talking while running passes the time way better than music. I’ve had some of my best conversations ever while running. Then you can brag to your friends that you can talk and run at the same time. It’s a win-win.

Change up routes

Some “crazies” out there may be watching, and if you run the same way at the same time every day, you could be setting yourself up for trouble. Changing your route will keep your running interesting too, So again, it’s a win-win.

Run against on-coming traffic

It’s important to be seen, and in a one-on-one battle with vehicles, the car wins. For goodness sake, get on the sidewalk. Forget what you’ve heard about the road being softer than sidewalk. They’re both pretty hard, and if you really want a softer surface, go run on some grass. Get out of the road, and tell any bikers who are on the sidewalk to get on the road.

Say “hi” to everyone

This is for the purpose of being friendly, but it also lets everyone know you’re not afraid to be vocal, if the need for screaming were to arise. Let’s hope it doesn’t.

Follow your instinct

If you start down a road and it feels wrong, turn around and go somewhere else. Not worth taking your chances.

There are plenty of other tips like wearing reflective materials and carrying pepper spray, but if you run in lighted, public areas, stay alert and follow instincts, you should be pretty safe.

Oh, I hope I’ve made coach proud.

Little did he know I’ve really been listening after all these years and what wonderful, safe years of running they have been.

Although I’ll only be a Cougar for a few more months, I’ll be a true-blue bleeding runner for life.

Cecily Lew is a senior at BYU and is a two-time All-American in cross country and track.

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