When the Weather Gets Tough… Keep Running

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Although my family didn’t lose power during the rough weeks before, during, or following Hurricane Sandy, my town had its fair share of damage and in general, disorder. Some families were without power for weeks, while others had their homes fall victim to uprooted trees and more substantial damage.

The Pascack Valley Train line that I take to commute into the city everyday was suspended indefinitely, and even the bus lines were down for a few days. Luckily, I was able to telecommute and work from home—but after a few days of that, I got very, very stir crazy.

The Hurricane presented me, and I’m sure many other runners, with a predicament. While I longed to go out and run (especially after an entire day cooped up inside, working from my bedroom), every time I did, I found myself keeping away from dangling power lines, avoiding fallen trees and basically taking a tour of the damaged areas throughout my town. I made sure to pay extra attention as to not find myself falling victim to one of these added elements, but I felt guilty for being able to breeze past a home that had turned into a construction site overnight.

As runners know, not much can keep a runner from running. Not illness, not injury, and definitely not the weather. And so I ran, and figured out various routes down streets with minimal damage.

Even though it’s been two weeks since the initial storm, there are still various elements adding an obstacle course component into my normal routes—and I’m sure many other runners with towns affected by Sandy are facing the same problems! Plus, the daylight hours are getting fewer and fewer, making the roads an even more dangerous place.

So I’ve compiled a list of safety tips every runner can use during these dark (literally) times.

And not only CAN you use them—you should!

Wear reflective gear and/or bright clothing: It doesn’t matter what time a day or night you’re running—make sure you shine, reflect, glow…whatever! Luckily, my saucony shoes are a bright, almost-ugly shade of blinding yellow, while my Nike+ GPS sports watch matches. But I still try to wear a bright, or white, top to complement them.

Get a dog tag: Last year for Christmas, my uncle gave me the one thing I wear every single day: My RoadID. Though some may compare it to a name plate on a dog collar, it has my name, address and parent’s cell phone numbers. That way, if something is to ever happen during a run, my parents can come to the rescue quicker than it takes me to remember what went wrong.

Completely avoid power lines, fallen trees, etc: You might think it’s okay to juke a displaced power line (like a Tough Mudder Race) or climb over a fallen tree, fashioning your very own obstacle race right in the middle of your town. But, both of those things are bad ideas. If a tree is blocking your path, find a new one. You’ll give a new road a chance to get noticed, and maybe add to your already-established routes.

Go around leaves, not through them: There could be anything in there. From dog shit, to dead animals, to fallen power lines. Just go around them, promise?

Use the sidewalk: Sure, it can be bumpy, but right now, with trees taking up our running and biking lanes, it’s your best and safest bet. And having said that—be careful with those cracks!

Run towards traffic: Sometimes, I get confused about the traffic rule. Are we supposed to run with it, or against it? However, I’ve found that in a heavy traffic area, it’s best to run against it. That way, you can see any cars coming your way—rather than be surprised by them later.

Steer clear of utility and construction vehicles: Chances are, there are still a bunch of them out during the weekends cleaning up Mother Nature’s mess. Don’t make their job even harder by having to get out of your way, or try to dodge past and surprise them. Either make sure they see you and move on your way, or, like the fallen tree rule, find a different route.

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