Running Safely - Best of the Northwest Best of the Northwest

Running Safely

Running is one of the best and most versatile forms of exercise. When you’re planning your run, mother nature isn’t always as accommodating as you’d like. That shouldn’t deter you from going out though. With these tips you’ll be better acclimated the next time there’s bad weather.

Running Safely

In the Heat

1. Look at the heat index:

Before heading out, it’s always a good rule of thumb (especially when it’s really hot out) to check the heat index. The heat index will tell you what the temperature feels like, combining air temperature and relative humidity. For example, If the air temperature is 87 degrees and the relative humidity if 74%, it’s going to feel like its 100 degrees out. Try to plan your run when the humidity is below 40%, that should feel most comfortable for runners.  Check temperature forecast for the elevation you will be running at.

Running in the morning or evening are good times to find more comfortable running temps.

2. Pace yourself:

This is obvious, but make sure to not overexert yourself when you’re running in the heat. It takes energy to cool yourself.  Get a feel for different temperatures to find your perfect pace at different distances in different types of terrain.  Build fitness, muscular connective tissue strength with miles and mental notes on each experience.

3. Stay hydrated:

Drink at least 8 to 16 ounces of water before your run. During your run, don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink, that means your body is losing fluids.  A dehydrated body will perform much poorer than a cool and charged one.  Don’t bonk,  bring a water bottle, camel-back and/or filtration system.  Test electrolyte drinks that combine carbohydrates in your water. Dehydration occurs when the body loses too much fluid. Check urine color for dehydration. Keep a filled jug of water in the car for emergencies and a cool shower for your return.

In the Rain

1. Make sure you stand out: 

The best way to stay visible on your run is to wear bright and fluorescent colors.
The rain decreases visibility and if you’re running on the road, the more you stand out, the more likely drivers will be able to see you.  On the trails, bright color make for better photos.

2. Wear quality footwear:

If you see that the weather is crappy outside, you may be tempted to wear your old, beaten down shoes. Don’t. You’re more likely to get shin splints, knee pain and other injuries if you do so. Wear the shoes you feel most comfortable with.  There are GORETEX® options from many trail running shoe companies.  Wear synthetic instead of cotton socks.  This goes for clothing as well.  Keep a dry set of clothes in your car.

3. Watch where you are going:

You should always be alert and pay attention when you’re out on your run, but take extra caution when it’s raining out. The road will be more slippy than usual and make sure to avoid broken pavement and puddles. Wearing a ball cap can keep rain out of the eyes and clearer vision of the path ahead.  Wear reflective clothing or running vest if on the roads to make sure others can see you too.


In the Cold

1. Wear layers:

The key to dressing for running in the cold is by wearing layers. In the winter, bring layers that accommodate 15 to 20 degrees warmer than it actually is.   Start cold.
Increased exertion will reduce the amount of insulation you will need during activity.  A form-fitting set of thermal underwear or tights are often the most crucial pieces of cold weather running gear. That will lower your risk of overheating and excessive sweating. Keep insulation layers handy for when you slow down or take a break as your body temperature will lower when exertion decreases.

2. Try traction cleats for your shoes:

They will give you more grip when you’re running in the snow and ice and you’ll be less likely to slip and hurt yourself.  Yak Tracks or Hillsound Trail Crampons slip on over shoes for hard pack snow and icy conditions.

3. Be aware of hypothermia:

Hypothermia occurs when our body looses heat faster than it can generate it.  If you start shivering, your body is using muscle movement in attempt to rewarm itself, you run the risk of getting hypothermia.  If possible get out of the elements, put on dry and warm layers, receive external heat from another person or heat source.

The more experience and miles you put in the more you will be able to anticipate conditions.  Be safe and build confidence running trails year round. It’s always better to error on the side of caution.  You should always make sure that you are as safe as possible and when mother nature does strike, you’ll be better prepared to enjoy being out any time of year.

This article was provided by , an organization dedicated to providing the public with information about personal injury and safety information. Edited by Best of the NW.  Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice, and it is intended for informational use only. Be sure to review your local ordinances to ensure you run safe and legally.


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