My sister told me of a sad and thought provoking story about a runner who was out training on one of the trails we used to train on. It was late afternoon and the sun was low in the sky. The guy was running with an iPod. He stopped to cross a road with runs though the middle of the park. He briefly looked down the road, and then continued to cross the road. He was hit by a car and killed instantly. A tragic event that should make us all think. The runner was very experienced, in fact he was a well known personal trainer, and it was a route he would cover regularly.
What can we learn such that we can keep ourselves safe while running? Obviously with the sun low in the sky the driver of the car may have been dazzled and his vision affected. The runner could have been wearing a reflective vest, which may have helped the car driver see him, but under these conditions I doubt it would have made much difference.
Either way, it is your responsibility to be extra vigilant before you step out onto a road, after all you are the one who will most likely come off second best.
The real lesson we can take is that of running with an iPod. Had he not been wearing one he would most likely have heard the car approaching. Basically he was denying himself one of his key senses when it comes to alerting yourself of danger.
I think this is particularly important for lone runners who train on roads. With so many traffic dangers around you need all the environmental information you can take in. I have never run with an MP3 player for this reason, but also I find that it affects my balance just walking and I have to concentrate to even walk in a straight line. I’ve walked behind others listening to music and noticed this effect as they snake along the pavement!
I know that for many of you running with music is hugely important, and that’s a good thing as we all have our own ways of doing things and making them enjoyable. So for you guys, simply pause the music when you have to cross or run along roads and keep safe.
It is all common sense, and whilst we all think we’re invincible and it won’t happen to me, keep in mind the conditions in which you are running.
Happy Running, and all the best for your 2011 running goals,
“It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you think you can only do a little – do what you can”