Sunday, December 23, 2012

Safely Running Solo

I mentioned a safety related post some time ago.  It's not exactly an exciting post to do, so thus the delay, but I thought I'd get it done.

So first I'll tell you everything I carry with me, on every run that I'm out on a dirt trail, or when I am alone. Here's the list -
-phone (try to make sure it's fully charged)
-pepper spray
-ID and the like (license, medical directive, medical insurance card, 2 debit cards)
-food (one bar, 2 packs of GU chomps)
-water (one 20 oz hand held bottle)
-wipes (not much I care to say about that, but have 2 individual packets for whatever I may need them for)
-watch (a non gps Timex, it just tells time and has a timer)
-ID bracelet (has my name and inspirational quote of my choice on the front, " you'll pass out before you die, keep pushing!", from Jillian Micheals, and on the back says "if you find me lying on the side of the trail, call Brian at....and then has his 2 #'s)

From a runners perspective, safety aside, that's a lot to be carrying with you while running! I think back to our first 26.2 and I only carried a camera, and that was more than what most people had.

I made the best purchase of my running life last year in preparation for Diablo 50k. This -
It holds all that loot perfectly, and I usually stow my jacket in the back pocket about half way through every run. The little upper pocket on the front with the flap, that holds my whistle and mini flashlight. Bottom 2 bigger pockets hold most everything else. Food and wipes go in the back pocket.

Of course, non of that stuff has the capability of preventing something bad from happening.  It just doesn't. It's nice to have it all just in case, but the reality is, it's not preventative stuff, it's after the fact stuff.  If something happens and I'm lying off the trail in a bush somewhere, I can blow the whistle, eat my food, signal at night with a flash light, make a phone call, take pictures of my injuries...but I can't completely prevent it from happening.

So what other precautions do I take? I always tell Brian where I'm going. I usually also text the Beast a picture of where I am (more for accountability than safety, so she knows I'm getting a run in). I never run the same route twice. I actually never run the same route twice in one week, I get bored easily and like to keep things mixed up. I text Brian pictures as I am running so he knows where I am, or where I was last. I do not run with music (in the woods, no music, on paved trail such as the Iron Horse, one ear phone). While I am most relaxed while running alone on the Mt, I am very aware of noises and sounds. Birds, squirrels, deer, turkeys, water, all has it's own sound and when there's something besides one of those things, it stands out. I can hear a mt bike long before I see it, hear other runners feet long before I see may sound crazy, but if you are out there long enough and often enough, you know what I mean.  I have about 15 - 20 different routes I take, they are all mapped out and logged on my computer.  Brian knows which route I'm taking since I text him when I head out.   I also text him when I'm done. Should I ever go missing, it would be pretty easy to pull up the map and know where to look. While I have done 2 pretty dangerous, dicey descents out of Castle Rock alone, I do not make it a habit. I stay on well known, mapped trails that are not dangerous.
 As for animals, I am no expert here by any means. I have done a fair amount of research on prints - what's what, how fresh/old they are - knowing fresh scat from old, what to do when encountering which animal. This is a whole post on it's own - what to do if they are with babies, or alone, what to do depending on their stance and how close/far they are.

I'm boring myself think that's about it. I feel like I do take a reasonable amount of precautions, have educated myself, and carry with me as much as I possibly can without turning from a runner into a backpack carrying hiker. 

I cannot stress enough how much I love my time alone out on the trails. It's well documented here on the blog that I love running and hiking with my family, but my mid week runs alone on the MT are my favorite. I love everything about it, the challenge, sights, smells, sounds, feel of the air.....
While I take precautions, as I mentioned last week, we are never really safe in anything we are doing.  I refuse to be scared in any of my daily activities, but especially when it comes to my precious miles alone on the MT and trails. Those miles are mine, my time to relax, recharge, and challenge myself.


Does anybody out there have any recommendations??
What am I not carrying that I should be??
What additional precautions should I take??
What do you carry when running solo??


  1. Wow - this is really impressive! It's easy to be confident and tell yourself nothing serious will ever go wrong - it hasn't so far - and to take some chances. I've learned that precautions are worth the trouble, and I love that you take all these precautions.

    That bracelet made me laugh out loud though!