Does Fear Make You Faster?

My jaw almost hit the floor when I looked at my training schedule for this morning – 8 miles. On a Tuesday!? That meant my alarm went off at 5AM. I didn’t make it out the door until 10 to 6, so I had to cut my run down to 7 miles. I chowed down on PB banana toast and coffee before heading out with a bottle filled with 3/4 water and 1/4 G2 Gatorade.

I was pretty nervous when I headed out because it was dark, dark, dark! It was beautiful, but terrifying. It was so clear and I could see the stars perfectly, and the moon looked amazing, too.

I thought the fear would make me run faster, but it actually slowed me down.  I carried a mini flashlight with me, but I was constantly looking over my shoulder for animals and bad guys. I think personal safety is about awareness and being conscious of your surroundings. Almost immediately after taking off, I pulled my headphone out of my ears – loud music does not lend itself to optimal awareness.

The second half of my run I was able to pick up the pace because the bike path was more populated and the sun was starting to come up. I finished the 7 miles in 68 minutes and was proud of myself for tackling a longish run during the week.

Beyond awareness, there are some other things you can do to keep yourself safe when running early in the morning or late at night.  When training for a marathon, especially in the Fall or Winter, running in the dark is pretty much inevitable.

Be Visible
If you’re running in the early morning or at night, even at dusk, wear white, yellow, or orange clothes. Also, make sure you have reflective gear on. And a headlamp is a good idea, too. I am thinking of getting a reflective vest, self defense spray, and a head lamp.  I want the extra peace of mind. Being scared while running is no fun!

Always Have Identification on You.

Vary Your Routes and Times
Potential attackers can study runners’ routines and loom in a particularly dark or isolated area. Don’t make yourself an easy target.

Run With a Buddy
There’s strength and safety in numbers. If possible, try to never run alone. If you’re running alone, let someone know the route you’re running and approximately how long you will be out. I always tell Aaron where I am headed and when I plan to be back, whether it is the middle of the day or the middle of the night.

Carry a Cell Phone
You’ll be able to contact police immediately if something happens to you or you notice anything out of the ordinary.

Watch Out for Bikes and Runners
Even if you’re running on a path or in a park with no cars, always be aware of other runners and cyclists. Before you stop or turn around, make sure your path is clear. This advice applies to running in both daylight and darkness.

Follow Your Instincts
If you feel that you’re entering an unsafe situation, trust your gut and run to a safe location.

Ditch Your Music
Cutting off your sense of hearing leaves you at a disadvantage. You can’t hear oncoming cars, cyclists yelling to move, dogs, or any other potential threat.

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