It was 8:35pm on a brisk Saturday evening and I decided there was no better a time to tie up the running shoes and hit the roads for some ice skating. I mean, night (ice) running.
If you've never run alone at night, I highly recommend it. Yeah, they say it's not safe because "there are weird people out who hide in shadows" or "there is ice covering the sidewalks that may cause you to slip". Even "someone might follow you home".
Well, my friends, here are a few tips you may find useful to ensure your run is the best run ever:
- Those weird people, they don't stay outside on winter nights. Don't get me wrong, I believe in weird people (thanks to San Francisco), I just don't think weird and insane go hand in hand. Only insane people would stand outside behind trees when it's 15 degrees.
- The sidewalk ice, slush, snowbanks, and salty ice encrusted hidden curbs - well, they suck for all of us. Get over it.
- The busier the road, the more lights they put up. So it seems safer for us night runners. But sadly, with the higher ratio of street lights typically brings a higher ratio of blinding headlights. But on the bright side (no pun intended), shielding my face like a Clydesdale blinder on a Saturday night at 9 pm is not the worst decision given I attracted a lot of unwanted stares as a night runner (in a seagreen fleece jacket that I am not taking the blame for wearing. It was the only outer layer not gray or black that I could find... and it happens to be quite comfortable.)
- Carry your apartment/car keys in your hand and visualize the jab to a jugular that those safety people on college campuses talk about. I don't know how it works, but I've heard them say it may do something damaging.
- Right after you begin to run, evaluate whether having keys in your hand could be more detrimental to your ice running health if you happen to slip and fall on them. After this evaluation, a fist may seem like a better option, and the keys, well, they can be separated and placed in your pocket as to not jingle and alarm any potential weirdos.
- Be aware of your surroundings. This is the most important one to your health. If I hadn't looked behind me and all around every minute or so, I felt my gate quicken. Before I knew it, I was going rocket fast. At the point, not only was I breathing loudly and turning on motion detectors with my breath, I was also doing the sprint on wet ground (coughBarcelonacough) that is not great for the upper left buttock region if you happen to slip and fall on Las Ramblas... I mean...Lake Calhoun. That said, look around every few minutes so you don't end up running too fast.
- Pay attention to random smells and sounds. Car doors, voices of people talking to their dogs on walks, etc. You've quickly stepped into a role of a community protector. (I must credit an article on running that I read a long time ago about this position us runners take on in building a healthy community.) But really, the smells are key. Tonight, while running, I became alarmed with no idea why. My gut feeling was that someone was there sleeping or hiding around me. Why, you ask? I smelled urine and some thick body odor. Hmm. There were 3 foot snow banks on either side of me. "That's impossible!", I though. How impractical was I... seriously... homeless folks have a way of finding nooks and crannies to burrow themselves into (it's quite amazing, actually) but there is no way they'd dig a hole in a snowbank. I guess a person can always move out of San Francisco, but you can't take the San Francisco out of the person...Sidenote: I still have no idea why it wreaked of nasty human excrement.
That's all for my night running speech. Just remember, there's nothing wrong with getting your heart pumping a little - or a lot with the combination of running and nerves for that matter - it cleanses you of the many little bugs that get all stored up. Especially if you know fearful folks who are afraid to live life fully. They fill your head with boring things like sitcoms and co-worker gossip. Instead, find some night running friends to discuss the big slushy puddles, and just listen to your body when it wants to get outside... oh, and NOT to your iPod - that was a tip I forgot to mention- no earbuds or you're just a stupid night runner. I guarantee other night runners like me will hide behind stumps just to prove you're an idiot if you dare put headphones in anytime after 5pm!)
***This has been my first post since December. I will be officially starting up again since I realized that getting back into a work routine doesn't mean life stands still - its just a transition and it feels nice to earn some money and gain more random hosting psychology stories that are coming soon to a blogpost near you :)