10 Running Safety Tips from an Ex-Soldier

by Danny Kaine, CEO of NOMAD SOS

Everyone assumes that all soldiers are runners. Not true. I’m an ex-soldier and since leaving the Army I have retained my fitness levels, but I have never been a runner. Put a pack on my back and I will hike up and down mountains until someone tells me to stop. When I do go for a run, I really have to work at it. I find myself listening to music, and thinking about literally anything other than the fact I am running.

November is National Running Safety Month and in my experience, a majority of accidents happen through a momentary lack of judgement, usually caused by being distracted, or fatigue, or a combination of both. I speak from experience, not only from close calls I have had while running, but also as the CEO of NOMAD SOS, an assistance company who has responded to several accidents and fatalities involving runners.

Take these precautions to protect yourself, no matter what activity you are doing outside, especially if you are walking, hiking, cycling or running alone.

1) Tell Someone

If you live with someone, tell them where you are going and when you plan to be home. If you plan on being in a remote location and you are parking a vehicle, leave a note inside, including the latest time you expect to return.

2) Have a Plan

It’s pointless telling someone when you plan to be home, IF you haven’t discussed a plan of what to do when you don’t return home. This could be as simple as, if you don’t return home by a certain time, someone calls you. If there is no answer, wait 5-minutes then call again. If there is still no answer, they come and look for you.

3) Get Tracked

I am advocate of GPS trackers. I personally carry SPOT with me at all times and I am yet to travel somewhere that it hasn’t worked. Features include a live tracker that someone can log into and follow your trail. It also includes an SOS feature in-case you get injured or lost, and you can send pre-generated messages such as “I arrived safely.”

4) Carry ID

If worst case scenario happens, and you are injured, unconscious or confused carrying photo ID will help first responders determine who you are. Go one step further and carry Emergency ID that includes your photo, name, pre-existing medical conditions, allergies, medications and emergency contacts.

5) Utility Belt

So now you have a cell phone, GPS, ID Card and car keys, but how do you carry it all? I use a SPIbelt. They are compact, comfortable to wear, and they carry everything I need. They also have some reflective options.

6) Be Seen

You may have heard the expression, ‘pretend you are invisible’ when you run. This is good advice. Don’t assume that drivers and cyclists can see you, especially during dawn and dusk hours. Wear high visibility and reflective clothing. Some runners even wear flashing LED lights that they attach to their belts.

7) Face Traffic

If you run at the side of the road, run toward oncoming traffic. It allows drivers to see you, but more importantly it allows you to see what is happening ahead, especially on wet and icy roads, if a vehicle loses control.

8) Unplug Your Headphones

It would be hypocritical of me to tell you to completely unplug. When I run, I have to run with music, but I listen to it at a reasonable volume where I can still hear what’s going on around me, and if I need to cross the road, I take out my headphones until I have safely crossed.

9) Remain Alert

If you are anything like me, when you run, you will think about anything other than how tired you are. Sometimes this can affect our judgment of hazards around us. Remain alert. The more we are aware of what’s going on around us, the less vulnerable we are.

10) Get Training

I am a qualified medic, but sometimes if I walk/hike/cycle/run with other people, I can’t help but think that it’s great for them, but not so great for me if I am injured and need first-aid or CPR. Go and take a basic first-aid course, you never know when it may save someone’s life. Also, on the subject of training, consider taking some self-defense classes.