Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Running in the Dark: A Cautionary Tale

In the tips for running in the dark I recently provided, I suggested that, for me, the purpose of the head lamp is less to light your way and more to alert oncoming cars, bicyclists and pedestrians that you are coming. Given this philosophy, I make sure my nighttime runs occur on well-lit roads with which I am very familiar. I know where to find the cracks in the sideways, the hidden driveways and the high curbs. (I’d say “sudden turns,” but I also avoid those on nighttime runs, for obvious reasons.) 

This has served me well in my years in suburbia. I’ve probably finished more than 100 runs in the dark without incident. (Sure, I’ve run through my fair share of puddles, but, really, what’s the fun in avoiding puddles?)

My streak ended on Monday. 

Now, don’t freak out. I’m fine. ‘Tis but a scratch. 

The point is this: I have no idea why I fell. I’m pretty sure I just lost my balance -- I actually made it two steps before I hit the ground, which I’m sure looked hilarious -- but it was after 6 p.m. and my headlamp was pointed straight ahead, not at the ground. 

This happened on an out-and-back route I’ve done dozens of times. It’s great for running at night; there’s only one turn and one street crossing, the turnaround is in a parking lot, and I’m always on a sidewalk with a curb and a shoulder. And I still fell.

I’m sharing this story not because I want sympathy -- had I really been hurt, I wouldn’t have snapped a picture -- but because it serves as a cautionary tale. No matter how well you prepare yourself for a run, accidents happen. Take them in stride, brush (or rinse) yourself off, count your blessings and move on.

Oh, and be careful the next time you approach that mystical spot that, for no apparent reason, made you fall.