You only have to walk down the street in Ireland these days to see just how popular running has become. It’s a fact that Frank Greally, editor of Irish Runner, is aware of.
“There’s definitely been a big increase in the popularity of running here in recent years. You could call it something of a movement,” he says. “I think the TV programme Operation Transformation has helped, and generally there’s more awareness about health and fitness. As a result, people are running all over the country – and it’s great!”
This time of year however makes running more difficult. It’s cold and dark outside and there are all kind of winter-related problems you could encounter. So, what can you do to stay safe when you’re running in the winter?
1. Wrap up
It’s important to wear warm clothes while running in the winter months because of the low temperatures. The right running shoes are important too. “Make sure your shoes have grips and good traction,” says Frank. “Think about the terrain you will be covering. For example, if you’re going to be on a slippery surface with the possibility of black ice, it’s essential that your shoes are suitable.”
2. Be visible at all times
It may sound obvious, but often people don’t consider the necessity of being visible and in these cold dark months it is more important than ever. “Wear something reflective like a Hi Vis jacket,” says Frank. “Anything that will make you visible to a car or to other runners.”
3. Be aware of your environment
“More and more, I notice that people have their heads down reading their mobile phones whilst walking on the street and as result are often unaware of their environment,” comments Frank. “That’s why it’s essential to keep your wits about you and especially in a town or city environment where there are lots of people and distractions.”
4. Leave the ear-phones at home
Franks suggest running without the use of ear-phones. “You are more aware of what’s happening and more in tune with your environment without the distraction of music,” he says. “I would advise leaving the ear-phones at home at this time of year. It will sharpen your wits and make you less likely to be involved in an accident.”
5. Run at the right time of the day
Obviously certain times of day are going to be more problematic for runners than others – and rush hour especially in cities or built up areas is one such time. “You need to be very watchful whilst running at rush hour,” says Frank. “Keep an eye not just on cars but also on pedestrians – and make sure you don’t drift into the cycling lane,” he adds. Early mornings too, are another dangerous time often because people are not as alert. Have a cup of coffee or make sure you are fully awake before you leave the house.
6. Enjoy your run
Running should be an enjoyable experience at any time of year – and that includes the winter. “Concentrate on your breathing and keep your eyes open,” says Frank. “But make sure to enjoy the experience. We spend so much time indoors in the winter months so it’s important to take everything in when we’re outdoors and just enjoy the present moment.”
With Irish Life Health’s new BeneFit Plan, you can claim €50 back on sports clubs, like Athletics Ireland who host running clubs around the country for people of all abilities and ages. Find out more here: https://www.irishlifehealth.ie/health-insurance-plans/benefit