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Fall safety tips for runners

As the days get shorter and temperatures begin to drop, follow this advice to enjoy the season safely

As the fall approaches, the days are getting shorter and the mornings and evenings are beginning to cool off. This means Canadians will be spending more of their time running in the dark, sometimes dealing with chilly winds and slippery conditions. For this reason, runners should take a few extra safety precautions to ensure they can enjoy everything fall running has to offer.

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Dealing with the darkness

If you’re running in the early morning or later in the evening, you’ll definitely either be starting or ending your run in the dark. Make sure you’re wearing reflective gear so drivers can see you, and if you’re running in areas where there is poor lighting, you may want to consider wearing a light headlamp to illuminate your path.

A recent study on cyclists found that mental fatigue in the later stages of a ride caused cyclists to do less thorough checks and have slower reactions when they were presented with a busy intersection, and it’s not a significant stretch to assume runners have similar issues. If you’re running in the evening when the end of your runs will be in the dark, make sure you’re staying alert when navigating busy streets, and never assume a driver has seen you. You’re better off waiting on the sidewalk for a few extra seconds than ending up on the hood of someone’s car.

Preparing for the weather

The fall can present all kinds of different weather patterns. It can be cool and rainy in the morning, warm and sunny in the afternoon, and as you near the end of the season, you may even see some snow in the forecast. Fallen leaves followed by rain or snow can create some precarious footing, so if you’re going out on a wet day, be sure to wear shoes with a good amount of tread (trail shoes work well, even on the roads) and if you’re running in the dark, use that headlamp so you can see where your feet are landing.

Dressing for the fall can sometimes be tricky with the large fluctuations in temperature from morning to night, so dress in light layers that you can easily remove if you get too warm. If you don’t have one already, now is a great time to invest in a waterproof running jacket as well so you can stay warm and dry, even on the wettest fall days.

Other safety tips for fall

If you’re uncomfortable running alone in the dark, now is a great time to join a local running group. Having some running friends will help motivate you to get out there when the urge to hibernate starts to creep in, and you’ll be more visible in the dark if you’re with a larger group of people.

If group running really isn’t your thing, it may be worth trying to adjust your schedule so you’re running when there’s more daylight (morning runners tend to see at least a bit of sun, and a lunchtime run is a great way to split up your day). Regardless, if you’re running by yourself you may want to bring your phone with you so you can call for help if you need it.

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With its bright colors and crisp, cool air, fall is a great season for running. Like with any season, as long as you plan for the conditions and take the necessary precautions, you can enjoy it safely.