By Polly Keary, Editor
For saving on money and time, few exercises can beat running.
All you have to do is walk out your door to get started, and there’s no gym membership or expensive equipment to buy.
But running gets a lot more challenging as days grow shorter.
Here’s how to keep running in the Sky Valley even when the sun keeps shorter hours than you do.
Run in groups
Jeff Rasmussen of Monroe started running about two years ago, and last weekend completed his first marathon.
He occasionally runs on a treadmill at the YMCA in the winter, but most of his training takes place outdoors, and he goes on his longer runs with a group.
It certainly gets a little more dangerous in the darker months, he noted.
“There have been several occasions that we have been nearly hit by a car or run off the road because the driver was not paying attention,” he said. “If you do run before or after sunrise or sunset, it’s best to run with a group.”
Find long, well-lit streets.
Rasmussen and other local runners willing to run when the sun isn’t up often run the wide sidewalks under the streetlights along Blueberry Lane.
“I don’t think Blueberry is scary because I’ve lived on an adjoining street for the last five years,” wrote Kimberly Vos on Facebook. “I’m not sure people realize that, because of the amount of people living in such a small area and it’s so close to the police department, it’s patrolled quite well.”
Another popular spot is along Fryelands Boulevard near Lake Tye.
“It is well lit and people keep an eye out for one another,” wrote Kathyrend Bernardino Ciarcia.
Rasmussen likes both those spots, but when he’s running with his group, he goes all over, he said.
“Lake Tye and the Fryelands are a nice option for shorter runs, but it can get a little boring,” he said.
“The group that I run with usually incorporates most of the city in our runs; up Tester Road to the high school, or along Main Street and Chain Lake, for example.
“If you run when it is dark out, wear a reflective vest or flashing lights so you’re seen by traffic,” said Jenny Hadfield, a coach who writes for Active.com. “Run with identification or a runner’s I.D. in your shoe or pocket, just in case.”
Take your dog
If you don’t feel safe running alone in the evening or early morning, multi-task and take a pet.
Know how to defend yourself
The odds of being attacked while on an urban run are slight, but they do exist, local fitness expert Blair Dreessen said.
“If you are going to be running later in the day, especially in the evenings, I believe that you should think about carrying mace or maybe even doing a self-protection course,” she said. “Heck, I believe women these days should do this anyway to know how to protect themselves.”
Have your phone on you
There are more dangers on the streets than just people. Injury is always possible for a runner, and the odds of it go up on wet, slick or snowy roads.
“Carrying your phone with you on runs is smart, as well letting someone know when you are going running and that you will text them once you get home if you live alone,” Dreessen added.
And don’t be overconfident
Most of the time, a runner will be safe in Monroe. But it’s when people ignore their gut feelings that they run into trouble, Dreessen said.
“I think that’s what trips women up, is that they are thinking, ‘oh, this place is probably safe,’ so they let their guard down, versus realizing that any spot could become unsafe at any time,” she said. “Take precautions where ever you are.”