Being more visible

Being more visible

One of the best ways to de-stress is through exercise. More so if you are outdoors. My wife runs and I walk at speed. Life can impact your overall well being especially in these strangely dystopian times. So it’s good to get out and enjoy the benefits.

Unfortunately, one can not always run or walk at ideal times due to work pressure so one tends to go early in the morning or late in the afternoon. This often means that you will be exercising in the dark. There are two things that matter. Firstly one has to be careful of hidden obstacles to avoid injury and secondly you need to ensure that you are visible to motorists. A friend had a narrow escape when running and was almost hit by a car that jumped a stop street. When he admonished the motorist he was simply told “I never saw you”.Admittedly he was running in darker clothing and had run later than he normally did. So what can one do to be more visible?

In winter we have shorter days and in summer we often have to contend with overcast, darker conditions.

To help put a “visibility” kit together I looked at the stuff that my wife and I use. Light clothing and fluorescent colours are important as well as lighting and reflection. If we know we will be exercising in the dark then all of the gear is used. And it does not have to be pricey.

A reflective vest is important, these are available at most good sports stores but cheaper versions can be obtained at hardware stores. In winter one can also run with a long-sleeved fluorescent top.

We both use headlamps as they help you scan terrain and also make you more visible. I have a preference for the Petzl brand and use the bright mode. Some runners and walkers use the strobe mode but I find that does not allow you to scan ahead of you. To the rear we attach a red strobe light that stays on nonstop, this can be attached to your shorts, shorts, headlamp or hydration pack if you are exercising in hot weather and need water. Lights and reflective gear make you more identifiable as a person in motion. It’s all about putting reflectivity in body movement zones. A driver must be able to recognise you as a person exercising. Look for gear that has reflective detail around the waist (shorts), chest (vest), hands (gloves) and even your shoes. I stick reflective tape on the rear of my walking shoes which gets replaced after cleaning them. Every bit of light and reflection keeps you from being a statistic. Consider when you run and look to your weather apps to see when the sun rises and sets. Certain photographic apps also give you the times of the so-called “golden hour” and sunrise/sunset. In low light conditions, you may only need a fluorescent top or vest, whilst in dark conditions more light is important. These all help cyclists and motorists recognise movement. And keep you safe. It’s also important to consider body temperature when running. A long sleeve top will hinder you in summer as your temperature rises. Removing it will make you less visible and tying it around your waist will hinder movement. It’s thus worthwhile investing in a long sleeve top as well as a reflective vest.

Remember in urban conditions with changing light it is difficult for a drivers eye to be accustomed to total darkness. Late evening a driver may be tired after a long day which affects reaction time. They could also be distracted chatting on a cellphone.

With this in mind skip busy roads if you can and stay on the pavement. If you have to run on the road, run facing the oncoming traffic. This makes it easier to take evasive action if you see a car coming. Lastly, tell someone where you are going or better still run or walk with a friend. Stay safe, be visible and enjoy the exercise.

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