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How to Stay Safe When Running Trails

by Jacob Riff |

Trail running is one of the most engaging ways to run. Uneven surfaces can help reduce boredom by keeping your mind focused on the trails, and studies on spending time in nature show the many benefits you can get from being under trees instead of gym lights.

Unfortunately, running in the wild can also mean run-ins with wildlife. Although most animals prefer to avoid human beings, they will defend their cubs and chase off those they perceive as threatening. In a recent viral video, a trail runner filmed 6 heart stopping minutes as a cougar ran him off of her cubs.

While we're unlikely to have a cougar chasing us for miles, it's a good idea to be prepared for anything while out on the trails. Here are a few ways to keep safe, and some recommendations for how to calm down after a frightening experience.

Make Noise

Most animals prefer to avoid humans, but they can't do that if they are surprised. By wearing a bell or other noise maker as you run, you can make them aware of your presence before you have run around a bend straight into their path.

You can also make it safer by running with another person. If you're chatting or simply pounding the dirt beside each other, your combined noise will help scare off predators—and make them more likely to leave you alone. This is also a good idea in case you get hurt and need someone to rescue you.

Carry an Emergency Kit

Most of us aren't wild about carrying anything on the trails. Water bottles can hit you repeatedly in the side, and even our keys and cell phone can be annoying if it moves around. Luckily, minimalist emergency kits have been popularized in the form of a bracelet. These bracelets contain a compass, whistle, a fire starter, paracord, and knife all in one tiny package.

If you end up lost or hurt, these emergency tools can help you survive until help arrives.

Tell Someone Where You're Going

If you get hurt and are unable to call for help, you're going to want someone to do that for you. Let someone know you're going for a run, where you're going, and when you hope to be back. That way if it is hours later and they haven't heard from you, they know to call for a rescue.

This is especially the case if you're running alone, but also useful if you are running with someone else.

Had a Scary experience? Here's How to Calm Down.

Did you run around the bend and almost step on a snake? Did you come nose to nose with a bear and are shaken, but unhurt? Did you narrowly miss sliding off the edge of a cliff? Scary things can happen, and they can give your stress levels a real jolt.

Calming down after a stressful event can be almost as difficult as dealing with it in the moment. If you've had a rough day on the trails, consider winding down with lavender, chamomile, or melatonin to help with your recovery.

We can't change a frightening experience, but we can take steps to make sure it doesn't happen again, and take care of our bodies that work so hard even during stressful experiences.

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