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Training for a marathon is an incredible way to improve your heart health and tone your muscles. Even if you’re in poor shape, running a few times a week is a safe, effective way to protect your health, as long as you take the proper safety measures.
So why is running so good for your health, and what can you do to ensure you stay safe?
Running is easily one of the best exercises to promote your overall health and longevity. It burns fat, builds muscles and strengthens your bones. It also increases your cardiovascular health and can reduce your risk for stroke, heart attack and even cancer.
The physical benefits are just the beginning. Sustained running releases endorphins and dopamine, which act as natural pain killers and stress relievers. The hormone boosts improve your sleep and help you combat anxiety and depression and help you control your appetite.
The best part? You can run with virtually no equipment, wherever you happen to be.
Running is a high-impact exercise that can put a lot of stress on your body. Overtraining can result in shin splints and stress fractures. Poor form and tight muscles can cause wear and tear on your joints. Beyond that, there are other hazards to prepare for while running.
1. Drink Up
Fighting dehydration is essential to keep you safe for your workouts. Because marathons are all about going the distance, you’ll need to start drinking water well before you hit the ground running. That means being mindful of your water in the days leading up to the marathon as well.
You can overdo it, though. Hydration is meant to balance the levels of fluid and salts in your body, and drinking too much without replenishing your electrolytes is dangerous. It can cause nausea, confusion, and headaches, and it can be life-threatening. While you are on the trail, take regular sips of fluid, even if you’re not feeling thirsty, but don’t gulp it down.
2. Stretch it Out
After heavy use, your muscles tighten, which can shorten your range of motion and reduce blood flow. Stretching will help your muscles relax, reduce soreness after a workout and help you prevent injuries.
Dynamic stretches are controlled movements that release tension. They are better before your workout because they prepare your body to move. Static stretches are poses that you hold in a stabilized position. They should be done after your workout, and you’ll need to hold the pose for at least 30-45 seconds to signal your muscles to relax.
3. Prepare for the Weather
The hotter it is, the more stress there is on your body. You’ll sweat more and become dehydrated faster, and your heart will work a lot harder. Running in hot temperatures increases your risk of heat stroke, which can be fatal.
The safest thing is to acclimate your body to running in the heat slowly and avoid running during the hottest parts of the day while you train. Choose light, breathable clothing and always wear sunscreen.
Cold weather is safe to run in for healthy people as long as they are dressed properly. However, colder air is often dry, and it can cause stress on your lungs. A mask can help keep the air your breath warmer and keep your lungs from getting too dry. If the temperature drops below freezing, you should keep your training sessions shorter until you’ve had time to adjust.
4. Stay Visible
Ideally, on-coming traffic will see you in plenty of time to avoid you. You can improve your visibility by wearing bright, reflective clothing, and avoiding poorly lit areas if you are in the dark.
LED armbands are an easy, hands-free way to light the area around you and ensure that you stay visible to drivers. Keep it on so you can see the trail better or set it to flash for improved visibility.
5. Stay Alert
Keeping your head high is important for your running form, but it will also ensure you can see hazards and adjust your course. If you’re listening to music, make sure it’s not too loud to block out the sounds of traffic or barking dogs.
When you're running at night or early in the morning, you should be aware of any people nearby. It’s best to stick to populated areas during the daytime or run with a friend. If your routine requires you to run alone, you should come prepared to protect yourself in case of an attack.
Pepper spray is an effective defense tool because it doesn’t rely on pain to stop an attacker. It can incapacitate an attacker in an instant by causing temporary blindness and restricting their breathing. The SABRE Mighty Discreet Pepper Spray is 40% smaller than traditional key ring sprays, yet is still effective at up to 12 feet. The easy-to-use twist top safety prevents accidental discharge, so you can safely store it on your keys, in a small bag or in your running pants.
For protection at a greater range, you can use pepper gel. The gel eliminates possible blowback and makes it more precise. The hand strap allows you to keep it at the ready at all times. There are also you can use to holster your pepper gel.
6. Enroll in Self-Defense
No one wants to let fear get in the way of their work out. A safety training course can instill confidence in threatening situations and prepare you to respond appropriately. A self-defense course will prepare you by giving you the tools you need to get out of dangerous situations and help you feel safe for your training.
Staying safe during marathon training is all about preparation, and SABRE can help. We are the only pepper spray manufacturer that controls and guarantees formula strength in our products. Our exclusive HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography) Guarantee means our pepper sprays never fail due to inconsistent heat levels.