Preparation and Vigilance

Up early, with a twisted ankle.

I was up early this morning. I mean, really early. It was supposed to be 5am, but it sort of turned into 5:45am. Still, I was out the door a little after 6am. Everything seemed to be going just fine.

It was dark, so I wore my reflective harness. I highly recommend those things. You may think they’re a little goofy, but people can’t laugh unless they can see you. And if people can see you, then you’re a lot safer. Besides, there’s a little zipper pocket in the front where you can put your house key. (It also has a little hole in the top of the pocket in case you have an iPod in there.) And lastly, just to round out my silliness, I wore my tights, hat and gloves. Yes, that’s right. I wore tights. If you’re from the south, that sounds funny. If you’ve ever run up north, it sounds smart. It was 27 degrees out there.

The point is that I was prepared. I was doing all the right things, and I was making a good start for the day. Even so, I forgot that Preparation has a partner where running is concerned: Vigilance.

I didn’t pay enough attention to the terrain. about 1.8 miles into my route, I was crossing the street and I didn’t quite get my foot onto the curb. I had been watching for cars, people, and other random things, but I forgot about the ground.

I don’t know the statistics, but I can tell you that the terrain itself is more likely to hurt you before sunrise than somebody in a car. You can hear cars coming, and you can see their headlights. There are also far fewer cars on the road before sunrise than at any other time of day. However, the terrain is always there. The bumps, the curbs, the cracks in the sidewalk… all of them are still in your path no matter when you run.

It’s easy to take them for granted when you’re a day-runner. You think you know the area, so you won’t trip up. But it’s dark, remember? If it’s dark enough to warrant a reflective harness, then it’s dark enough to miss a detail and crash into the ground.

I tried to just walk off the injury, but I twisted my right ankle pretty good. I couldn’t run for more than a few seconds without an increase in pain. I had to turn around and go home, switching often between walking, jogging and limping. Luckily, I was almost normal by the time I got home. I should be fine for tomorrow.

It’s a reminder, however. It’s important to prepare for a run, but it’s also important to be vigilant during the run. Warm clothes and safety gear are wasted if you’re sitting at home with an injury.