By Nathan Nowak
As multi sport athletes we lead extremely busy lives. Fitting in swim, bike and run workouts in between work and family obligations can be tricky.
While juggling everything we have to do on a daily bases, we tend to leave out key components from workouts about our safety that can get us into trouble. Last fall I gave a dozen self defense workshops after several runners were attacked at different locations around Atlanta.
As a self-defense instructor I tend to pick up on habits people have that could potentially get them into trouble. I’m not talking about eating too much chocolate or leaving wet swim trunks on the floor. I’m referring to the habits and patterns of behavior we do day after day without thinking they are putting
us in danger.
During the workshops we discussed many different examples. I’ve listed 10 of the most common ones.
This one is definitely going to happen. I can hear you now. “My friends aren’t doing 50 miles on the bike today.” “I have to ride zone 4 and you’re in zone 2.” And on and on. Yes, there will be times when you’ll be alone. Triathlon training can be a lonely journey, but that doesn’t mean you have to be isolated. Always tell family, friends and/or training partners where you plan to be and for how long. Also give them a call/text before starting and ending your workouts.
Training to Fatigue
There have been times I’ve hopped off the bike and had little to no legs left after finishing up a long ride. This is can be dangerous. When fatigue sets in reflexes slow and situational awareness lessens. If attacked, physical capacity to fight off an attacker can also be compromised. We have to train hard and
sometimes we’ll be exhausted, but pick and choose those times wisely.
Attention to Details
Watch – check, water bottles – check, helmet – check, check and check. There are so many checklists running through our heads we tend to forget one detail: to pay attention to who and what’s around us. I see athletes talking on phones, listening to music too loud and focusing on everything but the person, car or animal (in some cases) coming up on them. Always pay attention to what’s around you. This is the easiest way to avoid a confrontation with a ‘would be’ attacker.
Music is great for long workouts, I agree. But the music doesn’t have to be so loud it can be heard a quarter mile away. When headphones are in we’re less likely to hear potential dangers around us. Whether stopping for a break or in the middle of training, it’s best to have one ear bud in and one out. You’ll still have music but will also hear what’s coming close to you.
Early Mornings / Late Nights
Balancing life and training is tough. Many athletes will train early before the family is out of bed or later in the evening after work. These are great training times, but can also be a great time for an attack. Less people are out early in the morning and late at night. The chances of selecting a potential victim are
higher with no witnesses. Be extra cautious when running with little to no light. Be on the lookout for shadows that move.
Start today with the first five habits and start making corrections when necessary. In the next post, we’ll look at the next 5 habits that can get us into trouble while training. Until then, train hard, have fun and
be safe out there!