Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Rules of the Road && Sending Out an SOS

I'll probably end up jinxing myself, biting my tongue, or saying I spoke too soon, but after a few weeks of really, really, REALLY crazy weather....I think Chicago is finally beginning to see spring! It became official for me two weeks-ish ago when I decided to go for a quick 45 minute ride outside. And even though it wasn't part of my training plan that day, it was the best decision I had made all day! This past weekend was even better, in the 70s, sunny and begging for Chicago's cohabitants to bust open the windows and shed their jackets. And even though I learned last summer that the lake shore path is not something to train on, I threw caution to the wind and dragged my training partner out on it for our first long ride outside. Despite the areas that I knew would be congested, it actually ended up being a good ride, and we got a solid 30 plus miles in :)

So that was all well-and-good but while riding I realized that it was worth mentioning that while training there are rules of the road that every triathlete should be aware of....both for themselves and others around them.

Rules of the Road: Biking
1) Always wear a helmet, ALWAYS! My partner and I broke this rule this past weekend and I was nervous nearly the entire time. This is for safety purposes but then also it's a good habit to get into, seeing as if you do end up racing, you can be disqualified if you are seen riding around the weekend of the race without a helmet.

2) Always pass on the left and let the person know you are about to pass them! This is the one thing that makes riding on the lake path difficult, if it gets crowded there are runners, roller bladders and bikers all trying to get ahead of one another. And sometimes you will have that one biker that cuts over too close and gets too close for comfort. As a general rule of thumb, I try to stay as close to the right as possible and I will give the person a 3-5 second warning that I am going to pass them (On your left!). This becomes a problem if the person is wearing head phones. The best thing you can do for yourself is be loud and announce your presence. There was one point when I came up to a runner who was hugging the left side I wanted to pass on. Luckily he didn't have headphones in so I yelled out, "Passing on your right runner". He heard me and gave me a thumbs up for the pass. Other than that it is just common knowledge to pass on the left, since you have to do it for races and in my experience, runners stay to the right....and trying to get around them on the right will definitely put you in the position to be a victim of their loooogies and booogers! EW!

3) Along with #2, NEVER wear head phones when you are biking! I did this the first time I went riding and when I told my coach she was quick to address this. It almost seems like common sense now to ride without them, but as an amateur my thought process was that music would help entertain me. But safety always comes before entertainment. I occasionally see cyclists with headphones in, but as a general rule of thumb, leave them at home and enjoy the scenery.

4) Use hand signals. If you are going to be turning or if the road breaks, be sure to hold out your hand or point, so that people behind and in front of you know that you will be breaking from the straight path that you were on.

Rules of the Road: Runners

1) Stay on the right. It's a personal bias of mine, but I tend to stay on the right of every road or path. The lake path is nice because it has a break off the road that is filled with a light gravel, specifically for runners and to optimize the space for cyclists. Really though, when I'm running that is my time and I quite enjoy my "space". I turn my music up loud and suddenly I'm lost in my own little world. Unfortunately I have to share my "world" with others around me, so for my own safety I hug the right side so people can pass me without the fear of wondering if I am going to take a sudden turn or move into their general direction.

2) Look before you leap. When I veer off the path for water or bust a move in another direction I always look behind me before I do it. I've had some pretty close calls before, where I didn't look behind me and some biker was coming up behind me and we almost collided. I've learned that whenever I am going to move, whether that is to pass someone or cut across the path 1) Always looks ahead and behind me 2) hold out my hand and point so that everyone around me can see that I will be moving.

Sending out an SOS

As it is getting warmer outside and training hits the trails it's important that you put precautionary measures in place in case you end up in a compromising position.

1) If you know you are going to be out for a long ride/run always have food/water/electrolytes on you. Having a bonking episode while you're 30 miles from home can be dangerous. Bonking is likely to occur as you are learning what types of fuels your body needs and what it can't handle. This will help you out come race day, but never go out unprepared.

2) Carry money, a debit card, and/or a bus card on you. One of my first rides out I was about 9 miles from home when I got a flat tire, but I didn't have anything on me to fix the flat, nor did I have my bus card. You can imagine how great of an experience that was. But I learned from it. Fleet Feet actually makes these bracelets now that lets you connect your debit card to it in case you need money when you are out on the run ( I don't have one of these yet but I do have a Road ID, with my medical and contact information on it in case I were to be unconscious. It's relatively inexpensive but one of the best investments I made for myself. (

3) Designate your "Person". 99% of the time I train alone. I am not big on group training but there is always that thought in the back of my mind that I want someone to know where I am. I usually text someone before I go out and they become my "person". This becomes difficult though when living far away from your person. But never fear! There are a bunch of apps I came across that allow you to put in your training plan and if you don't return by the time you put in, it will send a text/email to your person. There are also other apps for safety purposes, if you were to ever be out and feel like your safety were in jeopardy. They make loud noises to alert others around you. And I found all of this in this article ( DEFINITELY worth a read!

It may be all-too cliche, but it goes without saying:

Safety First Friends :)

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