By Christopher Cudworth
For many years it was hard for me to comprehend the response of people who feared snakes. My wife and children all disliked them intensely, and more than one fall walk on a forest preserve trail turned into a panic when there was a snake sunning itself on the path.
We all deal with fears of one kind or another. When fear turns into a real phobia, it takes quite a bit of concentrated therapy or effort to get past, through or over it. That may never happen. It’s always worth a try.
The first time back on the bike after my bike wobble incident gave me panicky fears. Within 40 miles of riding though, my confidence was back. After all, it was not my lack of bike handling skills that causee–or allowed–me to crash.
My bike handling may in fact have saved me tons of painful trouble. Being able to steer the bike off the road at the critical point when the harmonics in the bike cause a disturbing wobble could well have been the skills that saved me life. Crashing on the asphalt going downhill at 40 mph could have been fatal. Sliding into a grassy ditch after a thump on the shoulder was a lot less risky.
The risks of fatal injury aren’t quite as real when you’re running as when you’re cycling. There are still risky conditions that can injure or kill you when running. The season from late winter into early spring is one of the worst times of year for running safety. Melting snow that leads to black ice on sidewalks can cause a runner to slip and fall. The link in the previous sentence shows that I’ve written about the subject before. So consider this post a bit of a public service announcement. Be careful out there. It’s black ice season.
Never too careful
Running with my companion on miles of ice-covered trails last Saturday made me realize again how dangerous running can sometimes be. Fortunately you could see the ice patches on the trail well before you reached them. We slowed to a walk and even crawled along the edge of the path to avoid walking on the ice.
You should too. On days when ice is present it simply doesn’t pay to risk a fall. Spraining a wrist or even breaking a bone is quite possible.
Running on ice next to traffic is really risking it. You can easily fall and have your legs run over by an oncoming car. Seriously. Do what we did. Abandon the pace in favor of living to see another day. There is no single workout that is so important you should risk your life or limbs over it.
Every season has its sneaky snakes, it seems. You’ve got your ice snakes in winter and your tarsnakes in summer.
But rather than “getting over your fears” about black ice or tarsnakes, it is much better to prepare you mind for the encounters and avoid situations in which your greatest fears can become reality.
Avoid the horrors
It’s like those scenes in the horror movies when the cute girl is wandering through the dark house alone. Why even go there? Instead you need to avoid the horrors of black ice by looking ahead as you run during seasonal transition. If you see a snow bank and you know the temps were warm the day before, you’ve got to figure there will be ice frozen to the sidewalk or driveway coming up.
Yes, it sounds like common sense. But those of us who have “gone down” as I did once hurdling a gate at a forest preserve entrance only to find out there was black ice on the drive beyond will encourage you to use caution rather than bravado. That little crash cost me months of soreness in my wrist. It was lucky I did not break it.
So be smart during what remains of winter. Don’t let the ice snakes get you.
The tarsnakes of summer are bad enough.