The Running Doctor: Tips for outdoor winter activities

Here are a few safety tips for both recreational walkers, bikers, and serious runners now that the days have gotten shorter and many are getting outside after dark in colder weather.

 When walking or running, do so against traffic to prevent accidents. If you turn your back on a driver, you may be giving up your life.

 When walking or running at night, wear white clothing and some reflective material or carry a small flashlight. When biking use front and back blinking lights.

 Carry identification with you. Your name, address and phone number, as well as your blood type and any medical conditions and allergies to drugs, should be listed.

 Listen for safety. Wearing earphones may relax you when walking or running, but by blocking out the traffic sounds, you may not be able to hear a truck, car or bike approaching. Another problem is that a runner with earphones is easy prey to a mugger who can catch you off guard.

 Always give dogs their territory. Put on a show for the dog; make believe you are picking up something and then pretend that you are getting ready to throw the object at the dog. Yell at the dog and be sure to move to the other side of the road. This method usually works. Never try to outrun a dog!

 Wear the proper clothing as the seasons change. In the winter, dress in layers.

 Monitor your morning pulse rate. When waking up, stay in bed for a few moments and take your pulse. After a few months, your pulse should be regulated. If your pulse rate increases by ten or more beats, your body is telling you that you are under stress and to take a day or so off until your pulse rate returns to normal.

 Drink plenty of fluids. In the summer, take an additional 20 ounces of fluid every thirty minutes during running. And remember, it is just as important to drink fluids before starting out in the winter as well.

 Listen to your body; train, don’t strain. Every walker and runner handles workloads and stress differently. Learn to read your body and be aware of signs of overtraining; high morning pulse, lightheadedness, sore throat, swollen glands, loss of power and a feeling of heavy legs.

Stay healthy and fit. Remember safety on the road and we will all have a good time.

Dr. Robert F. Weiss is a podiatrist. He was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Marathon Trials. Dr. Weiss is a veteran of 35 marathons. For more information visit