Road Rules

Now that it’s offically almost kinda summer, I’ve been seeing a ton of people out of hibernation. They’re walking, running, biking, or walking their dogs/husbands/children. I think it’s great that everybody is so excited to get in shape for the warm weather, but it’d be even more great to do it safely!
I was walking the dog last night, and passed a few people that got my wheels turning about writing a post about getting in shape outside in a safe way.
I try to get to the local sports center as often as I can. They have a nice paved bike path, a track, and a bunch of sports fields, it’s all fenced in and really safe. With a 2 month old though, sometimes it just doesn’t happen. My life works around her schedule, and if we’re having a fussy day I sometimes end up walking the dog by myself while my amazing Mom comes up for some quality Nana time. We live in a pretty rural community, so sidewalks are few and far between. I came up with a list of the things that I do to keep everybody safe on our daily walks. It seems like common sense to a lot of people, but I see a ton of people around here playing with fire.
  • I expect Dixie to behave when she’s on the leash. I’m more strict with her when I’m pushing the stroller. She’s expected to walk quietly at my left heel, and we don’t stop to sniff every single piece of grass. If we have to stop to cross the road, or for any other reason, I tell her to ‘sit’ and ‘wait’. She doesn’t move until I say ‘ok’. We do our potty buisness before and afterwards. Nothing makes the neighbors more angry than a dump and run. I stay consistent with the rules, and she picked it up really quickly. We went on a few family walks with my husband pushing the stroller so I could focus on working with her. She also has a good ‘recall’ and I wouldn’t take her with us if I didn’t know that she would come right back to me if I were to drop the leash. Bringing your dog with you is a great way to get them the daily exercise that they need, but if they can’t behave in a way that makes them managable don’t risk it. You don’t want to chance them getting hit by a car, or even worse, pulling you and the stroller into traffic or a ditch. I recommend this harness. We use it with Dixie, and it’s worked wonderfully. Just make sure that you adjust it properly.
  • On the days that are too hectic to bring the baby to the sports center, my Mom ends up coming up to watch the baby so I can get the dog out, and it’s usually around dusk. It’s a beautiful time of the day to walk. There have been a ton of people disappearing lately, so I forgo my normally hilly route, for a more populated area. There are houses on either side of the road, and no long stretches of nothingness, unlike on my usual route. I’m about 5’2 and I weigh 120 lbs. I’m not exactly a ninja master, so any type of fight would be pathetic. (My husband and I used to wrestle all the time, and he was a GREAT teacher when it came to teaching me to wiggle out of any restraint, but when I got pregnant we stopped.) It makes me a pretty easy target. Staying in a populated, well traveled area is the safest option for me. I have had a handful of people stop to try to talk to me while I’m walking with the dog. I just ignore them and keep walking. 9 times out of 10 they drive off, but if they do stick around I make sure to stay aware of the type of car they are driving, liscence plate number, and the person themselves. I wouldn’t hesitate to call the police if I really felt that there was a threat, and I always carry my phone with me. No exceptions. Ever. With the press of two buttons, my husband is on the line and I trust him to make the proper decision in any type of emergency situation, even if he’s 1,000 miles away. Listen to your gut, and don’t fall for any smooth talk.
  • We have a great wildlife population in the area. It’s fun to watch the deer in the fields, or see all the different types of birds and cute little chipmunks. I’ve also seen a bear. I carry pepper spray with me on every walk for that reason. (I talked to one woman who carries a small handgun, but I don’t feel comfortable with that. If anything were to happen with another person, it could be easily wrestled away, and used on me or my daughter. I’ve been sprayed with pepper spray twice and it really sucks. Like really, REALLY sucks, but I’m confident that I’d be able to work through it.) If you were to see a bear, or other dangerous animal while you’re out walking don’t chase it. Most of the time they are more afraid of you then you think. Jump up and down, scream, make obnoxious nosises. They’ll probably run. Call your local police station or game warden, report the sighting, and make your way straight home.
  • The cars on these roads usually travel at a pretty high rate of speed. We don’t have a local police station, and while the State Troopers are great about having a presence in the area, speed limits are usually just a suggestion. I walk into oncoming traffic and stay as far on the shoulder as possible. It’s easier when I’m walking with just Dixie as Shannon is still too small for our jogging stroller so I have to load her in the ‘mall stroller’. I also wear highly visible clothing. Bright colors are your friend. When I walk Dixie closer to dusk, I usually steal one of husband’s reflective belt things and Dixie’s leash is also reflective. I see SO many people with just the reflectors on their shoes, or bike spokes, beboppin’ around at night. It’s not enough people! I’m sure I look like a fool wearing that giant yellow(ish) belt like a prom queen sash, but I think I’d look even worse with my face caved in. Maybe I should get a light up tiara to top off the outfit. I also have reflective tape that I put on Shannon’s stroller. She doesn’t come with us on our dusk walks, but better safe than sorry. Unfortunatly accidents still happen but take all the precautions that you can to be visible. If you’re driving and see somebody on the road, slow the **** down! Taking the time to slow 10-15 mph down is so much eaiser than the guilt of hitting somebody.
  •  I love to listen to music when I work out. In fact I can’t exercise without it. I blast it in the gym, and at home (when the baby isn’t sleeping), but I don’t blast it when I’m on the road. I can’t hear cars coming up behind me, other people walking or biking, animals, or if the baby starts crying. I’m not a hard core runner. I walk/jog to get cardio into my workout routine in a way that I can include the dog, and get the pumpkin out in the fresh air. When M is home, its a great way to spend time as a family. I don’t need to have music blasting as a way to motivate myself to pump out that last mile, like I do when I need motivation to bust out those last 10 Russin Twists. Keep the music at a reasonable level, or keep one earbud out. I also don’t text or make phone calls while I’m walking. I will stop (when it’s safe) to take a picture or two, but I’m always aware of cars and I take my earbuds out.
  •  I don’t talk to people that I don’t know on the road. I have a wicked cute dog, and an even cuter baby so more often than not people want to peek into the stroller, or give the dog a scratch. I don’t stop. I’ll flash a quick smile, or wave, but I keep the same pace. It makes me feel like I’m making less of a target of myself. That and it gets really annoying when people are constantly sticking their face in my kid’s face. I don’t know if you’re sick or not.
I know that this was a pretty long winded post, so if you’ve made it to this point… go you! I feel really strongly (now that I’m a Mom) that precautions should be made when you’re exercising on a road. I want to set a good example for my daughter, and I want to be around for her! It’s a wonderful way to get out, but I beg you to be safe!!
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