Corny but true! This is a catch phrase from a good friend of mine. We all need regular reminding that in our training & racing the safety of ourselves & others should be of paramount importance.
I was further reminded of this today when I was watching a road cycling race on part closed roads, when part of the bunch decided to overtake a bus on the inside, whilst a group (they were the minority) took the sensible option & stayed behind the bus until it was safe to move forward. This careless manoeuvre by the bunch amounted to nothing as they were told to neutralise & regroup (in this race riders are not allowed to overtake vehicles). Absolutely nothing was gained by this manoeuvre, but if an accident had occurred, think of the consequences 1. for the Bus driver, 2. for the Riders, 3. for the family & friends of the driver & rider, 4. for the future of that event. Therefore it goes without saying, always take the safe option & obey marshals & the rules of the event.
Safety In Training (this is not an exhaustive list & athletes should seek their own independent advice for correct safety procedures, this is more of an overview & to alert athletes to consider safety options).
Remember it is training & not racing. We are all addicted to going faster & getting a pb even in training, but never put this ahead of safety. Always obey the highway code (red lights, stop signs, roundabouts etc etc), always look (in front & behind) before changing lanes, moving off your line, stop at kerbs & look before crossing roads. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but you should get the gist. The only time we should be aiming to complete a PB is in our races & particularly our ‘A’ races, you will not be able to do this if you don’t make it to race if you do not always take the safe option.
Swimming, Pool swimming, not too much should need to be said, however, check there is a life guard on duty & their position, check the direction of the lanes (clockwise or anticlockwise), ensure you are in the correct lane (Fast, Medium, Slow, Recreational), be aware of other lane users & don’t start a new length if a swimmer is about to turn for their next length, let faster swimmers overtake at the turns. If you show respect to your fellow swimmers hopefully they will show respect in return.
Open Water, Never swim alone (use the buddy system), always wear a bright coloured swim cap, only swim where it is designated for swimming. Preferably swim at a venue specifically set up for open water swimming with life guards in attendance, only swim in waterways that you are familiar with & know. Only swim in open water if you are a competent & confident swimmer, if not I suggest you seek out instruction on open water swimming.
Cycling: As stated above always obey the highway code and wear a helmet. If training in low light, night or early morning have bright lights at both the front & rear & wear reflective gear and brightly coloured clothing. Always look over your shoulder when starting to ride or changing lanes, be aware & observant of your surroundings. If cycling in a group cycle either two abreast (nice & close together) or single file, try to keep the groups small 10 (recommended) – 16 cyclists. Indicate your actions to other cars & cyclists, communicate (call or sign) all road conditions to other cyclists (eg hole, glass, stopping etc), if you hear a call pass it on. Carry a mobile phone & ID.
Running: If training in low light, night or early morning wear bright colours with reflective strips on your clothing, stop at a kerb, look & wait for other road users (trucks, buses, cars, bikes etc) prior to crossing a road. Obey traffic signals (i.e. don’t walk), do not run alone in isolated areas, carry id. If you must run with music, only have one ear piece in & keep the volume low so you can hear what is going on around you. I personally think it is safer to run without music.
Safety in Racing
Most of the principals above apply in racing. Obey the rules of the race, listen to the race briefing & obey the instructions of the marshals. Of particular importance be aware of other competitors & their actions, particularly on the bike, at the mount & dismount areas & in transition.
Whilst lengthy but not exhaustive, hopefully this has provided enough food for thought to always treat your safety as important.