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Running season is here again

It’s that time of year again — running season, that is.

Yes, Virginia, the four best months for running, in our state at least, are upon us. September, October, November and December offer the finest distance-running weather. The humidity is on its way out and is gone by the end of September. The really cold weather and higher risk of snow doesn’t usually appear until January and February.

If you’re hoping to take up running, there’s no better time than autumn. Running is a great way to stay active, challenge yourself physically and mentally, enjoy the outdoors, learn more about your community and let your competitive side out.

If you need a goal to get you started, the perfect opportunity is coming on Oct. 1, when the Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community is holding its annual Peanut Fest 5K Run-Walk and 1-Mile Walk.

This is a great beginner’s race, and not just because it’s free. It’s a friendly, noncompetitive event, and it’s convenient in downtown Suffolk.

Although it’s free, you do have to register beforehand. Visit www.suffolkpartnership.org for more information.

Of course, running is great for your health, but it will have the opposite effect if you’re not in good enough shape to handle it or if you get struck by a car or meet with some other disaster. So, here are some tips you can use to stay safe while running, adapted from a list from the Road Runners Club of America.

  • Visit your doctor before you start any new exercise plan.
  • Don’t wear headphones. You need your ears to help you be aware of your surroundings.
  • Sidewalks and trails provide protection from vehicles, but if you’re just running in your neighborhood, for example, run against traffic, so you can observe approaching automobiles.
  • To avoid sun damage, wear sunscreen, a visor, sunglasses and a T-shirt.
  • In extreme heat or cold, hit the gym or take a rest day. Avoid the hottest part of the day during the summer.
  • Look both ways before crossing intersections. Make eye contact with drivers, and ensure they have acknowledged you. Obey traffic signals.
  • Carry identification or something that identifies your name, emergency contact numbers and medical information.
  • Stay alert and trust your intuition about a person or an area.
  • Vary your running route. Only run in familiar areas, and trust your intuition about a person or area.
  • Run with a partner or a dog.
  • Write down or leave word of the direction of your run. Make sure your friends and family know your favorite running routes.
  • Wear reflective material if you run before dawn or after dark.
  • Call police immediately if something happens to you or someone else, or if you notice anything out of the ordinary.