While our Runner vs. Nature blog series is generally geared toward helping you navigate some of the more dangerous aspects of the great outdoors, we feel that some issues are just too important to discount, even if they don’t present any grave danger. One of those issues is spider webs.
This situation may not seem particularly dire at first, but just imagine this scenario with me for a second. You’re on a trail and you run smack into a huge spider web. After a mild freak-out session, including a crazy dance and brushing off your entire body, nearly falling over and running into a nearby tree in your struggle to find your balance, you regain your composure and sojourn on. Then, five miles later you feel a sudden sting on your calf, which only gets worse over the rest of the run. Much to your delight, you get to deal with a swollen, discolored spider bite for a week. This scenario is based on a true story.
Running into a spider web can cause a range of problems for you on your run. Not only are you covered in creepy webs across your body, but you are distracted and more apt to trip and fall (because you sure as heck aren’t thinking about your run at that moment, are you?!). And if the spider happens to be in the web at the time of your web collision, you may have an undisclosed hitchhiker for the rest of your run, which may result in a spider bite (as described above), which may or may not be very poisonous, inflicting a wide range of discomfort (and dare I say, even death?!).
But don’t let all of this worry you beyond reason; we are here to help you. We’ve put together a short list of evasive maneuvers and avoidance techniques for you to implement on your next run, should you be prone to encounter the home of one of our eight-legged friends. Please note, these maneuvers are intricate (so it is best to practice them ahead of time), and they tend to be performed best when combined with a dose of adrenaline and a loud yell.
- Phantom arm block. For those of you familiar with Phantom of the Opera, you’ll remember the advice given by Madame Giry… “Keep your hand at the level of your eyes”. This same technique to avoid being strung up by the Phantom’s noose can be applied to your run. By raising your forearm in front of your face you will find that you can wipe out any spider web in your direct path before it unwittingly covers your body. This is mostly useful when encountering small, wispy webs.
- Slide. Just as you would slide safely into home base, right under the catcher’s tag, sliding underneath a spider web requires skill, precision, and timing. Slide too far and you may go off a cliff, slide too low and you may get a full-body trail burn. Make sure to practice your form ahead of time.
- Ninja leap. For those low-level spider webs that, you’ll need to work on an agile leap that will get you completely over the web without breaking it. This is no easy task. You should also assess the ground on which you will be landing ahead of you to ensure a safe landing.
- Wear full body protection. Head to toe running gear will help shield you from that gross, crawly feeling as the web wraps around your body, and it will also protect you from any little (or big) spider hitchhikers.
- Sacrifice your running buddy. “Hey Kristin! You can lead the run today ;)”
- Choose a better time of day. Runners who run early or late tend to fall victim to spiderweb encounters. So if all else fails, run midday. Chances are, some good Samaritan runner (nay, hero) has already cleared the trail for the day. (You’re welcome.)