Running safety is one of those things you don't really think about until it's to late. You're out for a normal run, the sun has gone down and suddenly you get a weird feeling in your stomach. Something all runners, ESPECIALLY FEMALE, should do is take the time to make sure they are crossing their T's and dotting their I's when it comes to their safety precautions. Here's 8 tips to staying safe while running:
1. Run With A Group.
When I first moved to New York City in September of 2013, I would run alone in Central Park after sundown and never felt unsafe because I was surrounded by other runners. Then in the middle of November, everyone disappeared and I realized that Winter running was a different ball of wax in NYC than Fall running. That was the moment I joined my first running group.
Running groups and running friends are great for a million different reasons but first and foremost, running in numbers is your safest bet. There's power in numbers so step out of your comfort zone and find some training buddies.
2. Stick To Well Lit High Traffic Areas.
This pertains particularly to you suburbia dwellers, it is incredibly important that you stick to running in well lit and high traffic areas. When I started running I would weave through different developments because it was convenient but that meant running through dark developments with no eyes on me. I rarely knew my way around and I was essentially a slow moving target. When you run in well lit areas with lots of traffic and passers by's, you have more eyes inadvertently looking out for you.
(Side Note: You know to run the opposite way of traffic right? Oh good.) And if you're running at night, wear bright reflective colors or even flashing lights. My GM and Poppy got me lights that I wear as a bracelet and on my shoes for when I run at night. MAKE YOURSELF VISIBLE TO CARS! They aren't watching for you. It's your job to stay out of their way.
3. Don't Run With Headphones.
I hate running without music but if I'm alone and there aren't a lot of runners around, I ditch them. I can't tell you how important it is to rely on all your senses when running alone to keep you safe from both people and cars.
4. Tell Someone You're Going For A Run.
There's no excuse in this social day and age not to tell someone you're going for a run. That being said, posting a picture on Instagram saying, "Going for a run!" Doesn't cut it. If you have a significant other, best friend, parent, sibling, friend, roommate or family member you are always in contact with let them know before you take off for a run. It helps to be specific with where you'll be running and how long you'll be gone.
This is really important and I know it sounds annoying and tedious but should anything ever happen you will be glad you did. It's not hard to say, "Hey I'm going for a 4 mile run around the park. I'll be back in less than hour." Anything can happen when you run and having a contact person who will notice if you don't return is a really great way to eliminate worst case scenarios. I often just holler at my roommates when I'm going out the door, "See you in (insert estimated amount of time here)" and then takeoff.
5. Safety Features.
More GPS watches and apps nowadays have SOS or live tracking features, USE THEM! The more eyes on you the better! They make it incredibly easy if trouble arises. You literally just PRESS A BUTTON. I have a Timex One GPS watch that has both an SOS feature and email capabilities. I also always use RunKeeper when I run and it lets people (like my sister) track me when I run. (This also helps on weekends when I'm running behind schedule. If she knows I have to do 17 miles she can gauge just how late I will be to brunch.) Better safe than sorry which leads me to...
6. TRUST YOUR GUT!
You know the feeling, you're out running and the hair on the back of your neck raises. That's your spider senses saying, "Something isn't right." Listen to them! When that happens find somewhere to go. I remember last Winter I was running on the West Side Highway after work, in the dark, by myself. I just suddenly felt unsafe. I turned around and I noticed a man running who wasn't wearing running clothes. I shot like a rocket to the nearest corner Deli. I told the guy behind the counter, "Hey I was out running and I feel like someone is following me. Do you mind if I hang out in here for a minute?" He not only let me hang out and shake off the nerves but he made his son run with me back to work. (Who says New Yorkers are mean????) TRUST. YOUR. GUT. Know your surroundings and if somethings not right either call 911, call your people or find the closest person who can help you. DON'T BE A HERO! JUST STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING AND GET HELP. Even if you're just being paranoid it's worth it to take the precautions and be safe.
7. Look People In The Eyes.
If you're out running alone, confidently make eye contact with a "Don't f*ck with me" glare. I learned that tip Freshman year of College in a "Safety 101" class and I have never received better advice in my life. Make eye contact with people who make you uneasy and go on your merry way.
8. Pepper Spray.
I don't run with mace but I know there are times I should. If you do run with mace, "YOU NEED TO KNOW HOW TO USE IT!" That means you need to go on a run, whip it out quickly and know how to aim, shoot and get away. Be smart if you run with mace. Practice. Make sure it's not something that is going to trip you up and then harm you.
Running safety is no laughing matter! You really have to be smart and stay on your toes (not just because heel striking is bad for you...get it? GET IT!?!!? Because you're supposed to run on the forefront of your foot? No? Ok...Anyways...) I know it's annoying and it can seem like you're wasting your time but it's something that must be done.
What are some of your favorite ways to stay safe while you run? Did I miss anything? Until tomorrow, #RunSelfieRepeat.