Opt for a bun over a ponytail.
Aside from not running alone, staying inside the gym to use the treadmill and taking constant self-defense classes, it’s important to continue to find ways to keep yourself safe while running. In my opinion—and I’m not happy about it—there are three common denominators when people are attacked on the run: being alone, being female and running in an unpopulated area.
But I’m going to make a confession here: I still run alone, but only about half of the time and never in isolated areas or after dark. But I still run alone. I also drive a car even though 110 people are killed daily in car accidents. And I know for a fact that all of you do one or both of these things too. But I’m not going to stop running alone—but I will also take every precaution that I can. When you drive, you take precautions by wearing a seat belt, not being distracted, and, honestly, assuming everyone else on the road is stupid. In other words, you’re aware of my surroundings and drive defensively.
Here are some precautions to take to be safe—not just while running, but also in general.
- Always tell someone where you are going.
- Stay on well-traveled and well-lit roads. Don’t take shortcuts through woods, poorly lit areas, etc.
- If possible, run with a dog, a group or at least one other person.
- Ditch the headphones.
- Bring your phone.
- If someone looks shady to you, cross the street or go the other way.
- Vary your routes. Don’t be predictable.
- Know where you’re going. Looking confused and lost can make you a target.
- Don’t be distracted. Perpetrators specifically look for people who aren’t 100 percent aware of their surroundings.
- Consider taking a self-defense class. You never know when you might need these skills.
- Reconsider the ponytail, which is an easy thing to grab and pull. Opt for a bun or something harder to grasp onto as you go.
- Run confidently, meaning tall and focused, to display confidence.
- Trust your gut. If something or someone doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
- Bring pepper spray.
What are your additional safety tips for running alone, at night or at all? Tweet @WomensRunning!