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While out on a run the other day I was thinking about my three children. Why can’t they worry about themselves and not always be telling the other one what to do, or more annoying yet, tattling to me. I say the phrase ‘worry about yourself’ at least 5 times a day. “I’ve become my parents,” I think to myself.
That’s when it clicked.
When it comes to safety while running, you need to WORRY about yourself.
Don’t assume because you are wearing reflective gear head to toe on an early morning run, that the driver coming towards you sees you. Be concerned that he possibly doesn’t. Don’t assume that every person you see out walking around at 4:45 am, is just walking to work, maybe they have bad intentions – you don’t know.
While I don’t think we as runners should live in fear, I do believe that a healthy amount of worry is a good thing when it comes to running. I’ve had a couple of really scary incidents while running that have turned me in to the type of runner that worries about myself when I run.
Just this morning I paused at a crosswalk, saw I had enough time to run across the crosswalk before the car in the distance would cross it, so I ran across. As the woman got closer to the crosswalk she put down her window and yelled curse words out the window at me. I’m assuming she was angry that she had to slow down her speed slightly instead of blasting across the crosswalk. The old me would have flicked her off and yelled back, the new more concerned me, knows the crosswalk laws in Virginia but kept quiet and kept running.
Here are my tips for staying safe on a run:
- Leave a note saying how far you are running and what time you left. I think this is a great idea even if you live alone. You never know how helpful that note could be if you were to go missing. Authorities now know where you were last.
- Don’t post when you are leaving on social media. You do not know who is following you on social media if you have a public account. It’s really not hard to learn more about someone than they want you to know these days. All it takes a Google search and a bit of detective work and someone can most likely figure out exactly where you live.
- Mix up your running route so you aren’t a predictable victim.
- Don’t run the same mileage on the same day of the week. Again, you don’t want to be predictable to someone who possibly is watching you.
- Mix up your pace. This goes right along with changing your route and your mileage. If you are running the same 5 miles at an 8:30 pace every Tuesday you are a predictable target for a stalker-type criminal.
- In the early morning hours or late at night say hi to every runner you pass. If something happens to you, someone is more likely to remember seeing you if you made a point to say hi to them rather than just running past.
- Decide if you should wear more reflective gear or less if you are running in the dark. I run in a well-lit area. I do not want to draw attention to myself as a runner so I don’t often wear a lot of reflective gear. I want to blend in and not stick out to anyone who could commit a crime of opportunity. This means however that I need to be extra aware of cars, because they are not likely to see me.
- If you are running where there are a lot of cars, then reflective gear is probably a good choice for you. Make sure, however, to not let this gear give you a false sense of safety. You still need to be aware of cars and it’s a good idea to assume they don’t see you even if you are wearing reflective gear.
- Don’t listen to music on runs in the dark. The last thing you need to do is zone out on an early morning or late night run. Learn to listen to what is going on around you. Are the leave rustling behind you—turn around and see if someone is there. Learn to hear cars before you actually see them.
- If you run with your dog, don’t let it give you a false sense of security. I think dogs can be an excellent way to deter a would be attacker, but just because you are running with one doesn’t mean you are automatically safe.
- If you run with a friend remember that while it can be safer to run in numbers, there is no guarantee you are safe because a friend is with you. Be vigilant about your safety regardless of who you are with.
- If you have a way to carry your cell phone, carry it. Make sure it’s fully charged, so if you needed to make a call you can.
- Make a wise choice about mace. I have never run with mace and won’t ever run with it. I believe that it’s possible that if someone attacked me and were stronger than me that mace could be used against me. I need my eyes fully functioning if something were to happen to me. There are, however, situations where mace could come in handy, like if you run in a rural area where you are more worried about an attack by an animal, rather than a person.
- If someone asks you to stop or tries to get you to stop by asking you a question—do not feel bad if you say I’m sorry and keep on running.
Read More About Staying Safe On The Run:
Running Safety Tips That Can Save Your Life
My Body, My Run, My Safety—So Stop Telling Me To Shut Up About It