Running can be a relatively safe activity but God forbid there comes a day in which you find yourself in a life threatening situation. I am not referring to training in extreme elements or terrain. The danger I speak of today is violent crime. If you pay attention to local or national news you will inevitably come across tragic stories of female runners who never returned home from their workouts because they were torn from this world far too early by the actions of some vile degenerate. Specific instances and graphic details are not needed here. Rather, I would prefer to point out ways to reduce your chances of becoming a target in the first place. It’s true that women must be far more cautious than men, but that does not mean you should let your guard down guys. Even someone like me is very alert and aware at all times because being inattentive to my surroundings at the wrong moment can spell disaster. While most of this article is directed toward women, today’s world can be profoundly dangerous for either gender.
All of us run in different environments, but it makes no difference when it comes to practicing safety. Some are trail runners while others prefer the pavement in our suburban Shangri-La. Still others are city dwellers and must endure even more safety challenges. That is why I have created a 10 point list of safety tips for runners.
- Let someone know where you are going before you leave. If this is not an option, write down where you will be running and the expected time of your return before you depart. And don’t forget to bring I.D.
- If you are running alone, do not stop to give directions to ANYONE. Just because someone appears to be harmless doesn’t mean that they are. Ted Bundy is a perfect example of appearances being deceiving.
- Whenever possible, run with friends or in a group. It is true that there is safety in numbers and an attacker prefers a lone target. That is why you should NEVER make a split decision to venture off from your companions for ANY reason.
- Always run where other people are present. Picking the right time of day in a small business district can be ideal. Avoid unpopular areas, unlit routes, deserted trails and streets if you are running solo.
- Don’t run with jewelry! This means earrings, necklaces, rings, watches or bracelets. Let’s face it, you don’t need these trinkets while running. It may only serve to tempt a potential attacker and all the jewelry in the world isn’t going to make anyone look good after a hard five miles anyway.
- This tip is “safety 101″ for runners. Always run against traffic. You should all be doing this already because it’s the law many states, but most importantly it will allow you to observe all vehicles as they approach.
- Try not to establish a routine. Switch your route and time of day that you run so no potential predator can anticipate your schedule.
- Always be hyper sensitive of your surroundings and anyone that may look suspicious. Your instincts are usually correct and you need to trust them. Many of us also run with music which can dull our senses. Make sure the volume is substantially reduced or run wearing just one earphone.
- I know most runners are friendly people and women more than men need to resist the urge to make eye contact or acknowledge strangers. A polite “hello” to the wrong person in the wrong place can give a green light to a potential attacker. Ignore any shouts or obnoxious comments directed at you along your route.
- Defense methods. In the event that you have taken all necessary precautions and still find yourself in a perilous situation, you will need some form of defense. I recommend running with a key chain sized canister of pepper spray or a tiny air horn. These are items that can easily be procured at your local outdoor or camping supply store. If you cannot obtain either, a sturdy single key held strategically, can do serious damage to the eyes or throat of an attacker. Running with a dog can also be a strong deterrent to an opportunistic thug. The last thing they want is to end up as Spike’s chew toy. But please make sure that your “best friend” is capable of defending you before attempting this. Attend training classes with your dog and please don’t bring Tiffany the toy poodle out for a light jog and expect her to save the day. NEVER, under any circumstances, should you bring a knife or small gun while running. These are two items an attacker would be thrilled to take from you and use in his favor.
I trust I have succeeded in making you think about methods to be safer on the roads and trails. This is the most important issue I have ever addressed in this forum and I hope you found these tips helpful. But keep in mind that most dangerous situations can be avoided by using good old common sense. If someone or something looks dangerous, steer clear and take no chances. We all live hectic lives and some of these concepts are not always possible to apply. That’s alright. Employ as many as possible to increase your safety level and please feel free to add any tips I may have missed in the comment section below.
Run for fun, race to place, and above all please be safe.© Copyright 2012 The Hornet, All rights Reserved. Written For: Adventures In Running