Run Safe Run Smart
A guest blog post written by Jessica Smith using her personal experience to help you be safer as you run.
Find Jessica at the following:
I run to feel empowered.
I run to disconnect.
I run to feel resilient.
But what happens when all the reasons you love to run are shadowed by fear?
I have had the unfortunate experience of being a victim of both physical assault and a dog attack. While those memories are something I would like to erase, they both heightened my sense of awareness, especially while out on solo runs.
Staying safe on a run doesn’t have to mean spending all of our miles indoors on a treadmill. Let’s talk about a couple of tips to keep us safe out there:
- Running on the road or shoulder? Be sure to run against traffic so you can observe approaching vehicles. I’m sure if you live in an urban area like me, you have lost count of how many times you’ve almost been hit by a car. My rule of thumb is to assume that drivers do not see you.
- Ditch the headphones – especially at night when your vision is impaired, in busy areas where oncoming bikers or cars are an issue, near a sporting event so you don’t miss someone yelling FORE or FOUL BALL! If you must use headphones, invest in a pair of Aftershokz so you can hear your surroundings and enjoy your music.
- Be mindful of dogs. Here is a great article that goes into detail about the best way to handle a dog attack.
- Go with your gut. If something feels sketchy, turn around, cross the street or head somewhere where there are people.
- Running at night? Wear bright, reflective clothing or invest in night gear like a headlamp or LED vest. Stick to roads you know, you don’t want to roll your ankle on a pothole you couldn’t see.
- Bring your phone – and make sure the battery is charged!
- Trying a new route? Make sure you share your location with a family member or friend.
- Carry ID – RoadID makes clip-on ID information for your running watch, shoe, or even a solo wristband. These are especially helpful if you have a medical condition that someone providing assistance should know about.
A 2019 study from Runner’s World concluded that 84% of women had experienced some type of harassment while on a run – groping, being followed, lewd comments, honks, and more. I hate that in the year 2021, we have to worry about this while we are out doing something we love, but it’s the world we live in and the best thing you can do is be prepared.
- Take a self-defense class. Runner and self-defense instructor, Julie Barron Morrill says “the body can’t go where the mind has never been” meaning you have to take the time to think about and even practice your response to an attack ahead of time.
- Carry pepper spray. Sabre makes a compact pepper spray that has an easy-to-wear velcro strap and can shoot up to 12 feet.
- Carry a personal safety alarm – products like Run Angel and Birdie activate an incredibly loud siren… think jet engine take-off loud.
- Be smart about your route – don’t share where or when you are running on social media. Mix up your routes so you aren’t running the same one every day.
- Learn more about women’s running safety through Runner’s Alliance.
I know that thinking about scenarios like this can be scary and even deter us from running but remember that knowledge is POWER and preparation is KEY. Let’s be mindful of these precautions so we can enjoy focusing on putting one foot in front of the other.
Happy (safe) running folks!