In an ideal world, we would be able to lace up our running shoes and head out there fearlessly no matter what. Unfortunately, this world is far from ideal, something that many runners, including myself, have sometimes discovered the hard way. There are some safety precautions that we can all take, starting now, to keep ourselves running safely:
1.Run to the beat… but keep one ear open
Running is hard. Running without music is harder! With music blaring in both ears though you are at greater risk, both from potential attackers and from speeding traffic: you won’t hear either of them coming up behind you. This doesn’t mean that you have to give up your favourite Spotify playlist however (the horror!), it just means that you should keep the music at a reasonable volume.
2.Mix up your route
Mixing up your route means that potential crazies can’t predict your movements and plan anything, well, crazy! Incidentally, this tip is not only a safety tip, but a training tip too. Always running the same route might be comfortable but it gets old, fast – plus your body gets used to always having the same demands put on it and you get less benefit from the training.
3.See, and be seen
Make sure you can be seen, and can see what’s coming! By wearing hi-vis gear you make sure you stand out and not only will distracted drivers be more likely to see you on the road but people will be more likely to remember you. In addition to this, run against the traffic so you can see what’s coming, making it easier to protect yourself from both road traffic incidents and attempted abduction into a vehicle.
4.Raise the alarm
When I first started running at university, a police officer friend gave me a rape alarm. Luckily I never had cause to use it, but one evening in the dorms a friend of mine pulled the cord on it to see what it sounded like… I have never heard such an unholy racket in all my life! The noise itself is likely to be enough to discourage all but the most determined of assailants, and many models come with flashing lights to make you are more visible to passers-by.
This last tip is probably the absolute number one for keeping safe as a woman runner. This doesn’t mean you have to run with your burliest male friend – even another woman is fine, most potential attackers look for victims on their own and are likely to bypass anyone running with a friend. Your timetable is too weird for your friends? Run with a dog. On the condition that your dog is bigger than a purse, they are a fabulous deterrent.
This last point is close to my heart. Last year I was running late in the evening and stopped for a drink at the fountain in one of the many squares in my city. I heard someone come up behind me and naively assumed they were waiting for a drink, but as I finished he grabbed me from behind and started to drag me backwards. I was lucky – he hadn’t seen my dog in the bushes nearby, and she launched herself at him, teeth bared, and he leaped into his vehicle and shot off. I was lucky on several counts, firstly that my untrained dog had the reaction she did and secondly that she is an 80lb wolf hybrid and looks scary enough to make someone back down.
Bonus: I haven’t included mace in this list, mostly because in many places it’s illegal, but if you can carry it, then it’s a good idea to do so.
Stay safe out there ladies!
Written by Paula Clarke