As Fall has begun, it is a reminder that some of our runs may be happening when it is darker outside. Especially if you are preparing for a long distance fall race! If you are not a member of a training group and you find yourself solo on most of your runs, this means you really need to take some safety precautions on your training runs.
I personally never used to be concerned for my safety when I was running alone. When we lived in Texas, most days I would drop off the young boy to school, then head up to this secluded paved, hill road to get in some great training runs. I could be out there by myself, focus on my music, get my miles in and never once did I think about "all the things" that could happen.
Until one day, when a fellow blogger and Facebook friend experienced a personal tragedy in her family, where a female cousin was killed while out on her morning training run. You can read the story of Sherry here. Soon after that, I read of a gentleman running solo in Arizona that was found killed on his run as well. It was around this same time another fellow blogger shared a post about running safety. I knew I had to pay attention. My husband demanded me to take precautions that I had never ever thought of before.
Obviously we don't want to go through life living in complete fear every day. We shouldn't - that's no way to live. And many of us may not have a choice to train in a group instead of solo. Obviously, we are not going to stop running either. So, we need to be proactive to mitigate potential safety issues if we are running solo.
My friend at Shut Up & Run posted the following list of advise in 2012, after another woman was killed while on a solo run (you can read the original post here.)
- Always tell someone where you are going.
- Stay on well travelled and well lit roads. Don’t take short cuts 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% aware of their surroundings.
- Consider taking a self defense class. You never know when you might need these skills.
- Reconsider the pony tail. This is an easy thing to grab and pull.
- Have an air of confidence. Walk or run tall with your head up.
- Trust your gut. If something/someone doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
- Bring pepper spray, but keep in mind it can be used against you too.
- If attacked, do everything in your power to not be taken to another location.
I know many of us Strava, DailyMile, etc to track our runs but if you link them to your social media accounts, then the minute you start those tracking apps, you are able to tell people where you are! If you do choose to use one of those apps, just don't link it and don't make it public. The tracking app I use is Garmin. Only one other person has access to my Garmin account and that's my husband. I do not have it linked to social media.
I always make sure my husband knows my route. Recently we downloaded the Life360 app, which allows him to track me on my run as well (it's also great for tracking your kiddos when they get to driving age). It shows if I have stopped and where. It's not always 100% accurate, as usually, when I get within a few blocks of our house, it will say I am home (which is why we prefer the Garmin app).
I have often crossed the street when coming up on someone that made me uncomfortable. And I do use my headphones. One headphone.
I try to run through crowded areas on sidewalks so that I'm surrounded by people. However, that doesn't work for long runs. I try to stay on popular running trails for those longer runs.
Let's talk about running in the darkness - are you lite up? There are some great "lighting" options! Above, you see that there are lights that you can wear on your body (noxgear) and
Lighting Technology is now being woven into tops and bottoms! You of course need to make sure you are not all in black - this makes you invisible to drivers (even if they have their headlights on). Look for some great reflective wear tops and bottoms!
What about a headlamp? Are you wearing one? My favorite is the Nathan Nebula Fire LED. It's moderately priced and a comfortable fit.
Want a handheld? Nathan has a great one for that as well - it's rechargeable. I use the Nathan Zephry Fire 300. It looks like this...
So... there is a lot to consider before heading out the door on your next solo run. Is it dark outside (or even dusk)? Do you need lighting? Does someone you trust know your route? Is your social media tracking off? What's your game plan if someone does approach you?
We shouldn't live in fear, but we definitely have to be aware and pro-active when we are running alone. What are some safety tips you follow that I didn't mention?