I’m on a bit of a roll talking about running these last couple of blog posts, having written about the benefits of running for martial artists and about running workouts for martial artists. Today, I’d like to discuss tips for staying safe while running. While women are more frequently the target of serious assaults while running, as was recently the case for Sarah B Hart of Russell County, USA who was attacked during her morning jog, running safety is relevant for everyone, so I’d like to share a few tips here to help keep people safe on the roads and trails.
Safety Tips for Before You Start Running
Before you start your run, make sure your shoe laces are tied properly. It’s a good idea to carry identification or even better, fasten your name, telephone number and blood type on the outside of your running shoes, in case of emergency. Remove any valuable jewellery. Carry a cell phone with you, as well as a little cash or an ATM card in case of emergency. Women might also want to consider carrying a loud whistle, to help call attention to an emergency situation. Know the route you intend to take before you head out. Run in areas that are familiar to you. Be aware of businesses and know the location of telephones. Change your route from time to time. If you run alone (particularly if you’re a woman), let someone know what route you’re taking. No matter what time of day it is, wear white or bright coloured clothing. If you must run at dawn or dusk, where plenty of reflective materials on your shoes, shorts, shirt or hat to help make you more visible on the roads. Blinking lights are also a good choice for running during low-light hours. If you’re a woman and don’t have time to take up a martial art, consider at least doing a self-defense class like our Self-Defense for Busy Women class in Vancouver BC, to help you be more aware and to learn some moves should you experience an assault.
Making Safer Choices for Running
If possible, run with a partner or a dog as this greatly reduces the odds of being targeted for an attack or mugging. Avoid running during low light periods, whether it’s dawn, dusk, or the dead of night. Whenever possible, avoid unpopulated areas, deserted streets and overgrown trails. Stay away from unlit areas at night. While I understand the desire to want to listen to music while you run, it is much safer to do so on a treadmill rather than outdoors so you’re not cutting off your sense of hearing, which can alert you to cars, people calling out warnings, barking dogs, etc. If you’re not going to follow this advice though, be sure to run in well-populated areas in broad daylight, keep the music turned down lower and try to stay that much more focused on your surroundings.
Staying Aware During Your Run
As a general rule, stay aware and scan your surroundings. This is important for general safety, not just when running. The trouble is that when people run, they often retreat into their heads or disconnect from their surroundings as they do so. One way to help keep yourself aware is to make a routine of it. If possible, stay off the roads as much as possible and run in parks or on paths and the sidewalk. If you must run on a street, run facing traffic so you’ll see if a car is going off the road dangerously or pulling over to approach you. Run clear of parked cars and bushes. Watch out for cracks or bumps in the sidewalk, or rocks and branches on your running path, as well as cyclists, rollerbladers, other runners, and people’s dogs.
Be wary of drivers. Drivers aren’t necessarily paying attention. They could be listening to music, talking on their cell phone, or checking a map. Don’t assume that drivers can see you or that they’ll let you go because you have the right of way. Be sure to make eye contact with drivers at street crossings before you cross.
Rely on your intuition concerning suspicious people or areas. Avoid any person or area that seems unsafe. Ignore verbal harassment and just keep moving. Use discretion in acknowledging strangers. Look directly at others, making eye contact as you pass, be observant, but keep your distance and keep moving.
Run Safe Everyone!
I think that just about covers all the different possible running safety tips. If you have any other ideas or suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments.