With each breaking news story of a runner attacked, I watch the fear begin to rise within our community. After a few of you reached out asking if I had any specific safety tips, I thought it was time to put together a full post.
I’ve talked about all the benefits of running alone, but I can tell there’s been a wavering of confidence in many runners.
First, I want to address the overall issue: should we be afraid to run alone?
No. But we should be smart.
Below I’ll share safety tips, but before that there are some ways we can boost our confidence. And in this case confidence doesn’t mean ignoring the issue, it means running from a place of strength that allows you to react if needed and not to be scared away from doing something you love.
- The unknown can be scary, so the more you do it, the more comfortable it becomes.
- Talk with other local runners to see the good experiences they’ve had.
- Maintain perspective about how often these things truly happen. They’re high profile and splashed across the news, but thousands of runners go out everyday unharmed.
If you’re still concerned then honestly, you’ve got two options: the treadmill or running with a group.
The most obvious tip is to run with a friend or with a group, as you’re less likely to be approached and surrounded by people who could help defend if something happened. I’ve written before about getting over your fear of group runs or how to create a group if there isn’t one.
However, many of you like me cherish those solo runs. So let’s dive in to things that can help us continue enjoying those miles.
Tips for Running Alone
Let’s be honest, some of these are no brainers and things we’ve all head before, but I had to include them in an effort to be thorough and because the days are getting shorter and more of us are spending our runs in the dark, these reminders are always good!
Picky About Headphones
Safety experts will tell you to ditch them all together, but I know that means many people will just stop running. Instead, we’re very lucky to live in a time where we have other options.
- Aftershokz are a great bone conducting headphone, which allow you to keep your ears totally free to hear surrounding sounds, while still enjoying your podcast or music.
- Run with one headphone. A better option for hearing your surroundings
- Save the music for daylight hours or heavily traffic paths
Be Choosy About Time and Place
Pick a safe place, well duh!! But as the most recent incident showed, these things can happen anywhere.
Which means there are a few other things to consider:
- start by running alone when you know more people will be out in your neighborhood so you feel safer
- choose locations that are well lit, again this will increase your comfort starting out
- when traveling ask local runners about the best options (you’ll see lots of the same places mentioned over and over on Facebook groups)
- on the trails opt for staying a bit closer to the trail head and going when more runners are out
- run against traffic – especially if on the road you should be running towards cars, that gives you more control
Runner Safety Gear
I’ve seen a lot of recommendations to carry mace, but I admit for me that doesn’t feel right. I’m nearly positive that having it out of the case and ready to use, would lead to my injury before anyone else’s.
Instead here are a few other options:
- personal safety alarm (I’m carrying this one now! And yes I purchased a pack so I keep it multiple places)
- carry a key (in new places I often did this, keeping it between fingers ready to go)
- micro stun gun (my issue with things like this remains needing time to get it out to use it)
- whistles (these come on many hydration packs for bears, but they’re great for safety in general)
- Defend Six is a new tool that can alert you through your headphones if someone is approaching you from behind.
Beyond ways to protect yourself, it’s also really important to ensure that you’re visible and easily noticed by drivers or anyone else out in the neighborhood. This is not a time to blend in.
- Nathan’s Reflective Vest: I like that this actually sits close to the body and is much smaller than a full vest
- Heel lights: kind of like the light up shoes kids have!
Learn Some Self Defense
I think many of us shy away from self-defense classes because subconsciously if we don’t think about the threat of attack it’s not real. Instead, we need to feel strong and empowered, the same way running makes us feel.
Doing Krav Maga in Israel definitely made me realize how much more confident women are there because they’ve all be trained!
Here are a few of the key moves to feel confident performing:
We’re so used to being quiet that when we actually need to scream it may not happen so easily.
Heel of Palm to Nose
If they’ve grabbed your arm and you can break one free, then flatten your palm, straighten your arm and snap your help in to their nose. This swift strike hurts, without requiring you to know anything about punching, and the blood will usually distract them for you to get away.
Knee to Groin
If they’re close to you, then grab them by the shoulders and put your weight in to throwing that knee. Don’t worry about hurting yourself or them, just GO FOR IT.
Move in to them
If someone grabs you from behind, don’t try to run away, instead throw your weight backwards in to them. This throws them off balance because they expect you to be pulling away and are braced for that.
Just reviewing these again reminds me that I need to take a class. Practicing these things helps them become more automatic if ever needed.
Runner Safety App
A great tip I learned from a friend during Ragnar is that you can actually share your location with another iPhone use for a set period of time! So you don’t want to be tracked all the time, share it when you leave for your run.
Another option is the app Red Panic Button, it allows you to send a distress message to a preset list of emergency contacts revealing GPS location. The one I think I’m adding to my gift list is the Nimb ring which you can wear anytime because it’s beautiful, but a quick press gets you help.
Any safety tips you’d add to the list?
Do you get nervous to run alone?
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