Stay Safe Without Losing the Fun of the Run
Running solo in a big city is exhilarating with endless route options and sights to be seen, but can also be particularly dangerous. Think of the number of routine things runners do that put their safety in jeopardy: tuning out street noise with music, “zoning out” mentally, running in predawn darkness, savoring the solitude of the unbeaten path.
Personally, I typically feel I have my safety in mind, but you can’t get enough advice, and a refresher is helpful to drill it into your mentality. The more you can do to prevent things on the font end, the less you delve into the continuum.
Here are a few small actions you can take, and the more you do these, the quicker they will become habit and soon you will be operating – without thinking about it – as a safer runner:
Keep Music Low
If you run with headphones, keep the volume low enough that you can hear what’s going on around you. It should be background music, not loud enough to drown out your real surroundings. I like to just keep one earbud in, the other tucked in my waistband or sports bra strap, so I can really hear both the music/podcast and the cars and people around me.
Every 10 minutes or so, do a head-check. Avoid staring at your phone/watch or completely zoning out and take a glance behind and around you. Simply notice passersby, and they will notice you are paying attention.
Don’t be Afraid of Offending Someone
Cross the street or turn in a different direction if you get a weird feeling about an individual or group. We often ignore our gut in order to not offend, but it’s not worth it. Take a side street, double back or cross over to the other sidewalk if you feel uncomfortable with what or who is up ahead.
Run in the Light
This goes for more than daylight hours (which is tough in the winter!). Stay on streets that are well lit and avoid desolate areas like parks and alleys especially when it’s dark out. While you don’t need to run down only busy streets, you want enough activity and houses nearby, so if someone confronts you, you will be seen or can go up on the closest porch for help.
Avoid Wearing Hooded Shirts
Opt for a hat over anything with a hood. Someone can easily grab your hood and throw you to the ground or worse.
Change Your Routine
Don’t cringe – I know routine is everything to a runner – but if you do the exact same route at the same time every run, that information may be picked up by the wrong person. Running your route backwards, switching courses throughout the week or running in the evening some days and mornings others, are feasible ways to avoid being super predictable, yet still enjoy a run. Plus, a new route can also get you out of a rut!
Another tip that goes beyond running, is taking a self-defense class. Many martial arts or kickboxing studios offer them, but also check your local community center calendar for free classes. Self-defense isn’t just about mastering the moves, it’s about reacting quickly and purposefully to get out of a bad situation.
Taking these tips into account will help prevent a dangerous event, and self-defense classes will help you if they do arise.No one wants to feel scared to go for a run; these tips are to create awareness, not fear. Run smart, run safe, run happy!