5 Safety Items Every Runner Should Know About
In some ways, I can’t believe I’m writing this blog post. But, then again, in other ways, I’m wondering what took me so long.
Last summer, there was a lot of news coverage on an unknown attacker on women on our trails in Austin. Even though that has ceased, it’s still important to be aware of your surroundings when you’re running, regardless of time of day or location. In the ~8-9 years of running in Austin, I’ve been lucky enough (sheesh, is that the phrasing?) to never come into a situation where I felt that I needed any of these items. But, with a scary encounter with a man last week, I feel it’s time that we need to address some concerns about runner safety. Even though I felt that I was “doing everything right,” it was still a situation that left me a bit shaken and disturbed.
Essential Safety Tips for Runners:
Don’t Run Alone
I’m 100% guilty of this one, and I understand that sometimes, the situation necessitates it. You don’t have friends that you can meet or your schedule is random. But, if you can, especially in darkly lit hours, avoid running alone.
Make Sure Someone Knows Where You Are
This could be as simple as letting someone know your route or as sophisticated as sharing a pin or using a tracking app. But it’s imperative that you are not the only person that knows where you are headed.
Carry Your Phone With You
As with all emergency situations, having your phone handy allows for you to call 911 immediately. Iphone users now have the benefit of a quick emergency button on their home screen, which dials 911 immediately. The added bonus, as stated above, is that it provides a tracking option to your exact location should something happen.
Don’t Run in Dark or Dimly Lit Areas
Even though I sometimes run alone in the morning, I make sure to pick routes that are well-lit, which allows me great awareness of my surroundings. Dark areas give predators areas to hide and surprise you.
Change Up Your Route
This is a big one that I hadn’t thought much about until recently. Even though I have favorite routes, switching it up ensures that you’re never consistently in the same area. You never know if someone has been watching.
Don’t Run with Headphones
I can’t stress this one enough. Headphones cause you to be completely unaware of your surroundings or any upcoming noises, especially if you’re cranking up the Britney in your ears. If you absolutely must run with music, only use one headphone or switch ears.
Trust Your Gut
When in doubt, change direction. Do you see someone ahead in the street that looks questionable? Turn. Don’t feel comfortable running through a certain area? Make a detour. Our gut has a way of providing a sixth sense regarding danger and we should listen to it.
Always Run With Protection
This lead me to my final point, but always carry something with you to defend yourself. The goal, of course, is to never have to use it, but it’s always better to be prepared than caught off guard.
5 Self Defense Items Every Runner Should Know About
I took a self-defense class in college (which I think is highly valuable!) and one of the main points that has stuck with me since there is this: Stun, then Run! The intent is NEVER, if possible, to engage your attacker. The best defense is to run and get yourself OUT of the situation. So, I picked the below products based on that exact mantra.
#1 - Pepper Spray
There are a variety of products available on the market right now that are runner friendly pepper sprays. The most important is that it should be small, convenient, and easy to use. Look for a spray that has a long self-life and a wide range.
#2 - Stun Gun
At first, these might seem a bit intimidating, but the quickest way to get away from an attacker is to stun. Unlike pepper spray, which could potentially blow back at you, the stun option is quick and pointed. Again, you want to pick an easy to carry option. Most companies make a small, portable option for easy carrying.
#3 - Personal Alarms
Afraid to use something to hurt someone? Another handy option is a personal alarm. These all make various loud noises and sirens to scare your attacker and bring attention to the situation. The best part is some of these personal alarms have a hidden “off” button so that they cannot be easily disabled.
#4 - Go Guarded Defense Ring
As I mentioned before, the intention is always to STUN, then RUN. This ring was created by a woman, who knew that most women, when attacked, would use their hands. This ring slips onto almost any hand and super easy to run with. Obviously, it’s a sharp tiny little blade, but it’s serrated edges are mean to also collect DNA should that ever be an issue.
#5 - Personal Reflective Lights
This last one goes almost without saying, but, BE VISIBLE. Whether it’s to be seen by a car or another person, having lights on your body when it’s less than optimal lighting can be the difference between safe and disaster. Many of these lights attach to your body or your shoes, so you don’t have to worry about having your hands full while running.
Do you have a personal protection item that you like? Share it below!
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