Do you look after yourself when you run? Most runners spend a lot of money on good shoes, wear comfortable workout clothes, use heart rate monitors and sports watches, and of course watch what they eat. But, how many runners or walkers think about personal safety when they are on the trail or track?
The truth is that running alone can make you an easy target for criminals – this is especially true for women. Whether you are on a quiet street, on a trail, or running in a park it is easy to find yourself in an isolated area, and in a situation you do not know how to handle.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to make yourself safer. First and foremost, you need to think about where you go for your runs or walks. Are you running through quiet areas, places where you could be attacked with no one around to see or help? Prevention is always the best strategy, so think about where you go – and when – to reduce the danger.
Another strategy that instantly makes you safer is to run with a partner or even in a group. With the vast majority of attacks on those who are alone, running with someone else is one of the simplest ways to be safer.
What else can you do? Experts say that attackers choose victims who look weak or easy – this is not just about size, it’s about your body language, the image you protect. They are looking for someone who won’t give them trouble, so if you can project a message that you are strong and confident, you will deter many would be attackers.
Of course, one of the best ways to project toughness is to actually feel tough! If you have studied martial arts – judo, karate, etc – or taken a self-defense course, you will feel and therefore act more confident and less like a victim.
There are various other steps you can take, each of which will increase your safety.
8 Tips To Running Safely
- Do not wear headphones: It’s important to be aware of what is happening around you. If you can’t hear an attacker coming they can sneak up on you, gain the element of surprise. Even though you don’t want to be tense and worried the whole time you run, it is still important to tune in and be aware of what – and who – is around you.
- Do not wear jewelry: Avoid wearing jewelry or watches that will attract attention or tempt robbers.
- Prepare: Without being paranoid, it is nonetheless a good idea to think in advance what you might do if you are attacked. Self defense classes will help with this, but simply knowing what you will do – scream, shout, kick, run – will make you much safer if an incident does occur.
- Carry mace: you will need to check with your local police department to find out what is permitted in your area, but if you are attacked, mace or pepper spray can be a very good way to avoid a situation turning unpleasant.
- Carry a whistle: Being able to attract attention quickly will often scare of an attacker in the early stages and avoid injury.
- Make eye contact: A big element of body language is eye contact – strong eye contact projects strength and confidence. Unfortunately, the usual response when a man approaches a woman is to look away or look down – this projects weakness and makes you more likely to be a victim. Make brief, but clear eye contact and you will deter many attackers.
- Be aware: Tune in to your feelings. If a situation or location feels dangerous or unsafe, change direction. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Run with a dog: Finally, consider running with a dog. One of the best deterrents from crime is a big dog that runs with you – few people will risk attacking someone with a dog. In addition, dogs are great company on a walk or run, and having a dog that runs with you makes it much less likely that you will skip your workout! Some of the most effective breeds include German Shepherds, Rottweiler’s, Belgian Malinois and Doberman Pinscher.
Ultimately, you can avoid most risky situations by thinking things through before you get anywhere near danger. Running and walking are great forms of exercise, so be smart, and do not let fear keep you from doing what you want to do.