As National Running Safety Month continues, the SABRE
team is committed to sharing safety tips and advice throughout the month of November. Today, runner, triathlete and marathon coach Jesica D’Avanza from runladylike.com
is sharing 9 running safety tips.
National Running Safety Month: 9 Running Safety Tips
When I think about running, there are many things that come to mind: Long runs that start before sunrise. Track sessions. Coffee with friends after a tough workout. The joy of getting a new pair of shoes. The wind against your face. The profound feeling of crossing a finish line. Personal safety.
Wait, personal safety? Yes, staying safe while running is something that is constantly on my mind. Two years ago, my good friend and training partner was out for a 10-mile run on a Saturday morning when she was attacked.
“I heard footsteps behind me. As runner’s instinct, I moved to the right assuming it was just someone running faster than me who needed to pass me. But as I turned around, I noticed a 250-pound man running full speed right at me. He held onto me, grabbed my breasts and rubbed my body. I screamed for help and tried to fight him off, but he had me in a bear hug-type hold and I couldn’t move. After what seemed like forever, he let go and ran off. I immediately called 911.”
Luckily, the neighborhood where my friend was running had just installed neighborhood watch cameras, and her attacker’s photo was caught on camera. He was arrested several days later and was sentenced to prison earlier this year after committing numerous assaults.
November is National Running Safety Month. Although we runners spend a lot of time talking about gear, nutrition, fueling strategies, pacing and many other factors about the sport we love, safety is something we often don’t spend enough time focusing on. No matter where you run, here are 9 tips in honor of National Running Safety Month.
1. Avoid running alone in the dark.
Running in the dark can be necessary due to work schedules or long training runs. But it can present dangers, such as an increased chance of tripping and hurting yourself on uneven pavement that’s hard to see, or an attacker hiding where you – and others – can’t see him. If your only option is to run before the sun comes up or after it sets, join a training group or find a running buddy who can run with you. Stick to routes that are well lighted and where more people and traffic are likely to travel. If that isn’t possible, do your run on a treadmill where you are safer.
2. Take a self-defense class.
Taking a self-defense class can help better prepare you if you encounter a dangerous situation while running. You will learn tips on how to react, how to use your “weapons” like personal pepper spray so they aren’t used against you and other helpful tactics that could help save your life. SABRE offers a Civilian Personal Safety Program
that can help you learn techniques for how to respond if you encounter an attack.
3. Be alert and have a plan.
My friend who was attacked was not running in the dark or on a trail. She was running in the morning in a neighborhood she was familiar with. This means that we always need to be aware of our surroundings and have a plan for what we might do if we are faced with a dangerous situation. Glance around you and behind you often. Be cautious at intersections, near parking lots, in neighborhoods, by large bushes or other large structures, etc. Cross to the other side of the street in advance of reaching a person or obstacle in the distance that looks unusual. Be aware of your surroundings and focus on what is happening around you. This may mean not listening to music while running or only having one ear bud in so you can focus, hear and be more alert.
4. Be visible.
To help ensure cars and other vehicles see you while you’re running, wear bright colored clothes, a reflective vest and/or blinking lights so cars can identify you at night and during low-light hours like dusk and dawn. Wear knuckle lights or a headlamp when running in darker conditions to avoid tripping and falling.
5. Run against traffic.
If you’re running next to a road or on a road without a sidewalk, be sure to run on the opposite side of the road against traffic so you can see cars coming toward you.
6. Carry your cell phone with you.
You never know what might happen when you are out running. You could fall. You could have severe cramps. You could encounter a situation like my running partner. If you have a phone with you, you can quickly call a loved one or friend for help or 911. Be sure to conceal your phone when possible so you are a less likely target for theft.
7. Run with your personal information.
In case something happens to you while you’re running, it’s important to have your personal information with you so people know who you are and who to call for help. I love the Road I.D. Shoe Tag, which you can customize with your information and emergency contact and attach onto your shoe.
8. Always tell someone where you’re going.
Before you leave your house for a run, tell a friend or loved one where you’re going and when they should expect you back. By having an idea of the route you’re going to stick to and how long it will take you, they can look for you if something happens or you don’t come back when expected.
9. Carry personal safety products.
Consider bringing some “weapons” or personal safety products with you while running to help protect you if you encounter a dangerous situation. SABRE offers some great options, such as personal self-defense sprays for athletes (like this one for runners
and this one for cyclists
) and personal alarms
that make a very
loud noise to hopefully scare potential attackers away from the attention.
Have you ever found yourself in a dangerous situation while running? Do you run with self-defense pepper spray or a personal alarm? What other running safety tips would you add to this list in honor of National Running Safety Month? Jesica D’Avanza is a communications professional, writer and the blogger behind runladylike.com. As a runner, triathlete and coach, she’s on a mission to find her extraordinary and inspire others to do the same. On her blog – appropriately named by combining the words “run” and “unladylike” – she shares her uncensored and unladylike adventures of running and triathlon training. Jesica lives in Atlanta and has completed eight marathons, eight half marathons and numerous triathlons, including two half iron distance races. Jesica is also a certified marathon coach. In her day job, she serves as vice president of marketing communications for the nation’s largest nonprofit organization that fights muscle disease. You can also follow her adventures on Twitter (@rUnladylike), Instagram (@runladylike) and Facebook.