After reading about recent attacks in Arlington and attending a security seminar at work yesterday, I’ve been thinking a lot about running safety. Plus, now that we’re into daylight savings time most of my running is done in complete darkness -- I can’t seem to escape the scary concept that someone might attack me when I’m running!
The thing is, besides taking a few basic common-sense precautions, there’s really not much you can do. I probably won’t stop running in the evenings, I probably will continue to listen to my ipod, and I wish I could find friends to run with every day…but so far no luck.
I tend to be oblivious, over-confident, and super-trusting, so the following list is just as much to remind me about safety as it is to inform you!
I’m not trying to freak anyone out here. I run in a safe place, and I trust that you have the common sense to avoid dangerous situations...but every now and then a reminder can be helpful.
Staying Safe When You're Running
Tell someone when and where you’re running. Even if you live alone, just text a friend and let them know your plans.
Wear light colors and/or reflective gear when running in the dark so cars and bicyclists can see you. (I’m much more concerned about a driver hitting me than a bad guy attacking me…it’s such a Catch-22! When it’s dark you can’t run on the trails, you have to run on the road. BUT then cars are much more likely to hit you when running on the road in the dark…sheesh.)
Beware of stopped cars waiting to make a right turn. Stop and wait until they make the turn, or run behind them.
Make eye contact with drivers. (One time I got hit by a car when running in broad daylight because the driver wasn’t paying attention and didn’t see me in the crosswalk, so now I always make sure drivers see me before I step in front of them.)
Don't stop to give directions strangers (walking or in cars) if you are running alone.
Get a Road ID and attach it to your shoe. Mer got me one of these as a slightly morbid but actually very thoughtful birthday gift.
If you must listen to an ipod (not recommended), keep the volume down so you can still hear what’s going on around you. You could also listen with just one earbud in.
Run on well-lit routes. Avoid side streets, quiet neighborhoods, and trails.
Don’t explore a new route in the dark.
Ignore jeers and verbal harassment. Keep moving.
Vary your routes and times. Potential attackers can study runners' routines and loom in a particularly dark or isolated area. Don't make yourself an easy target.
Whenever possible, run with a buddy. Or your dog.
Trust your intuition about a person or an area. React on your intuition and avoid a person or situation if you're unsure. If something tells you a situation is not "right", it isn't.
Anything I missed? Feel free to add your safety tips in the comments!