Running is a great year-round workout for the mind and body, but it sometimes comes with a hefty safety price:
- Research indicates that about one-third of runners are afraid to run, bike, walk or hike alone outdoors.
- Winter’s fewer hours of light means a drastic change of running routine for many; about 60% of runners shortened their running routines, limiting them to daylight hours or stopping altogether.
- A quarter of runners survey feel increased fear and anxiety after hearing about assaults on runners, regardless of where the incidents occurred.
Any exercise conducted outdoors merits additional caution and safety, but it shouldn’t create a fear factor that changes your lifestyle.
12 ways to play it safer when you step outside
Consider the weather
Check your local TV station or weather app for up-to-date weather conditions before heading out. A blue sky at 7 a.m. can turn dark, rainy and ugly an hour later when you’re miles from home or shelter.
A workout is a reflection of you
Don’t assume drivers or other runners or cyclists can see you. Wear reflective workout gear, a vest or use reflective tape to stand out against a dark or winter-white backdrop. Reflective hats and gloves serve a dual purpose: keeping your most vulnerable body parts warm and making you noticeable.
Know your route
New places are fun and challenging, but be aware of the route before you start out; map it out using a running app, or drive the route and note the landmarks. If you’re out after dark, you’ll easily find your way home. Avoid deserted streets, rural areas, and sparsely-populated locations. Maintain an awareness of where you can run for help if lost or threatened.
Let others know where you go
Inform a friend or family member when you leave for a run: where you’re going and when you expect to return. Or add an app such as Running Guru so your training session is live via GPS tracking. If you run into trouble, someone will have the ability to find you quickly.
See and be seen
Most smartphones have a small flashlight component for emergency use; carry a small flashlight or wear a miner’s style headband light to keep the road ahead in your sights.
Who are you?
Carry identification, such as your driver’s license, in a waterproof pocket or bag. Wear an ID tag or bracelet on your shoe, wrist or ankle, in the event you are injured and unable to communicate.
Make some noise
If you’re harassed or followed on a run, have a whistle handy and use it. Pepper spray is a useful defensive too, but remember to aim downwind at an attacker, rather than into the wind, or the spray winds up in your own eyes, nose, and mouth. Ignore the catcalls of strangers; don’t trade insults with anyone and don’t get close to an unfamiliar vehicle, even if the driver claims to know you. Stay tuned to your surroundings; never run with earbuds or with music on so loud it drowns out the sound around you.
Train for the terrain
If you’re typically a flat-surface runner, you’ll find running on wet snow, slick mud or uneven ice a challenge. Get down to ground level and practice walking on different surfaces before you begin running, to avoid injury that can leave you stranded for hours.
Directional dilemma: with or against traffic
When you run, you run against traffic to provide maximum visibility for yourself and drivers. State laws require cyclists and drivers to share the road and both travel in the same direction, as well as follow additional rules of the road that vehicles must follow, such as hand signals and stopping at stop signs and traffic signals.
Be out there with a buddy
Aside from good conversation (or sharing complaints) about your workout, you literally watch each other’s backs and keep one another safe.
Change it up and go with confidence
Vary your exercise routine to decrease the chance of assaults. Look up and forward when moving; acknowledge those around you with a nod and eye contact. This validates your vigilant stance and tells the world you’re not a vulnerable target.
If you see it, say something
Trust your intuition: if it looks or sounds suspicious, report it to police. You may save your own life or the lives of other runners.
Stay safe and prepared for your next competition or workout, no matter the weather. Omega Sports has all the gear you need to run, walk, bike and hike for all seasons and situations. Visit us online or in-store to see our full line of products and current promotions.