Did you know that a whopping 69% of women do not feel safe when they go out for a run, and have adjusted their behaviour because of it? Even more startling 79% have stated being victims of harassment whilst out running (from cat calls to sexual assault) – and sadly 31% of us have stopped running altogether due to such safety concerns. *statistics taken from the Women’s Running National Running Survey 2021
I know; disturbing, isn’t it? Have you ever questioned your safety whilst out running? Or even before you head out?
If you have, no doubt you have also adjusted your behaviour, such as running routes we think are safer, and well lit up (or don’t run at night at all), we tend not to run alone, we cross the road or U-turn and double back on ourselves. 11% of us run with keys in our hands (like wolverine), fake phone-calls to our friends.
Sadly, we have become accustomed to change our behaviour because that is what we’ve always done; its easier to accept a loss of freedom than to try to take on the world, to effect change. If you would like to know more there is a campaign to help keep safe.
#WEWILL is focused of the positive actions men and women can take to enable to run free from fear, be and feel safe every mile.
Whilst these amazing campaigns help to fight for your protection, (you can join them too here) there are also actions you can take to help keep yourself safe whilst running outdoors, trail or road, long of short; keep these in mind:
Wearing headphones make you significantly less aware of your surroundings, so if you’re worried; ditch the headphones. Choose their use wisely, but if, like me, you can’t go without them consider ‘Aftershokz’ the speakers wrap around your ears instead of the in-ear – so you can still hear the environment your running in. Take note who is around you, and common sense; avoid car parks and poorly lit areas.
Running in the daylight hours is favourable for many reasons, but for night-time running, avoid darker areas, wear bright, reflective clothing. A headtorch especially if you are running trails; sticking to areas and routes you’ve been before and so know are safe. – it also helps cars identify you as a runner.
Stay on the sidewalk whenever possible. And when that is not an option; run facing oncoming traffic. Never assume cars will stop for you, so get into the habit of giving way to them first. And finally obey all traffic signals and rules – stopping at a crossroads no matter what direction you’re heading.
Dress for the weather.
In the colder, winter months wear multiple lighter layers, hat, and gloves. Again always make sure they’re reflective and bright; and as previously stated, a headtorch wouldn’t go amiss either. In the summer, hotter weather bring extra water with you, light clothing and bright colours to help reflect the sunlight.
Look out for dogs.
This happened to me recently where the dog zigged. I zagged. And then the dog zagged, and I fell over him. I found it funny, but the owner was horrified so just be aware; dogs sometimes get excited and think you’re something to chase. Especially amongst the trail routes there’s often dogs who aren’t on leads, be mindful and give a courtesy shout before you bolt passed them.
Only go where its safe.
I know the same routes get boring, and running them in reverse is often just plain weird so if you need to wander into new areas then you can always walk it with a friend or dog before running it. So you’re aware what paths feels safe. Hey even bring that friend for a run with you (or the dog).
Take your phone with you.
A bit of common sense here, call if your in trouble, a light, GPS tracking, maps if you’re lost. Even play music if you’re ditching the headphones. And personally, I HAVE to recommend the Freetrain hands-free phone holding vest, PERFECT for the task.
Previously mentioned 11% of us carry keys god-forbid, There’s also hand-held pepper spray, or a safety whistle to attract attention options – this is really down to your personal preference.
There’s also considerations for sun protection; sun-screen, glasses and cap with a visor if it’s particularly hot. Vaseline and woollen socks and gloves to keep the cold at bay.
The final word on protection; Mosquito repellent!
Two is never too many.
Running with a friend is a great safety option. Although if your new to an area, or you are looking to explore running more as a sport (or socially) consider joining a running club. With local meets and safety in numbers, you’re all set. Plus knowing people are waiting on you, makes you get out and run when motivation dips.
Some of my favourite routes have been discovered whilst out with a running club, they match your ability, speed and preferred training style, super friendly environment (with usually a stretch and drink afterwards).
I know this may sound like common sense, BUT we ALL tend to get complacent from time to time, especially when your training intensifies and fatigue kicks in. Running is simple, but with any activity there comes hazards to keep you on your toes. From negligent drivers on the road to unexpected, exposed tree roots (and bounding dogs) on the trails.
There are a number of risks that every level of runner must consider, so don’t fall prey to it. Run safe, run smart.