It got me to thinking about the precautions women can - and should - take while running. There are, of course, precautions that men should take, too, but let's face it. The brutal truth is that women are more susceptible to violent attack, and we need to take steps in order to protect ourselves as much as we can.
Let's start with general safety:
- Carry ID - a driver's license fits easily in the pocket of most running shorts, or you can purchase a Road ID like the one I have (love!). They're inexpensive, easy to wear, and come in plenty of colors if you feel the need to match.
- Run Against the Flow of Traffic - even if you're running on the sidewalk, it's a good idea to be able to see the cars coming towards you. You never know if someone is texting while driving, or driving drunk. It's your life, don't take for granted the idiot in the speeding metal box sees you.
- Wear Reflective Gear - this one's pretty simple. If they can see you, it's less likely they'll hit you. Wear bright colors and items with reflective strips.
- Don't Run with Music - With the advent of the itsy bitsy teensy weensy music players, more and more runners are running with music. If you're one of those runners, make sure you can CLEARLY hear sounds over your music. The goal is to avoid accidents, not cause them. Be aware.
There are other "rules" that women should follow, in addition to the basics.
- Tell Someone - Let someone know where you're going and when you expect to be back.
- Alter Your Route - Don't run the same route every day. If there is some sicko out there watching you, you don't want him to know which bush to hide behind at 3:12 on a Tuesday.
- Get A Running Buddy - If you can, run with a friend.
- Trust Your Instincts - If you're paying attention, more than likely your "gut" will tell you who or what to stay away from. If something feels sketchy, run in a different direction. Slow to a walk. Speed up. Trust your instincts.
- Carry Mace - Consider something like this if you run at night or in remote areas.
- Learn Self Defense - Knowing how to fight off an attacker could save your life. But even if you have never taken a self defense class, there are things you can do to help yourself. Yell, kick, bite, do anything you can not to be taken anywhere. Scream as loudly as you can.
Running, for many of us, is an outlet for our stress. I didn't write this post intending to add more stress, just as a reminder to be aware. Be safe. Be well.