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Running Safely


In light of recent events, it seems a prudent time to discuss safety for both female and male runners as the nights start to draw in.

My husband asked me last week whether I’ve ever felt threatened while running and when I thought about it, I realised that female runners are so used to the odd beep from a white van or shout out the window of a car that we are able to sort of block it out. We’ve got used to it.

 

I always run in lit areas, and if I ever feel unsafe, I turn off my earphones so that I have my wits about me. I don’t suppose those are things that he has to consider when he runs, I’m not sure he gets many people shouting ‘ALRIGHT DARLIN’?’, but yet it happens to me almost every time I run. I don’t even notice it anymore – but that doesn’t make it ok. 

A recent survey suggested that 46% of women said they had been harassed while they’ve been out running. I’m actually not someone who has carried any protection in case of an unexpected confrontation, but I will consider doing so now that the safety of women has been so tragically highlighted over the past few months.

 

I don’t agree that women should never go out running alone, if that’s the case then we really are in a poor place as a society. However, if there are small adjustments you can make to ensure that you get home safely, then why not do them? I’ve included a few ideas and tips of my own that I've shared below.

Running safety tips

Always try to run in lit areas. This seems like a no brainer, but even that short run through the park when it’s just teetering on the edge of darkness is probably unnecessary. I live very close to Epping Forest but would never run there after sunset or before sunrise, it’s just not worth the risk. 

Wear Hi-Vis clothing, whether it’s dark or not. If you wear something which you can easily be spotted in, other runners or passers-by will find it easier to spot you if you get into bother.  

If you feel you need to, take a defence tool with you. That could be a small pepper spray or a personal alarm, both of which are designed to make women feel safer. Many people say that they carry their keys in their hands so that they can be used as a weapon should the need arise. 

Lots of people aren’t aware of this, but if you wear a running watch there is a personal alarm which you can set off if you feel you need assistance. There are different ways to enable it on each watch, so check your manufacturers website to put yours on before your next run. 

All smart phones have emergency buttons which can be used without putting your phone to your ear. If you hold down the button on the right of your phone, it will ring the emergency services immediately. It’s worth checking how you could do this on your specific model or make, they do all have the capacity to do so. 

Don’t use your earbuds in a quiet area. They can make you less aware of your surroundings and therefore more vulnerable to people approaching from any angle. 

Let people know where you’re going. Even if you’re going out for a short jog after work, it’s a good idea to let at least one person know the route you’re planning to take. Strava have an excellent feature called Beacon, which is free with any Strava subscription and can send a GPS reading of where you are on your run. Invaluable in my opinion – I use it all the time. 

Don’t run the same route at the same time every day. Mix it up to make sure that people won’t be able to predict where you might be on a certain day. 

I hate that people have to take these measures in order to feel safe, but the simple fact is that there are bad people out there who look for opportunities to do awful things. Let’s not give them those chances, and let’s take every precaution we can do in order to stay safe. If nothing else, we can do it to show our respect to those who weren’t as lucky.

This blog post was contributed by Beth Henry.

Instagram: @bethhenry1989

 


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