The recent time change means it is getting darker much earlier. Many of us will find ourselves running in the dark after work. Here are a few tips, tricks and safety precautions to follow while running.
Be visual. Run against traffic so you can see cars coming toward you. Wear bright clothing so people will notice you. At night, wear reflective pieces on your clothing and shoes. Yes, you might feel ridiculous wearing a bright orange reflective vest, but, it’s better to reflect than regret.
Always carry identification. This may sound morbid, but if something does happen to you, you want to be quickly identified. If you don’t want to carry anything you can order an ID tag that ties right on your shoelaces. However, if you wear a medical ID bracelet during other activities, you really should wear it while running. If possible, invest in a running belt to hold your identification, health insurance card, and cell phone.
Be aware. If you are running outside alone, you need to rely on all five of your senses to keep you safe. Listening to music and/or not paying attention to your surroundings can be the difference between life and death. You won’t be able to hear someone coming up behind you—a person or a car. In addition, if someone sees you wearing headphones he may mark you as a potential victim. Finally, try to be aware of cracks in the road, rocks, or anything else in your path that could cause you to fall and hurt yourself.
Don’t appear vulnerable. Paying attention to your surroundings, holding your head high and staying strong can let someone know that you are not to be messed with. When someone yells something derogatory or makes a catcall ignore him and keep running. And, if someone tries to stop you, don’t show any fear. Instead, keep your voice strong and steady, tell them to stop it and do not stop running.
Watch out for drivers. Drivers don’t always pay attention. They talk on the phone, fiddle with the radio, light cigarettes and even put on makeup. Whenever possible you want to make sure that drivers can see you. For example, try to make eye contact at an intersection before you start your way through.
Share the path. Communicate with other runners and cyclists so you know which side you should pass on. Practice basic etiquette. Getting hit by a bicycle or having to dive off of a path can be unpleasant, painful, and really embarrassing.
Plan your route. When running alone it is vital that you always know where you are, you don’t want to get lost in a dangerous area. If you want to try a new running route, drive it first or better yet, run it with a group or a friend.
Use the buddy system. Someone else always needs to know where you are at all times. This means the exact route you are running, when you left and when you are expected to return home. Find a buddy who you can call and check in with. I call my sister before I leave the house; she knows that if I’m not back in my usual amount of time that something is wrong.
Vary your routes and times. This may sound contradictory, but you should have a few different routes to choose from, it may keep you from getting bored and more importantly if anyone noticed you one day you won’t be there for him to attack the next. Mix it up; just make sure your “alert buddy” knows which route you are running on which day.
Carry a cell phone. Whenever possible you should run with a cell phone. Make sure that it is on so you can be located by its GPS system. A cell phone lets other people see that you are not “alone” and will make them think twice about bothering you. If you get hurt a cell phone will let you call for help.
Wear a whistle. Buy a whistle and wear it around your neck. Not only will the screeching sound of a loudly blown whistle alert someone that you are in danger, it will hopefully surprise and scare away any attacker.
Wear layers. If you are running in the desert or mountains or any place where the climate can quickly change, you should wear layers. This way if you get lost or injured and have to wait for someone to come and help you, you will have some extra protection from the elements.
Tie your shoes. This may sound silly but make sure your shoes are tied so you don’t have to stop. If a stranger starts following you the last thing you want is to have to stop and tie your shoes. Also, untied shoes can cause you to trip, fall and hurt yourself.