© copyright 30.May.2007 by Dena Harris.
Bound by the day job, most runners find the best time to hit the road and add mileage is during early morning or evening hours. While these runs conducted in semi-darkness provide a much welcome escape to the demands of daily life, they may also leave runners-especially solo female runners-vulnerable to attack. Runners lost in thought or grooving to tunes on their I-Pod unfortunately make all-too-easy targets.
The good news is that simple pre-planning can drastically reduce the chance of an attack. While there's no guarantee nothing will ever happen to you, adhering to the simple rules below will set you on the path to safety.
Running with a friend, group of friends, or even a large dog deters attacks. Cultivate friendships with other runners or join a local running group so you need never run alone.
Yes, music is motivating, but it's more important to remain aware of your surroundings and hear others approach. Use common sense and stick to high traffic or populated areas, avoiding alleyways, unlit paths, parked cars or vans, and even patches of bushes someone can hide behind. Run against traffic to observe the approach of cars and if a car cruises by you more than once, note the license plate number and run to a populated area or business and report to police.
Carry something with you that makes noise and will attract attention. A whistle around your neck is light and easy to carry. Consider holding mace or at least your car keys in your fist that you can use to jab eyes, ears, and throats. Taking a self-defense class is an excellent idea, especially if you know you'll often be running alone.
Leave the house at different times and vary your route. In addition to preventing attackers from knowing exactly where you'll be, you're providing better conditioning for your body by mixing up your routine. Plan your route ahead of time and stick to well-lit areas you're familiar with.
Before you leave for a run, make sure someone-family, friend, or neighbor-knows where you're going (the exact route) and when to expect you back. This is especially important if you're trail running in rural or remote areas. Wear reflective clothing and carry a cell phone and flashlight with you in case something happens.
If something doesn't feel right to you, get away. A car slowing to ask for directions or a fellow runner asking for help may be innocent, but it's better to appear rude and keep moving versus placing yourself in a vulnerable situation.
Taking precautions doesn't mean running can't remain your haven from the world. In fact, it means just the opposite. Your time on the road is your chance to regenerate and regroup. By paying attention to safety before you even leave the house, you're setting yourself up for the best of both worlds: a great-and safe-run.
Daily Runs is collection of motivational articles, tips & advice about the sport of running, written by authors who run for fun.
Writer and author Dena Harris ran her first marathon in 2007. After declaring at the finish line that she would "never, ever, do that again," she's continued to run at least two marathons a year and recently qualified to run Boston.
Visit www.denaharris.com for information on her writing, books, running, and cats.