While running continues to be a safe pursuit, I have heard stories of women who go out running and never come back. I have (stupidly) never really thought I’d fall into that category for a number of reasons: 1) I do a lot of my running on a Navy base, which is gated and requires base tags to get on; 2) when I am not on base, I run a neighborhood loop that is thought to be safe, and also on the main road of my city, which is heavily traveled; and 3) I have always thought of my small town as a safe place.
Yes, the word “naïve” has been used to describe me before.
This morning, I set out my door to get 6 miles in, my first “long run” of my training cycle. I just planned on going 3 miles away from my house and back.
At exactly 1.65 miles (yes, I looked) I was approached by a guy who got out of his friend’s Expedition.
Actually, I saw them cut through a parking lot, stop their car, and I saw the guy get out of the car and start walking up the sidewalk towards me. Thoughts started swimming through my head; for some reason, this didn’t feel normal, but I continued to run…it was on a main road, across from a very busy gas station, after all. As I got closer to the guy, I see his lips moving (I was wearing headphones) and I stopped to hear what he was saying. (I know, dumb).
He said he’s seen me running a lot (??!!!) and blah, blah, blah. Basically he was trying to get himself a date. I told him I was married, turned around, and high tailed it back to my house. I did have my phone on me and I texted my husband to tell him what happened; he actually met me about a quarter mile from where we live to see if I was OK.
Needless to say, I didn’t get my 6 miles in outside; I finished it up on the treadmill at the gym. Rule number one guys: don’t try to talk to a girl in the middle of her workout; it never turns out good.
So with all that said, I think it would be a perfect time to refresh our memories with a couple runner safety tips from the RRCA (Road Runners Club of America):
DON’T WEAR HEADPHONES. Use your ears to be aware of your surroundings. Your ears may help you avoid dangers your eyes may miss during evening or early morning runs.
Run against traffic so you can observe approaching automobiles. By facing on-coming traffic, you may be able to react quicker than if it is behind you.
Look both ways before crossing. Be sure the driver of a car acknowledges your right-of-way before crossing in front of a vehicle. Obey traffic signals.
Carry identification or write your name, phone number, and blood type on the inside sole of your running shoe. Include any medical information.
Always stay alert and aware of what’s going on around you. The more aware you are, the less vulnerable you are.
Carry a cell phone or change for a phone call. Know the locations of public phones along your regular route.
Trust your intuition about a person or an area. React on your intuition and avoid a person or situation if you’re unsure. If something tells you a situation is not “right”, it isn’t.
Alter or vary your running route pattern; run in familiar areas if possible. In unfamiliar areas, such as while traveling, contact a local RRCA club or running store. Know where open businesses or stores are located in case of emergency.
Run with a partner. Run with a dog.
Write down or leave word of the direction of your run. Tell friends and family of your favorite running routes.
Avoid unpopulated areas, deserted streets, and overgrown trails. Avoid unlit areas, especially at night. Run clear of parked cars or bushes.
Ignore verbal harassment and do not verbally harass others. Use discretion in acknowledging strangers. Look directly at others and be observant, but keep your distance and keep moving.
Wear reflective material if you must run before dawn or after dark. Avoid running on the street when it is dark.
Practice memorizing license tags or identifying characteristics of strangers.
Carry a noisemaker. Get training in self-defense.
When using multi-use trails, follow the rules of the road. If you alter your direction, look over your should before crossing the trail to avoid a potential collision with an oncoming cyclist or passing runner.
CALL POLICE IMMEDIATELY if something happens to you or someone else, or you notice anyone out of the ordinary. It is important to report incidents immediately