In 2008 we moved to Northern Virginia from Naval Air Station China Lake which is located near the California Mojave desert. The environments could not have been more different. Not only were the landscape and climate opposites, the contrast in population was staggering. I went from living in the middle of nowhere to living in a densely populated suburb of Washington DC.
Runners often establish routine running routes, and going from the open dessert to rows and rows of tract houses– this was confusing to my mind. The trails in California were arid and open with no trees for miles, and the trails in Virginia were wooded, hilly, and full of dense trees. Let’s just say I got lost a time or two. It wasn’t pleasant. In fact, it was alarming.
My other concern about being out in an unfamiliar territory was the risk of running into predators, whether they be wild animals or bad hombres. I have been very fortunate in this department, but have heard too many stories to count from other running friends about being followed, and even approached by strangers.
Running safety is one of the first things you should consider when starting a new training plan or recreational running in a new location. I know it’s tough to think about the worst happening, and we shouldn’t dwell on those scenarios, but you will never regret being prepared and knowing what to do should something happen. Better to be safe than sorry, right?
Now that the days are shorter, it’s even more crucial that we prepare ourselves so that we relax as we go out and do the sport we love so much.
Here are some tips to keep you feeling confident on your next outdoor solo run:
1. Identify Yourself— I know it’s tough to think about, but having information on you should you pass out or become seriously injured is really one the best ways to practice self-care. With Road ID, you can easily have your emergency numbers and medical information attached to you to aid a first responder or passer-by. I have these for all of my kids, too. These simple shoe tags give me so much peace of mind.
2. Tell Someone— This is another golden rule. Always, always tell someone what route you are taking, how many miles you’re running, and how long you plan to be gone.
3. Keep it in the Hood— If I am going to be starting my run in the very early morning when it’s still dark, I do my first few miles within my neighborhood where I know who my neighbors are and feel relatively safe. As the sun rises and there is more light, I’ll venture out onto some of the more open streets. I do the opposite at night. I start on the open streets and end in my neighborhood.
4. Light the Way– Now that the days are shorter, it’s really important to wear reflective gear, flashing safety lights, head lamps, or knuckle lights.
5. Mace – Maybe you live in an area that you are unfamiliar with, or a city where safety can change from street to street. Whatever your scenario, it never hurts to bring a can of handheld Mace with you.
6. Make Some Noise– When I go out on the trails, not only do I need to be concerned with people, but also wild animals. I tuck a whistle under my shirt to have in case I am approached by a bear or mountain lion. Also, might not a bad idea if a person attacked you as well.
7. Smart Phone–Many of us bring our smartphones with us when we run. It’s not just for playing music or tracking our miles, most have a map if you get lost, and, obviously, a phone to be able to call for help if you get into trouble.
8. Extra Fuel– I always tuck an extra gel or chews in my pocket in case I get lost and have to run more miles than expected. If you ran into medical problems and had to stop and wait for someone to get you, it’s nice to have a little something to tide you over as well.
9. Gut Instinct— If something doesn’t feel right, then it’s probably not right. If I see a person or a street that gives me the creeps, then why take the chance? Do not proceed, get out of Dodge.
10. Medical— If you have a medical condition, not only should you have that information on your Road ID, but you might want to run with your medication should you need it in an emergency.
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11. Self-Defense— It doesn’t hurt to know and practice some basic self-defense tactics. Find a class in your area and educated yourself on how to escape a situation where someone is grabbing you. Never let them take you to that second location.
12. Hydration— If you are going on a longer run, establish a route where you know there will be water stops or bring your own handheld bottle. You don’t want to become dehydrated and if you are waiting for someone to help you, it’s a good idea to have water while you wait.
13. Plan On Distraction— Between, smartphones, traffic and general stress of life, drivers are more distracted than ever. Just assume they do not see you. Wear bright clothing, run facing traffic, and be on high alert when you might be in a possible blind spot.
14. Music Free— Wearing headphones and blasting the tunes when you run may pump you up, but it’s best to run without it or turn it down so that you can be completely aware of what is around you.
15. Change It Up— Predators rarely attack on the first try, they are more likely watch you and get to know what you do. Change up the time and route when you run.
16. Use Your Senses— If I am out on the trail or even the street and I hear and smell something different, it instantly gets my attention. Be aware of new smells, like an odd cologne or cigarette smoke. If it’s out of place, then get out of Dodge. Maybe you hear rustling in the bushes, try crossing the street or turning around. No need to be paranoid, but you do need to be vigilant.
17. Vibe— Don’t go out on your run with wimpy, victim like energy. Be bold, strong, and confident.
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“This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® & Road ID but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #roadid #RoadIDItsWhoIAm