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Safety concerns for female runners in urban area

24 Apr, 2019 • by Admin

Safety is a concern for all runners, but it is of special importance for women runners.

Running in the heart of a metropolitan city can be a lot different than running in a quiet neighborhood or on a trail. The scenery can be an obstacle in its own right, and there are potential dangers that lurk literally around every corner. Fortunately, if you know how to navigate them, running in the city can be a great way to stay in shape.

Find a running buddy

As the saying goes, there’s safety in numbers—not to mention that having a running buddy can keep you accountable and make the time pass quicker. There are many national running clubs that can connect you with compatible runners. Whether you run solo or with others, vary your route often to make it harder to follow you, don’t share too much about where you run on public social media sites and always tell someone where you’re going.

Plot the Safest Route Possible

The city is a living, breathing place that’s filled with potential hazards for runners. So it’s doubly important that you plan out every aspect of your run before you go, instead of taking off on a whim.

Location isn’t the only thing that matters: consider the time of day you’re going to run, and try to avoid times with heavy pedestrian and car traffic. When there are fewer pedestrians walking around, you have fewer obstacles to dodge on the sidewalk.

When you plan out your run, consider running in the early morning, or after the evening rush hour when there are fewer cars and people on the road. Just make sure you still stick to areas with open visibility.

Take a self-defense class.

Knowing moves to use if someone follows you, grabs you, or threatens you can help you get away from a dangerous situation. After I was followed and made to feel uncomfortable, I signed up for a self-defense class the very next day and I stuck with it, and taekwondo, for two years. I hated the feeling of being so vulnerable and I wanted to have tools to use if I was ever caught in a situation where I might be fighting for my safety.

Finding a class is easier than you might think. Many local martial arts studios and running stores offer these classes for free. You can also find classes at a local college.

Change up your daily routine

If you run several days per week, it is easy to slip into a routine, running the same routes at the same time on the same days. This is dangerous because it gives anyone who might be seeking out a victim a way to know where you’re going to be alone on a given day.

If you run a counter-clockwise loop around your neighborhood, start switching the direction that you run every few days or so. Try running an hour earlier or later than you normally do and alternate starting times from day to day.

Carry a cell phone

Having the ability to call 911 at any moment is a great comfort and having your phone turned on allows someone to find you as well! Slip your cell phone in a plastic bag if you are concerned about it getting wet and put it in a running belt. Make sure you can pull it out easily.

Running with pepper spray

I don’t care if you can run a five-minute mile, you won’t be able to outrun your neighbor’s Chihuahua, let alone a ferocious mountain lion. Humans are not built to outrun predators; we are built to outsmart them, hence, the invention of pepper spray.

I’m not suggesting that every time you lace up for a run you need to tuck that can in your pocket. Heaven knows you probably won’t need it during your run at the high school track (though you may want to use it to fend sophomore and junior boys away from your daughter), but any time that you are planning to run alone in a secluded area that might contain wildlife, lone individuals or hiding places, take it along.

Dress in bright clothing.

Whether you run at day or night, you need to make yourself visible to drivers and other pedestrians. Wear brightly colored leggings, shorts, tops and compression socks to make yourself stand out from the pavement. If you run at night, you’ll also want to invest in a vest or other reflective clothing that will show up well against headlights.

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