With the weather warming and longer daylight in most parts of the country, Spring is in the air! This is the time of year when a lot of us break out our tennis shoes and go for evening walks or morning jogs. While it may be tempting to zone out as you are hiking up a wooded trail or turn up your ear buds as you are hammering down the street- this mindless state can leave your safety compromised. Keep yourself running, happy and secure with these tips from our experts.
Running in pairs is the ideal way to avoid being a victim. However, if you prefer to run alone there are several simple precautions you can take to reduce the odds of you becoming a target.
· Keep one ear out when listening to your iTunes. This allows you to hear someone approaching you at a rapid pace and keeps you more attuned to your surroundings.
· Wear Kuba-Kickz in your running shoes. These simple, light weight items fit comfortably under the laces of your favorite shoes and are extremely effective if you need to kick an attacker and escape. I have a pair in my tennis shoes and don’t even notice they are there. And best of all, they keep your hands free while still protecting you.
· Always let someone know where you are going to be running and how long you expect to be there. If you are gone any longer than expected, emergency assistance can be sent to your location. We also found 3 cool safety apps that you can use to let people know where you are when you go out alone.
· If you are attacked by an individual, lie lie lie! You’ve read this in many of my other safety tips, but that is because it is a life saver. Tell the attacker that you have HIV. Tell the attacker that your husband is the Chief of Police. Tell the attacker anything that might make them think twice before assaulting you.
Danger: Dogs (or wild animals if you run trails)
There are few things more disconcerting to a runner than coming “face-to-snout” with a growling or chasing off-leash dog. I have actually had dogs nipping at my heels as I was jogging down the street in my own neighborhood.
The best thing to do if you see a dog engaging is to stop running. This goes against your natural instinct, but if you stop running, make yourself “large”, make your voice deep and guttural, looking the dog square in the eye- you are telling the dog that “I am not afraid!”. Most often, this will stop a dog in his tracks. We also recommend carrying a Quick Release Keychain Pepper Spray to use for protection. It is non-lethal and safe to both animals and humans.
If you are running the trails it is best to carry a pepper spray or animal repellent while you run in case you are approached by a wild/rabid dog or other wild animal such as bear, mountain lion, etc. Any of the key chain pepper sprays are convenient to attach somewhere on your body that doesn’t restrict your running. There’s also a really cool jogging model pepper spray sleeve that fits right over your hand so you don’t have to grip the pepper spray the entire time you are exercising outdoors.
Now, more than ever, drivers are distracted with smartphones, texting and many more things while they are driving. We suggest running on off-road trails or in parks. It is much safer and the bonus is that its’ easier on your knees than asphalt.
If you do stick to the streets, always run on the left side of the road- towards oncoming traffic. If the driver doesn’t see you, you’ll definitely see the driver. During low light hours (in the early morning and evening) wear reflective clothing accessories to make yourself more visible to drivers.
Spring is in the air and we all want to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather. Let’s do it safely!