Women’s running safety: are you at risk?
I want to get a bit serious today, with a topic that will be close to many of your hearts: women’s running safety.
I can think of several times where I’ve been out on a run and have felt uneasy about the guy in that car, or the dog roaming free in the park. I’ve even run alone at night, which seems pretty stupid, although I had told my roommates where I was going.
Luckily, I’ve never had to act to protect myself so far, but could I if I had to? How much danger are you really in as a female runner? While researching this post, I came across a terrible story which I hope can serve as good motivation for you all to try the safety tips below if you’re not already.
What are the dangers?
To protect yourself effectively, you need to know where threats to your safety could come from.
I immediately think of the risk of being attacked by some low-life guy, and that’s definitely my worst case scenario.
Animals can be a threat, particularly if you like trail running and live in a country like Australia with lots of venomous creepy crawlies, or the USA and Canada where there are bears! I feel very fortunate that there is nothing lurking on the NZ trails that would harm me.
However, if you live in an urban area, there are bound to be dogs around. This is fine if they are on a leash and under the control of their owner, but they can be a big scary problem if they’re not. In fact, when I talk with other female runners about safety issues, problems with dogs comes up over and over again.
Another danger, particularly in urban areas, is traffic. If you’re not paying attention, it’s very easy to get hit by a car. I nearly got hit the other week by a lady reversing out of her driveway, so you can’t assume you’re safe on the footpath either.
Don’t be put off!
There are many steps you can take to keep yourself safe and run to your heart’s content.
Tips for any time of day
- Just because it’s light does not mean you are safe. You still need to be vigilant for dogs and creeps.
- Change your route regularly. This will stop any potential stalkers, and you might discover some cool new runs along the way. Win!
- Invest in a self defence course: learn how to fight back.
- If you’re running on the roads, don’t use earphones. They will distract you from your surroundings, particularly traffic.
- Run against the traffic. That way you’ll be harder to follow, and you’ll know exactly what traffic is coming towards you, making it easier to avoid.
- Carry pepper spray or a whistle. You can use these to deter both dogs and potential attackers.
- While strange dogs can be threats, your own dog can be your best protector. Take them out with you and they will love you forever. Or borrow a friend’s dog: you’ll be doing them a huge favor.
Tips for night runners
- Invest in some reflective clothing to help cars see you (I particularly like the new neon pink hi-viz stuff, and the pretty reflective patterns that have started to appear on some running shirts).
- Use a head torch.
- Let someone know your plans. This is getting easier and easier with multiple apps available, such as Glympse.
- Don’t go alone!
- Stick to areas where other people are around.
So there you go girls, next time you head out that door, keep yourself safe. If you’ve got any other tips you use, or would like to share your thoughts, please leave me a comment.
Your running buddy,
image 1 by Henrique Pinto, CC 2.0, https://flic.kr/p/9fw1ju, image 2 by Matthew, CC 2.0, https://flic.kr/p/nKLJ1y, image 3 by John Lemiux, CC 2.0, https://flic.kr/p/bQaAMM