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Runners don’t be an easy target!

Runners don’t be an easy target!

Ultra runners are known to run at odd hours of the morning and night to get the required “minimum” mileage logged.

I signed up for a 300km non-stop footrace through the desert. Training for this event will no doubt require long hours (and thousands of kilometers) on the road or trails and many would be done solo. At the moment I am gathering as much information on how to best prepare for this grueling massive desert shuffle.  I watched a few movies about ultra runners running insane distances through the desert and in one documentary they’ve shared an incident of one female runner being attacked by a stranger during the race! That particular scene really shocked me and it was on my mind for days.

As a woman, I worry about my safety especially on long solo runs. I keep reassuring myself that I am safe on the road but the truth is we live in a world where things happen!  Let’s face it, we are never totally safe. We do what we need to do to minimize risk, then we go on living, unafraid.

Below are 10 tried and tested common sense rules I am constantly reminding myself of when heading out the door:

  1. Change your daily routine – Don’t be predictable by running the same route or at the same time everyday, STALKERS will notice!
  2. Tell someone where you will be running and how long you will be – If you are not back by a certain time someone will come looking for you. Telling someone where you will be running also allows you to commit to that route as its sometimes easy to change your route when you feel like “running free”.
  3. Always know where you are and where you can run for help. Run in places that you are familiar with – looking confused and lost makes for an easy target. Save exploration of new trails for an afternoon hike with a group. When running alone, be sure you can sprint to a house or busy road. Also, if you experience an unexpected injury you will be glad that you don’t have far to go to find help.
  4. Don’t run alone (especially in the dark) – I know this is easier said than done. Most runners would argue they need to run either very early in the morning or later at night to get the mileage in, but there are ways to ensure that you don’t run alone. Get a running buddy or run with your running club or perhaps even consider running with a dog. Alternatively, run on a treadmill.
  5. Wear reflective clothing and carry some form of protection – make yourself visible to other people and carry a whistle (or pepper spray). Also consider taking some self-defense classes.
  6. Let go of the music – Don’t be distracted, you need to be completely aware of your surroundings at all times! You need all your senses, especially running on busy roads. More so at night, when it is dark. If you dull your senses, you are less effective in the case of a surprise attack. If you must run with music, only use one earpiece, and switch ears during your run.
  7. Carry a cellphone – Having your phone with you will ensure you can get help right away. A few months ago I decided to change from morning runs to late afternoon/evening runs. I know my routes and knew I would be home before dark. I don’t usually run with my phone but that evening I did. Halfway through my run I started to struggle with my breathing and soon after that I was not able to see properly. I was forced to a slow walk as my whole body was itching and I could feel that my face swelling up. I did not want to talk to anyone on the road so kept walking. I was about 4km from my house and found myself alone in a very dark street (I never realised that specific street did not have street lights) and immediately called my husband to come pick me up. Later turned out that I suffered an allergic reaction to nuts! Lesson learnt – I will never run without my phone again.
  8. Watch what you post – If you post your daily running stats be vague about your location.
  9. Don’t stop to give directions to cars – Stay well clear of parked cars on lonely roads, cross the street or run the other way.
  10. Trust your gut – If someone looks shady to you, cross the street or go the other way. If something feels off, you are probably right.

Also review this very useful link about general runner safety tips relating to injuries, gear, hydration, traffic etc.

Do you run alone? How should female runners protect themselves especially on long solo runs – please share your runner safety tips with us.

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