When I was in elementary school, one of my classmates was the victim of an abduction attempt. They brought in people to talk to us about the whole ordeal, and one of the things I took away from it was the fact that you can't "look" like a victim. That sounds like a funny thing to say. What does a victim look like? Realistically, what that means is that someone who is looking to cause trouble, would prefer an easy target, as opposed to someone who is going to be more difficult. Makes sense right? Why scale a wall when you can walk through a door? And I've really taken that to heart when it comes to running. It's a vulnerable sport, especially if you're a woman. The benefit of running is that you can do it anywhere, at any time. Which is also what makes it inherently unsafe.
So here are my tips and tricks for staying safe while you're out there doing your thing:
1) Don't run alone. I know, it's not always possible. I run alone a lot. But if you can, grab a running partner. And it doesn't have to be a person, per se. I bring Thatdog with me. Not that he's a fearsome attack dog, but he makes me a more difficult target. Same thing goes with running with a stroller. It's more to contend with. And obviously, if you do bring a friend, the buddy system is good not just for safety, but it's more fun!
2) Tell someone where you're going. Especially if you're running alone. I know some people who leave sync their computer and phone with a running/mapping app so the computer shows where they are at all times. Similarly, programs like "Map My Run" can be accessed from the computer and show where your most recent route is/was. As for me, I go old school. I tell Thatboy the route I'm taking, and when I expect to be back before I leave the house.
3) Vary your routes/times. Running the same route over and over again at the same time lets someone know when to expect you. Change it up! Be different! I have a couple of routes I run, and I alternate them, so I'm not always in the same place at the same time. Even if it's just running the same route backwards.
4) Keep your hair low or close. The girl in my class who was nearly abducted was grabbed by her ponytail. Which is one of the things the speaker talked to us about. Ponytails make you very easy to grab from behind. Which poses a conundrum, because most of us want our hair up and out of our faces while running. My solutions are to either do a low ponytail at the nape of my neck, so it lies flat against me, or a bun up high, which is less of a handle.
5) Be aware of your surroundings. Pretty basic advice, but it's easy to zone out when you run. When I run by myself, I only use a single earbud, with the music turned down, so I can hear things going on. And do visual scans, looking for anything that seems out of the ordinary.
6) Eye contact. Make eye contact with people you pass. It doesn't have to be anything big, or striking up conversations, but if you make eye contact, it's that whole "not a victim" thing. Makes you look less vulnerable than someone staring at the ground. Plus, then you have a heads up on identifying people, which makes you less attractive.
7) Bring a phone! I was talking to some friends about this yesterday. Some people hate running with their phones. I get it, phones are getting bigger and bigger. And they're clunky. But take it from someone who's sprained their ankle while out on a run, you want something with you in case anything happens.