"You should have a healthy sense of paranoia."
The meeting was not about Running but it got me thinking. I talk a lot about "autopilot" and "Zen running," but I do have my wits about me always. I am not "Paranoid" but I am VERY VERY aware of my surroundings.
-Tree branch, will it fall on me?
-Stay out of the way of bikers
-Put a hand up at the car to make sure he/she sees me before I cross
-Why is that guy sitting there?
-I don't have a good feeling, turn around..
You should always follow your gut, if you don't feel good about something, there is probably a reason.. As a 6'0 female I admit I have a unhealthy sense of safety.. it would be tough to stuff me in a trunk... BUT... I follow the safety rules as we all should. I did a quick Google Search on "Runner Safety," rather than re-inventing the wheel I will summarize the best tips. I did create the lovely logo for your enjoyment.
Before You Leave
- Plan your outing.
- Always tell someone where you are going and when you will return. Inform friends and family of your favorite exercise routes.
- Know where telephones are located along the route or carry a cell phone.
- Wear an identification tag or carry a driver's license. If you don't have a place to carry your ID, write your name, phone number, and blood type on the inside of your athletic shoe. Include any medical information.
- Wear reflective material.
- Dress for the elements.
On the Road
- Stay alert at all times. The more aware you are, the less vulnerable you are.
- Run on sidewalks where available as required by law.
- Run on the left side of the road facing traffic. You will be in a better position to anticipate and react to vehicles.
- Run on roads with wide shoulders.
- Be cautious on blind curves where you will not be visible to approaching cars.
- Be aware of factors that affect motorist visibility - glaring sun, rain, snow, fog.
- Run single file when running in a group - particularly in high traffic areas.
- Anticipate potentially dangerous situations and be ready to deal with them. Always make the first move to protect yourself. Do not expect cars to alter their paths to avoid you.
- Yield the right-of-way to vehicles at intersections. Drivers may not heed traffic signals or signs.
- Obey traffic rules and signals. Runners, as pedestrians, are bound by traffic laws.
- Run or walk with a partner and/or a dog.
- Don't wear headsets (TM added: or wear just one ear bud). If you wear them you won't hear an approaching car or attacker. Listen to your surroundings.
- Consider carrying a cellular phone.
- Exercise in familiar areas. Know which businesses or stores are open.
- Vary your route.
- Avoid unpopulated areas, deserted streets, and overgrown trails. Especially avoid poorly lighted areas at night.
- Run clear of parked cars or bushes.
- Ignore verbal harassment. Use discretion in acknowledging strangers. Look directly at others and be observant, but keep your distance and keep moving.
- Trust your intuition about a person or an area. React based on that intuition and avoid areas you feel unsure about.
- Be careful if anyone in a car asks you for directions - if you answer, keep at least a full arm's length from the car.
- If you think you are being followed, change direction and head for an open business, or a lighted house.
- Carry a noisemaker, pepper spray or the like. Get training in self-defense.
- Have your door key ready before you reach your car or home.
- Call police immediately if something happens to you or someone else, or you notice anyone out of the ordinary. It is also a good idea to check with police about any criminal activity in the area you plan to run.
Sometimes runners and walkers get lulled into a "zone" where they are so focused on their exercise they lose track of what's going on around them. This state can make runners and walkers more vulnerable to attack. Walk and run with confidence and purpose. If you get bored running without music, practice identifying characteristics of strangers and memorizing license plate numbers to keep you from "zoning" out.
Away From Home/Traveling
- Check with the hotel staff or concierge to find safe routes for exercise. If there is not an acceptable place to exercise outdoors, see if the hotel can arrange for you to go to a health club or gym.
- Become familiar with your exercise course before you start. Get a map and study it.
- Do research on the local running routes, call the local running store for more information.
- Remember the street address of the hotel. Carry a card with your hotel address along with your identification.
- Leave your room key with the front desk.
- Follow your usual safety rules.