Strong, independent women are also safe runners. Enjoy running, just do it safely! Part of what helps women runners to stay confident is taking safety precautions. Risk aversion is the key here, not risk elimination which is impossible.
What it should ensure is that they have better, less stressful workouts by practising aversion. Here is our guide to practise risk aversion when running alone as a woman:
Avoid running at night and early in the morning where possible. Run in populated areas during the daytime if possible. Stay on well travelled and well-lit roads. Don’t take short cuts through woods, alleyways and poorly lit areas
If possible run with someone else, or with a dog
Always tell someone where you are going; create a check in system with a friend so they know that you’ve made it home safely. Carry your ID with you including ICE contacts.
Always carry your charged mobile phone with you while running. There are new safety apps with GPS tracking that will dial a friend/family member for you if needed with just one click.
Personal alarms. You can carry these on your keyring and they could save your life as a loud siren or alarm will make attackers think twice about continuing their attack.
Be calm and keep your senses alert, particularly your eyesight and hearing. If you can’t bear to run without your headphones on, then keep one earbud out at all times so that you can hear your surroundings. Don’t check your voicemail and text messages whilst running.
Running from home? Don’t post on FB either before or after your run with details that could enable a potential attacker to intercept you. Note that Strava settings give you the option to hide your home address and not to show a certain radius around your home.
Vary your routes. It is easy to slip into the routine of always doing the same runs at the same time on the same days. This makes it very easy for a potential attacker to know where you are going to be alone on a given day. So if you generally run the same counter-clockwise loop around your neighbourhood, then start switching the direction that you run every few days or so. Try varying your start times, so that sometimes you run earlier or later than normal.
Know where you are going. Looking lost and confused can make you a target.
Don’t be distracted. Perpetrators specifically look for people who aren’t 100% aware of their surroundings.
Body language while running is important. Perpetrators assess basic movements like stride length, speed, body weight distribution and arm swing – for signs of vulnerability. Good body posture shows a potential attacker that you are alert and confident. So try and run tall and relaxed, keeping your shoulders back and head held high, and make brief eye contact with people in your path.
Know that crime knows no boundaries or demographics. It doesn’t matter whether you’re running in a large city, safe neighbourhood or in a rural area; predators are everywhere. It’s not about being paranoid; it’s about being smart, confident and empowered. It takes just 7 seconds for a perpetrator to select their next victim! A frightening fact, but one which is well documented. Their two biggest fears are getting hurt and being caught. This knowledge should empower you in the worst case scenario. Fight back and cause a scene. The perpetrator wants to commit the perfect crime and, in those few seconds, he assesses whether he runs an increased risk of getting hurt or caught by choosing you.
Take a self-defence class. This can enhance your awareness, and enable you to use your body as a weapon. The club hopes to fund several classes once life returns to normal.
Trust your gut feeling. If something or someone doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t.
Evasion techniques. If someone looks shady, then cross the street or go the other way. Don’t ignore your intuition! I t’s a natural fear when approached by someone with potentially bad intentions to freeze up. However as well as using your voice to tell them to “get away from me”, “get out of my space” etc, then shouting for help, and setting off your personal alarm if necessary; you can also adopt a wider stance and bend your knees, which makes it much more difficult for someone to push, pull or knock you to the ground.
Fight back. If you have been grabbed and can’t run away, then fighting back is another option. Know your weapons and your targets. Your hands, fingers and car keys can be used for eye-gouging. Your fists can be used to punch soft areas like the eyes, throat and groin; and your elbows and knees can be used for striking, and your feet for kicking. The soft areas of an attacker’s body are the best to target. See the links below for self-defence moves, personal alarms and GPS trackers: