Investing time and effort into a healthy workout routine is one of the best things you can do for your body. Most avid runners practice smart workout habits such as wearing the proper footwear, warming up, cooling down, utilizing cross-training during injury, and resting when needed.
There's another risk lurking out there for female runners other than injury. It's the possibility of being attacked. Although these cases seem very rare and we subsequently assume “it won’t happen to me," it’s always advisable to mitigate the risk.
I never thought twice about a safe running routine until I narrowly escaped being attacked during a run in high school. My routine at the time increased my risk. I ran through a isolated rural area at a predictable time everyday.
During one of my runs I noticed a car drive by, an oddity given the location. I blew it off. The following day I noticed the same car. The man drove past me and then turned around to follow me.
My parents frequently reminded me to "listen to your gut" which was highly relevant at this moment. Something felt very wrong.
The car slowed down behind me and I took off into the corn field beside me. The guy got out of his car but when he saw me sprinting like an olympian through the tall thick field he abandoned any plan of going after me.
It was the fastest I've ran in my entire life. I didn’t even pause to catch my breath until I made it home.
I was not shocked to see that man and vehicle description on the news; he was wanted for serial attacks on women. So although it may seem low on the worry totem pole, it's wise to adjust your running routine in order to lower your risk.
Here are seven tips to lower your risk:
- Run during daylight or in a well-lit area.
- Avoid running at the same time every day. Attackers often track your patterns and if you’re predictable their job is easy.
- Choose main roads. The best option is a busy road with a sidewalk where you can run separately from traffic.
- Mix up your route. It’s easy to get into a habit of running the same route (you can compare running times, you’ve mapped out the mileage, or you just enjoy the spot). It helps to randomly alternate between a few different paths.
- Don’t wear headphones, this increases awareness of your surroundings. (I still struggle with this one)
- Take a cell phone to call 911.
- Find a running buddy!
If you can incorporate 1-7, great. If not try to adopt as many safe running habits as possible. It’s best to be cautious and aware. Use my story as motivation, that’s why I put it out there. Most importantly: enjoy your run! The world can be a scary place but try not to let anxiety suck the joy out of a very healthy pastime.
Please share this with the runners in your life as an important reminder.
Stay healthy and safe!
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