With gyms, pilates studios, crossfit boxes and dojos all closed in lockdown, many women have taken to running outdoors as a way to stay fit and active. Many more amazing women run regularly anyway! Whichever category you fall into, the ability to run outdoors even in lockdown has been a health and wellbeing savior to anyone not in quarantine.
Women running alone carry a certain level of risk however, as they are vulnerable targets to predators. If you’re a woman, you have probably heard it a million times; “Never run alone, it’s a scary world out there for a woman.”
On one hand, we resent this advice… it seems to take feminism back 50 years. We don’t want to tell women they can’t go running by themselves without a big strong protector. Ladies should feel free to listen to the sound of their feet hitting a dark city street or feel the wind in their hair as they cruise alone down a secluded hiking track. On the other hand, we want these active ladies to live to enjoy running at a nice old age.
How do we find that balance for women? How do we keep the wonderful independence that you have found in running but help you stay safe at the same time? Ladies, we are not asking you to be frail and helpless, we are asking you to be sensible.
The harsh reality is that safety isn’t automatic just because you run in a safe neighborhood. Try to erase the “it-could-never-happen-to-me” attitude and take steps towards self-preservation and risk-aversion to reduce your vulnerability.
Here are 14 tips on how to enjoy running in the safest way possible:
1. Run with a partner when you can. There is safety in numbers
2. Run with a dog. The bigger the better!
3. Ditch the headphones or wear only one earbud and keep the volume low–you want to be able to hear trouble approaching
4. Carry a phone and identification in case of emergency
7. Wear reflective gear and a headlamp when running in the dark
8. Never ignore your instincts–ever. If you feel something isn’t right forget your normal route and take off for a busier area
9. Run in populated areas where there are other people and activities around you - Predators will typically only attack when nobody else is around
10. Be sure to vary your routes and the exact time you run alone, because you never know who is watching
11. Let someone know where you are and use GPS tracking
12. No matter how confident you might look and feel, be aware of your surroundings
13. Learn and nail some physical self defence maneuvers
14. If the worst-case scenario does occur and you are attacked, don’t fight fair. Give it all you’ve got with every ounce of vigor and tenacity you’ve got to attack back and RUN AWAY. Fortunately, you are well trained in the running bit at least, so be sure to use it to get home safely.
For us COBRA runners, male and female, every run is a gift and we believe strong, independent women runners are also safe runners. Enjoy every step, just do it safely! Count your blessings and be safe out there.