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***None of the brands mentioned in this post are sponsored, nor did they pay to be mentioned in this blog. These are my preferences based on person use.***
With many gym still closed and social distancing in place, people are opting to run outside and stay close to home. In my 3 and a half years living in the hills of Mulholland, never have I seen more people running up here. In fact, before the Pandemic I could count how many runner’s I’ve encountered up here on one hand! I realized many people might be picking up running for the first time, or might not know general running safety tips, so I decided to write a blog about various tips randing from road running to stranger danger.
There is an ongoing debate about how one should run on the road. Maybe you’re like me and do not live in an area that has sidewalks, or you typically run in parks but now need to stay local. When it comes to running safely on the road, it is important to assess the lay of the land. Is the road windy or straight? Wide or narrow?
My running route is windy and narrow, each direction has one lane and it is debatable whether the white lines on the sides are for a bike lane. One thing about people running up here that has concerned me is witnessing people running against traffic. You should only run against traffic if the road is straight, and typically for busier roads. The reason why you should run with traffic on winding roads is for visibility. Let’s think this through, picture yourself as the driver: since the road is windy, you’re probably more attentive (but never assume) you are natrually hugging the turns and suddenly a person pops out of the curve coming towards you! Holy Sh*t – you almost hit them and partly because you were startled. Now picture the scenario of running with traffic on the windy road: You the driver are hugging the turns and you see a runner on the turn as well, you are given the opportunity to move over because nothing is popping up and startling you. Narrow roads are already stressful for both sides, make it safer for you both by going with the traffic instead of against it.
Now, if you are on a straight road, I advise the opposite. Straight roads tend to be a point of distraction for drivers or in very busy areas (the exception is in rural areas) there are very little surprises for these drivers, so you should assume they are not as alert. Though I used to be anti-sidewalk, I have been converted after having close encounters by angry drivers simply upset that I am not running on the sidewalk. If you do choose to run on the road, do so against traffic and stay alert especially when you are passing driveways because they will be looking for oncoming traffic!
Whether you are running before sunrise or close to sundown, or even on a narrow road where cars might not expect pedestrians, it is important to invest in reflective gear. I feel many opt out on investing in such gear because it looks tacky or dorky, but I couldn’t stress the importance of putting your own safety before looks. I have had two close freinds hit by cars while running/biking on the road, one survived but is forever changed, the other was not so fortunate. It shouldn’t have to take similar experiences to push you to wear such gear. My favorite go to is the Amphipod Xinglet vest and I even add flashing LED reflectors (this vest has a front and back slip for them). I am always confident cars can see me when I wear this, and don’t even notice the vest when I am running.
Vehicle theft is another topic I wanted to touchbase on. First, I wanted to address leaving keys “hidden” around your vehicle. Stop that. Everyone knows the hiding spots… you’re not being stealth, you are putting your personal belongings and your safety at risk. Carry your keys either in your hand, in a running belt (I use SPI Belt), or remove the key fob and attach it to your running shoe laces. I’ve also seen key locks you can attach to the car’s rims and slip your car keys in it with a special code. I personally have not used one of these, so I cannot make any recommendations.
For personal belongings left in the car, such as your wallet or phone, I love the Cobalt Crew seat cover because not only does it absorb your sweat after you run (and double as a towel), but it also has a hidden pocket to stash your precious belongings descreetly!
With social distancing in place (though it is now lessening), many runners are left running alone putting some in a vulnerable position. I could not emphasize any more the importance of not engaging with strangers. One time, long before social distancing, I was getting ready to run alone at a park I frequented at. As I was standing on the passenger side of my car collecting my running essentials, I noticed a man in my peripheral. At first, I thought I was being paranoid, but then I saw him gettng closer and calling for my attention. I had headphones on, but there was no music and I tried to ignore him despite that. This man would not back off and I told him, “I do not feel comfortable, please stay away”. He claimed he lost his phone and needed my assistance to locate it. First of all, whether this was true or not, no woman (or man) should feel the need to assist a stranger in finding an object. Yes, it’s the nice thing to do, but if you are alone and vulnerable it is not safe. We are not employees and last I checked, not a member of the Lost and Found Committee. Many public spaces have staff that may be contacted to assist someone if their items were lost or stolen. This may sound harsh, but let me explain a potential scenario, let’s say I gave him my phone or let him approach my car with my purse exposed. Suddenly, my guard is down, and he could run off with my phone or mug me. Maybe, this won’t be the case, but is it worth the risk to find out? Anyways, when I told this guy I was uncomfortable, he became angry and pretended to find his phone in the grass two feet away (I did not know a transparent phone existed, but if any of you heard of this new model shoot me a message!)
So, first and foremost, do not talk to strangers. If someone needs assistance and it is not life threatening, leave it to the professionals – your only job is to make sure you get your run in safely.
The next important thing is to carry some sort of self-defense either pepper spray with an adjustable strap (this is my favorite brand – not sponsored) or Tiger Lady Self-Defense Claw (also not sponsored, my mom gave me this). I used to be anti-pepper spray because I thought it was so lame… but realizing how vulnerable I am when I am running, I decided I would rather air on the side of caution. Also, safety is always in vogue. The Tiger Lady Self-Defense Claw is great because it allows you to capture DNA so you don’t have to see your assailant to make a positive identification.
Finally, if you are like me and enjoy listening to music or podcasts while you run, make sure you listen at a safe volume – partly to preserve your hearing, but also so you are aware of your surrounding and can hear beyond your headphones.
Solo running can be a great time to be alone with your thoughts and focus on yourself. Doing so safely can bring you the peace of mind and prevent dangerous encounters so you can #justkeeprunning and #setthebarHIGH!
Any safety tips you want to share? Feel free to leave a comment below!