Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Safety Dance Run

I have had several people express worry over my running alone in the wee hours of the morning and honestly I totally get that.  However, I think if one is smart and most importantly, aware at all times, it is safe.  Just as safe as if I was running alone in the broad daylight.  Both times I have had situations, it was in the middle of the day in a highly traveled area so I don't do anything differently for day or night running to be honest.  Danger is everywhere and you can minimize the opportunity if you just play it smart.

  • I think the number one rule, if at all possible, is to let someone know when and where you are going.  I do this more often than not, however I am guilty of just taking off without so much as a word.  I feel pretty confident on the routes that I run alone and at certain times, but still I need to be more vigilant about this.
  • Second would be to carry or wear identification.  I am very serious about this and always always wear my RoadID, SmartID or on Saturdays I have my Kenyan Way bracelet on.  Its funny that just this past Saturday morning I was thinking that if something did happen to me and I was found, at least they would know to contact Kenyan Way who has my emergency information on file.  It wasnt that I felt unnecessarily scared this morning, it was just a thought that entered my mind at some point.
  • Run against traffic.   This is very important and something I 99.9% of the time do.  Thinking is that a car cannot creep up behind you etc.  Its true that even if someone is approaching you from the front, they can still stop, pull out a gun and tell you to get in the car.  I encourage you to run.  And weave.  Sure you might get shot at, maybe even shot, but chances are that won't happen, and I am 100% sure that if you get in the car because someone flashes a gun, something bad is and will happen.  A few months ago, while running midday on the opposite side of the road, someone did come up behind me and then turned right in front of me as I approached a side street which I needed to cross.  He stopped and I thought he was going to keep going or needed directions so I as I was about to ask him what he wanted, I saw the devil in his eyes and he was just glaring at me like he was furious.  My instincts kicked in and I turned around as fast as I could and ran as fast as I could to the corner where I knew there was a corner store and ran inside.  Thats also important.  Always be aware of a place where you can run to safety.  He had turned around and headed my direction, but then ran the light.  All I knew was the color and type of vehicle he was in, but I felt much better that I was aware and that if I needed to, I could describe him and what he was driving.
  • Be visible.  Don't wear black.  Wear something that has some reflective on it, not just your shoes.  Wear a blinky light.  Wear a headlamp.  Something.  Its true that more often than not, my shorts will be a darker color, but has reflective on it, but I am ALWAYS wearing my blinky light on the back of those shorts!  I havent worn my headlamp in quite some time, but use to religiously.  My routes that I run before dawn are well lit enough to where I dont need it.  If you do wear a headlamp adjust the setting on it especially when running against traffic.  The high setting on those things are blinding, and just like a drunk driver will gravitate towards lets say a cop car with flashing lights or flashing safety poles on the side of the road, drunk drivers will gravitate towards that headlamp.  And you!!  I dont know why this is, but there have been studies and with the amount of cops I know, they all say the same thing.
  • Vary your routes.  I have 4 different routes that I run from my current residence.  Only 2 of those are ones that I run before dawn.  And I never ever run the same one twice in a row, and typically my morning runs before work vary from days of the week and from week to week.  This is important because if a random person drives the same route about the same time you are running and they see you day in and day out or figure out a pattern, well you know what that means.  So mix it up.  The only route that I run that is clockwork right now is the one I run on Saturday mornings when I have to run extra early which isnt every Saturday.  There is only one other way to get to the park and I pick the lesser of two evils.  At least the one I run is divided with a fence and a median to where someone cant come up behind me and turning around would be impossible almost.  Plus the one I run I see at least one cop car every time.  Its 2 miles to where I feel safe(r) so thats the one I run.  Even when I run after work when its still light out, I still dont run the same route every time.  If  you cant vary your route, then vary the times.
  • Follow your instincts.  See above.  I knew instinctively that that one guy was no bueno and I ran.  The other way!  Granted I only had to run a block to the store on the corner but still.  Even this past Saturday as I was leaving the park, I ran a different way than to Memorial and this car was going slow behind me so I stopped.  It was a girl and she was only going to let me pass the turn in, but I signaled to her that she was way ahead of the turn in and to go on.  It scared me just a bit.  But in my mind I already knew which way I was going to run.  If something seems off then cross the road, or turn around and go the other way. 
  • Ditch the music, or at least half of the music. I still wear my music but I only wear one bud in and I have it on lower than I do when I run with others.  When I run with others, its blaring.  Sometimes I take one out on the group runs if its a well traveled road so I can hear others if a car is coming or something.
  • Choose a well lit route.  I think this goes without saying.  There are one or two parts of my routes early morning that are dark because of the placement of street lights or trees blocking them.  I run down the middle of the street though or the middle of the lane; going in the opposite direction of course so as to see if a car is coming! :), never going on the sidewalks.  I think its creepy to run on the sidewalks and where I live they arent in the best shape and I dont want to trip and break my face, and that there could be something in the bushes!  The only time I get on the sidewalk when its dark out is when a car is headed my way, and honestly my routes that early, there are no cars.  If I see 4-5 cars its a miracle.  And that is typically only when I cross a major intersection.
Some other things are carrying a cell phone, even though I will never do this.  I am not going to haul that thing around.  It doesnt have my music on it, so I see no need.  I have heard, but not confirmed also that GPS watches can be registered or something like that, and if its on, and someone is looking for you, it can be tracked by calling an 800 number or something similar.  Anyone vouch to that?

Anyone have anything else to add?  Have you ever encountered someone scary or had a close call?  Do you run in the dark?  Do you know the song the blog title references?  Which ones of these do you consistently do?

1 comment:

TX Runner Mom said...

I do carry a cell phone in my spibelt when I run early in the morning. I figure if someone attempts to abduct me, I can at least call for help. Also, there are a couple of early morning runners in my neighborhood who run on certain days...this may sound goofy, but I've adjusted my schedule so that I can run on the same days they run. I'm not running with them, but we pass each other every so often and it's nice to see a familiar face out there!