„How can you run without music?“ He asks incredulous. „I wouldn’t make it past the first kilometer!“ I take in his arms that are as big as my thighs and his fists that would knock me out in one punch. I wonder what it must be like to run free, with music blaring from my headphones. How is it not to be wondering whether the shadow in the distance is a dog-walker, a loved-up couple or maybe whether it’s best I get my phone out just to be on the safe side.
Mr. Muscle Man
I wonder how to explain this, explain how in so many moments of every run I let the latest headlines about murdered women joggers play before my eyes before pushing them away. How I have to remind myself how „safe“ our small town is. Wishing for the millionth time that my jogging partner was back, but too spontaneous with my running to find a new one. It grates on me that I have to explain all of this to him and watch his eyes widen and see him sink back in his chair before giving me a sympathetic look and mumble something about how it will probably never happen to me. I smile and nod and then tie my laces. „To be honest“ I add „I quite like the quiet now that everything else is so loud!“ and it’s true, but it doesn’t mean I don’t wish I had a choice.
My 6 Ways To Stay Safe
I did consider for a long time whether or not to write such an article, but I think it is something that many women runners think about. My runs often happen when I see my chance (nap times for example) or feel like it, which means that having a running partner who can be that spontaneous is hard to find. I also like to run somewhere quiet and beautiful, which is also not ideal when you are trying to be safe! Here are 6 things I do to try and keep safe on my runs:
*Make sure someone knows where you are going and how long you expect to be
This is normally my husband. I tell him when and where I am going and stick to this. IF I decide to run further, I let him know. It’s annoying but could be life-saving.
*Keep your profiles private
I let my husband access my running info on my running app. My profile isn’t public, so people can’t see where I am or what I’m doing.
*Take your phone and know it’s tricks!
It is a pain in the behind to lug my phone along with me since I have my running watch, but so many things could happen while you are out running. Learn how to use your iPhone to help you in an emergency here and for your Samsung here. These are small tricks which could help you by contacting emergency services and notifying your emergency contacts of your location.
*Join a group or run in well-frequented areas
I hate even having to type this out because I love running alone and running out of town BUT I have decided that it’s time to bite the bullet and make safer decisions. Running in the local park isn’t my first choice because I will see people I know and they will have the chance to marvel at my purple complexion. I have decided to look for a new running partner this year. A running partner will be good for my motivation and accountability as well as offer safety.
*If you listen to music, make good choices
Make sure you can hear all sounds around you; cars, bikes, dogs and small children can seem to come out of nowhere, especially if you’re into your running groove. I have given up listening to music because I really do like the quiet and the noises around me when I run. If you can’t run without music, consider getting sports headphones which don’t cancel out all other sounds.
My last tip – I have some migraine-inducing running trousers and a neon vest which I wear in autumn and winter. So many running trousers and tops are black and this is bad for so many reasons – you need to remember that you are moving fast and can surprise people. As we have a dog, I know how scared he can be when a runner appears out of nowhere! If you are bright and visible, I can see you from far away and prepare my dog.
Pepper Spray – A Good Idea?
Some other articles I have read on safety recommend carrying some kind of pepper spray to use in the case of an attack. I cannot say that I would recommend this. First of all, some types of pepper spray are illegal in Germany; only animal repellent spray is allowed (Tierabwehrspray). Secondly, after speaking to a female police officer, she made the good point that anything you are carrying as a defense weapon can be used against you.
Finally, I think if we are going to be realistic about the situation female runners can find themselves in, it is important to put your safety as a priority. For me, it means deciding to run in well-lit and well-frequented places if I want to run alone and finding someone to run with me if I want to go a bit remoter. Last year I fell badly when I was out on a longer run and had to limp the whole way home, alone. Thankfully nothing was broken and I didn’t bang my head, but having a friend there would have made life easier. I hope you find my tips useful and take your safety seriously when out running. Feel free to share any tips you have for being safe when out on a run. Thanks for reading.
For more on why I run as a mum – read here