Safety is something that I cannot stress enough especially as a woman who runs alone 95% of the time. Joining a running group is one way to increase your safety while running but there are many others ways as well. Make sure that other people know where you are going, what time you are leaving, and what time you expect to be back. Take your phone. It’s not that heavy and may save your life or someone else’s. Pepper spray is inexpensive and fairly light, but you have to put it in a place that is easy and quick to get at in the event that you need it.
At times, I run on the rail trail near my home. Most of the time I go south on the rail trail because there are more trees and I know that when I get to the Harmon’s grocery store it is about seven and a half miles. I can use the bathroom and then turn around. One morning I decided to go north. It was four in the morning and pitch black. The stars were out and I was just trucking along the trail, looking around this way and that because I’d never been this direction. There were warehouses and factories along one side of the trail. And trees and farm fields on the other. I turned my head to the right and was startled to see two people sitting on a wooden bench. They were about two feet from me. I didn’t notice them before because I was looking toward the fields. They were dressed in black hoodies and black sweatpants. My mouth fell open as I stared at them while I ran past. They stared back at me. I was very unnerved by this encounter. I continued running, heart racing, and thought maybe they work at the warehouse and are on break. Okay, why did they have all black on and their hoods pulled up? I don’t know. Maybe they were sweethearts out for a little early morning walk and snuggle on the bench? At four in the morning, seriously? I continued in this vein until I hit my turn around point.
After I passed them, I made a mental note to remember where they were exactly so that I could watch for them on my return trip. I kept running. It was a nice night out. I was in shorts and a t-shirt. It was late spring. I started getting to the section where they were. I slowed down. I was looking and looking for them. I knew the place where they were was close. I couldn’t see them. I slowed to a walk and then I saw them. One was thin and about my height and the other was larger and taller than I was. They still had their hoods up. I was about 200 meters from them. The smaller one got up from the bench and walked to the opposite side of the trail and down into the bushes. The larger one stood up and faced me. I turn around running in the opposite direction pulling out my pepper spray. My heart was pounding in my chest and I kept going. Once I was at the intersection of the trail and a road I rounded the corner and ran toward Main Street. I knew it was only a few blocks away and well lit. I turned to look back after getting onto the road and didn’t see anyone behind me. I held my pace until I reached Main and turned south again. I finished my run in a completely different location of the city. I have not run north on the trail since then and probably never will. Safety cannot be overlooked; it could cost you your life.
Runnersworld sent out an article on some safety apps, which prompted this blog and I think they are invaluable not only as a runner, but as a parent. Think about your children out on dates, or out with friends, youngsters who walk home alone from school or after school activities. The first one is called Kitestring. You can activate it when you think you could be in an unsafe situation, like going out for a nighttime run. The app checks up on you after a period of time and if you don’t respond or postpone the check-in, it sends a customized emergency message to the contacts you chose beforehand. This is a web based program so you don’t need an smartphone it can go on any device with internet it’s found at http://www.kitestring.io.
The second one is from RoadID. This one allows friends and family to check in on your route. If you stop moving for five minutes and don’t respond to an alert within sixty seconds, it sends out a message to your contact. This is run through iOS and can be found in the app store. These two are programs are triggered by inactivity which is useful if you cannot get your phone out or if you are unconscious.
The third one is bsafe. You have to access your phone to use this one. One push of a button turns your phone into a siren, alerts authorities, records video, and informs your contacts of your GPS location. This one is iOS and Android and can be found in the app store.The final one is ReactMobile. It is similar to bsafe. It alerts 911 or sends your GPS location to your emergency contacts with the touch of a button. Your loved ones can also track you in real time. This one is also iOS and Android and can be found in the app store.