July 17, 2012

Hello. My name is Big Booty Jooty: Tales and Tips for Running Safety

Or at least that’s what the car full of creeps called me one morning last week on my run.
I’m still not sure if I should feel offended or flattered, since having a big posterior is something we Runner’s should have.
Big as in full of muscle, big, of course.

Mostly, I think I just feel creepily violated.

Then today, I was out running at my favorite park (close to my home) and felt as if I was being followed in the woods the whole time.
I’m pretty sure it was just the herd of deer running around, but at 5:30 am, it’s still a creepy feeling.

This brings me to my Runner’s Safety List.
A few tips I’ve learned over the years to stay safe while running.

  • First and foremost, always run with your cell phone.

I don’t care if you don’t have pockets, or an arm band. Even if you have to carry it, TAKE IT WITH YOU. If you have kids and you run with kids, make sure you have your cell phone. Even if you’re running with a buddy, take your cell phone. And most importantly, if you’re by yourself, take it with you. I had a couple of runs during college where all of a sudden I had a major allergy attack, (hives, eyes swelling up, couldn’t breathe very well, and both times I didn’t have my cell phone with me so I had to run all the way back home before I could get ahold of my friends. Luckily, I wasn’t too far away at the time, but  I still learned my lesson. Plus, if you are being harassed by someone from afar, if you hold your cell phone up like you are taking a picture or video taping they might just back off.

I should really learn to listen to my own preaching because I don’t have an actual road ID, but I do still run with information. The Road ID comes in different forms (bracelet, slim bracelet, shoe tag, ankle id, shoe patch, dog tag, etc) and it carries your info and emergency information should anything happen to you while running. Now, I’m allergic to penicillin, and I have one of those red cross tags with my info on it, but I think it still has my maiden name so I really need to update. A Road ID could save your life though, and they are very affordable.

  • Run against  traffic.

This is really a standard “runner’s rule” but I’m usually amazed at how many runner’s don’t follow it. If you are a road runner, you want to run against traffic that way you can see cars coming at you instead of them sneaking up behind you. Face it. there are a lot of bad drivers out there and if they aren’t paying attention to you running, at least you’re paying attention to them and if you’re running at them, then you’re more likely able to run off the side of the road out of the way than if they come up behind you.

  • If you run in the dark morning or at night, try not to  run alone. Also wear reflective gear

I usually wait until the sun has come up a little bit before I head out in the morning (5:30ish) and yes, lately I’ve been running by myself. But, I’m working on finding some new running buddies. It’s great to be able to go out by yourself and run in solitude, and sometimes running by ourselves is the only option we have, but should you have a friend or spouse who likes to run, if you want to head out early in the morning or late at night, try to take them with you (especially the ladies). And if you’re out before/after the sun, wear reflective gear. I tend to run on the road, so my neon yellow shirts are my best friends. Plus, I commandeered my husband’s PT belt since it’s reflective.

  • If by chance you are yelled at (…my day last week), followed, etc, DO NOT acknowledge or talk to them.

Even if you want to flip them off or yell that you’ll remember their license plate number long after they forget the sight of your butt. Just ignore them. I’ve done this since the beginning. When I was in college, I used to run a lot around town, and let’s just say my college town was full of classy people. Ahem. Anyway, I would get honked at a lot, or acknowledged by the classy gentlemen, and I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to acknowledge them back with some smart aleck remark or a nice gesture. But, Wonder Woman taught me to never talk too or acknowledge strangers, and it’s one thing I’ve taken to heart. Dorothy over at Mile Posts has a really scary but good story about this type of situation and some tips she learned form that day<<.

  • If  you find yourself being followed, don’t run into your house.

Last week on my run as the car full of “gentlemen” howled at me, I ran up a driveway to get off the road and on the sidewalk and they yelled that that “wasn’t my driveway.” It could have been (it wasn’t), but I wasn’t going to let them know that. Just keep running down the block, or cut through some neighbor’s yards to get to the next block over, or if you’re close to one, duck into a gas station. I think this is one of those things I also picked up from working in a bank. They always told us that if we found ourselves being followed home from work, don’t go home. Go to a store, or a public place. Essentially, you don’t want to let the creep(s) know where you live. Plus, I have this ridiculously vivid imagination, and so if I picture myself being followed, I suddenly see myself leaping over bushes, hurdling fences, and getting s sudden burst of lightening speed so I’m able to duck around houses and outrun them. Hey. Adrenaline does crazy thing to your body in the moment.

  • Vary your route(s) a little bit.

RB and I used to run the same 4 mile look three days a week. Now that I’m by myself, I have about four different routes I like, and so I’ve been switching off every day or so. One route for my easy run; one route for my hills; one route for my long run, etc

  • And if you’re going on a long run, don’t go by yourself.

I’ve also switched up my training days so I can do my long run on Sundays and run it with the running club so I’m not by myself; however, if I do feel like a long, solitude-filled run, I might have Music Man either bike with me, or drive me to a spot, drop me off, then follow behind me in the car as I run back to town. Long runs, no matter how decent of shape you are in, can deplete you, and if you’re 8 miles from home and suddenly can run any further, you’re stuck. If you’re with other people, they can at least wait with you until a ride comes so you aren’t alone. (Because you know you took your cell phone with you so you can call someone!)

  • If you’re a music listener, don’t turn the jams up so loud you can’t hear outside you. Let the music be background to everything going on around you.

I haven’t been a music runner for a couple of years now, but I’m thinking about trying it again or maybe podcasts since the majority of this marathon training will be by myself. But, the idea it to still know what’s going on around me. if you turn your ear buds up so loud you can’t hear outside, you might not hear a car if it swerves on the road and comes up behind you, or if another runner or cyclist wants to pass you, or if someone has been following you. Music is fine to run too, just don’t keep it too loud.

  • Lastly, carry pepper spray with you.

Now, you don’t need a big, honking can of it, but one of those little keychain cans will work. There have been too many disappearances of runner’s (especially women runner’s) lately, and something like pepper spray could at least by you time or maybe even save your life. It’s just one of those protective precautions to always think about.


Passing the Baton: These are just some of the things I’ve learned/picked up on over the last couple of years running. But what do you guys think? Do you have any other safety suggestions while running? Any scary stories where you had to implement these things?