Saturday, 25 August 2012

Is it safe to run alone?

I never feel worried or unsafe about running on my own.  Sure, I've had a few falls and trips but nothing too serious.  This business of tripping up is, for me, probably the biggest threat but in reality I know it's not likely to be a serious risk in terms of likelihood or consequence.  Other risks to safety can also be from "natural" hazards like being chased by cattle, slipping on ice, being struck by lightening or some kind of attack or abuse from other people, animals etc.  This morning on my favourite 7.5 mile hilly run I managed to startle a large dog who was being taken for a walk by a small petite woman.  The dog leapt up at me and I pushed it away; the woman was very apologetic and I too apologised for making the dog jump.  No harm done.

I have made the concession of taking a mobile phone when I go running, it fits neatly into the small zipped pocket on my shorts.

As I said, I feel safe from any kind of attack or assault when I run and here's why:

  • I normally run in the early morning.  Few dodgy people are around.
  • Most muggers operate in urban areas, not in rural areas
  • I don't have a tempting iPhone strapped to my arm
  • Many muggers (and the like) are most likely to be fast asleep at that time
  • I run with confidence and not afraid to look people 'in the eye'
For me it's about showing an air of confidence and behaving in a purposeful way that has served me well in many different situations.  The same applies to running and here's a few further thoughts:

  • Knowing the area or neighbourhood is important.  From that you can apply some common sense about what you're likely to expect. 
  • Try to avoid looking lost, even if you are.
  • Dodgy people don't have horns growing out of their heads.  First impressions and your "gut feel" are important in judging people but bear in mind it is difficult to tell if someone is a threat just from their appearance. If you see another runner, don't automatically assume they're not a threat
  • Make sure you let someone know roughly where you're going and when to expect you back
  • If you do run in neighbourhoods that concern you, consider taking a personal alarm.  If you can take a dog for a run so much the better.  This is assuming you don't have a tiny lap dog called Cuddles.
  • If you listen to music as you run, you're not going to be as aware of things going on around you (including someone running up behind you) and it could be a reason to steal from you
  • Maybe think about what you're wearing and whether it might attract the wrong kind of attention but in any event you have the right to wear exactly what you want regardless of what anyone else thinks
  • Carry some form of identification
Keep things in perspective.  The odds of anything untoward happening must be tiny but it does depend on the neighbourhood you live in or the terrain you run over.  You'll know what it's like and can plan accordingly.  For me, I'd say it's important to keep things in perspective but don't completely ignore thinking about your own personal safety.  

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