Women who run outside alone can take several steps to make their experience safer.
• It’s better to run with a partner or as part of a group, if you can. Taking a dog can also make you a less-appealing target.
• Never run alone wearing headphones, as enticing as it can be to listen to music. They reduce your ability to hear an approaching assailant. A corollary to that is to always be aware of your surroundings: Notice where you’re going and what’s around you.
Jean Knaack, executive director of the Road Runners Club of America, explains that in the midst of a run, it’s easy to zone out, which can be a safety hazard. “You need to not only focus on what’s in front of you, but look over your shoulders regularly, too,” she says. “Get a sense of who is behind you and whether or not they seem to be closing in on you in a way that makes you feel uneasy.” If so, move away as quickly as possible.
• Avoid running in the dark, even in partial darkness, and in sparsely populated areas. Parks, trails and isolated areas are best saved for running with partners. If you’re on your own and it’s a quiet time of day or night, opt for sidewalks with open businesses and pedestrian traffic.
• Tell someone when you are leaving, where you are running and when you expect to return. And ask that person to check on you if you haven’t been in touch within a certain length of time.
● Vary your running route and routines. “It’s important not to get complacent or too comfortable with your regular routes,” Knaack says.
● Finally, if something makes you nervous, don’t get caught up in the idea that you must finish your run. If it’s gotten darker more quickly than you expect or “someone in your vicinity gives you the creeps, always go with your gut and get out of the area quickly,” Knaack says. Personal safety always should trump even the most enticing workout plan.