As someone who typically runs by herself, I take safety as my #1 priority. Especially being a female, I have to make sure I’m taking all precautions prior to embarking on a solo run. Here’s a few tips to keep in mind before hitting the trail:
1. Make sure at least one person knows where you are going.
This is SUPER important. Not only do I tell whoever is home where I’m going for my run, but I usually also post up on social media a picture of my route, be it a simple run in the neighborhood or a long trek on West Orange Trail. This way, should something happen, there is at least one person out there that can tell the police where to start looking for my body. (Just kidding, but seriously.)
2. Research your route.
Don’t ever blindly start a running route. Even if you simply map out on Google what you want your path to look like, you want to make sure that your distance is how you want it and that you have some familiarity with the area. I never start a new running route without at least doing some basic research. Are there public facilities along it? Is it a popular cycling area? (By the way, they don’t like sharing with pedestrians, either.) Are there mileage markers? If so, do they list emergency information should I require an ambulance or police? Both West Orange Trail and Flagler Trail have markers throughout that give you location codes to tell 911 in the event you need medical or police assistance.
3. When in doubt, carry SOMETHING.
This is especially true for women, but it should apply to men as well. If you just feel the least bit uncomfortable running alone, but don’t have much of a choice, get a keychain pepperspray, pocket knife, SOMETHING. I typically run with a lightweight pocketknife that clips easily to my running pants or fits in my pack. This way, should the need arise, I at least have some manner of defending myself.
4. Keep your medical information with you.
Technology is your greatest asset. Majority of phones these days have the ability to store a Medical ID for you in case of emergency. This information can be accessed by anyone through your lock screen so a first responder will be able to know who you are, who to call, and anything of importance about your medical history. I’m going to go ahead and say this should be a mandatory step, whether running solo or with someone else. Go to your settings and update this information so your loved ones can be notified when you’re mauled by that bear that somehow didn’t respond to the keychain pepperspray.
5. Pay attention.
Majority of us run with headphones, whether we’re listening to music, podcasts, Icelandic throat singing, etc… It’s great for pacing and keeping you focused. It can also massively distract you from the outside world. Even when running with headphones, I still keep it at a reasonable volume where I can hear someone coming up around me, a car passing by, a bicycle bell, whatever. Bone conducting headphones are a godsend (thanks parents!) and open up your audible range even more. But for safety’s sake, don’t blare your Kanye to the point where you won’t hear the creepy guy from down the street coming up behind you with a chainsaw. Why does he have a chainsaw? I don’t know. That’s why he’s the creepy guy.