Finally it’s starting to feel like spring. The warmer temps and longer daylight hours make this the perfect time of year to take your runs outdoors. While research shows that exercising in nature has lots of benefits for your mental and physical health, running outside also invites risks that you wouldn’t have to worry about on a treadmill. Stay safe as you soak in the warmer weather on your outdoors runs with these expert tips.
1. Run in well-lit, populated areas. “Avoid environments that could make you a victim, like a deserted trail at dawn or dusk,” says Jean Knaack, executive director of the Road Runners Club of America. If you find yourself in an isolated area, be sure to take out your ear buds: Women in headphones appear to be easier targets to sexual predators.
2. Trust your gut—it’s usually right. If you see a suspicious person approaching you, give them as wide a berth on the street or path as possible. “Don’t look down—keep your eyes on the person, but cross to the other side of the street if you can,” Knaack says. If there’s enough distance, consider turning in the opposite direction and running away as fast as you can, she adds.
RELATED: Stay injury-free and go faster by improving your running technique.
3. Put up a fight. “If you’re approached, establish the impression that you’ll be a terrible victim: loud, fearless, and willing to fight,” says Lynne Marie Wanamaker, a certified personal trainer and self-defense instructor. Be verbally and physically assertive—look the person straight in the eye and speak loudly, saying, “Stop right there,” “You’re too close,” or “Leave me alone.” An attacker is likely looking for someone who will be easy to overpower, not someone who’s willing to get physical.
4. Know basic self-defense skills. Be aware of the top four vulnerable spots on a person’s body: eyes, nose, throat, and knees. If you’re close enough to fight back, do it. “Imagine the attacker is trying to hurt your mom, sister, or child, and fight just as dirty to protect yourself as you would to save another woman you love,” Wanamaker says. “Plus, remember that self defense works. Studies show that fighting back correlates with reduced rates of rape and does not correspond with higher rates of physical injury.”
RELATED: Stay confident, strong, and safe by learning what every woman needs to know about self defense.
5. Always carry your smartphone. While mace and pepper spray can be effective if used properly, more often than not they’re left at home or zipped in a back pocket, rendering them useless in an emergency. But you still have a weapon: “Your cell is a great self-defense tool,” Knaack says. Download these five handy apps today to help keep you safe on any outdoor adventure:
- ReactMobile enables you to report suspicious incidents or send your current GPS coordinates to pre-selected contacts with the push of a button if you’re approached.
- StaySafe allows you to enter your expected running path and timing, and if you don’t check back within the allocated time, your pre-set emergency contacts will receive your GPS coordinates—even if your phone is switched off.
- MyPanic is a free app that lets you trigger a piercing alarm and flash bright colors to grab the attention of other people who may be nearby.
- Guardly sends emergency alerts to your selected safety network, who will be informed of your real-time location and whether you’ve called 911.
- bSafe turns your phone into the ultimate safety device. One touch of a button sounds a siren, records a video, alerts authorities, and informs selected contacts of your GPS location.