November is National Running Safety Month. As an avid runner for the last eight years I have done my fair share of learning to be safe while out on the road, trail, and even while traveling. I am sharing my personal safety rules with Vegas.com to help runners stay safe while visiting the Strip to participate in upcoming races!
I live in a smaller town, but even small as it is, I have been spit on by a passing truck, had a car zoom up next to my leg (appeared to be on purpose), been whistled at, had many dogs come at me, had people pull over next to me and ask me questions (in a "raper van"...more coming on that), and had times I needed a bathroom...NOW! I've also had yogurt tossed out of a moving car at me, ran out of water on a long run, and got lost on a trail with no cell service while by myself. So bear with me and learn from my mistakes!
Run with friends Whenever possible, run with someone. I do enjoy a "lone" run once in while, but I try to run in groups whenever possible. I post most of my runs on my fitness page ZaoFit, or message others to join me. This keeps everyone in the group safe and accounted for. If one of us has a problem, the rest are there to help. My group has been known to share water, share toilet paper, and share a walk if someone is struggling that day. In my larger groups we have never had a stranger try to approach us and everyone is always accounted for. I feel safe on these runs most of the time. We have had dogs try to take us on a few times, but that's another story! If you're going out alone, always tell someone about how long you will be gone, and your route. It never ever hurts to tell someone and it may save your life!
Carry a phone Always take your phone on a run, even if it's only one mile. You never know what may happen. There are many ways to carry your phone. I wear an EAZYMATE belt. There are many more options to choose from. Phones are good to have if you ever need to be picked up during a "run gone bad." Sadly I've had to use my phone for this. Maybe you need to call a friend to talk you through a bad spot during a long run. My family uses the app called Funa. It's a family locator with GPS Tracking. It has a handy SOS button too, but beware...I accidently pressed this button a couple weeks ago and it really does work! And lastly, a phone comes in handy when you want to take a quick running selfie to post when you get home!
Wear reflective gear and lights I live in Oregon. In the summer we have lots of daylight. This time of year (Fall/Winter), not so much! Sometimes I do need to run in the dark. If alone, I will sometimes just run in my garage on the boring dreadmill. Most of the time, I will go out into the dark. I like to wear a reflective vest and take my Nathans running light. I have tried headlamps, cheap small hand lights and knuckle lights. The Nathan's is by far my favorite. It straps on your hand, white light in the front. It's very visible to oncoming traffic and helps you see the road in front of you, no problem. It also has a red light in the back. You can pick your setting to keep in on, or make it flash. It also has an emergency siren button to press if you are in danger or need help of any kind. It's isn't super loud like an air horn, but it is loud enough to get someone to come over to you. The Nathan's light is rechargeable (no batteries) and is waterproof!
Bring water If we are talking just a few miles, I don't necessarily think it's necessary to bring water. Anything over six miles for sure. I have a smaller hand-held water bottle and a larger one I use depending on how warm it is that day, and how far I plan to run. If I come home with extra water, no big deal! It is no fun to need water so bad you steal it out of someone's water hose (yes, I've done this). So just be safe, take the water with you!
Carry pepper spray or mace I don't always carry pepper spray, but there are times I feel it's necessary. If running alone and if running out on a country road (even in groups). Running alone is always a good reason to carry pepper spray. You just can't be too safe. While running out on a country road you may encounter a farm dog. Farm dogs seem to be very protective of their land. This has happened to me and my friends more than once. I happen to love dogs, but I've also had a dog bite me before. I am also a mother to three and have no problem speaking in a "MOM" tone. Four times I've had a dog (sometimes two) come running at my friends and me. This is terrifying to my friends, but I will look the dog in the eye and yell at him to go stop and go home.
This has always stopped the dog(s) and we are able to safely walk past out of harm's way. I do not guarantee this will work, so I recommend having pepper spray as a back up. Pepper spray is my number one for creepers. I once was running with my friend on a very warm day a couple miles out of town. We had stopped to walk and catch our breath after running a hill. A "raper van" (large van with no windows) pulled up beside us and asked if we needed water? I gladly raised my hand showing the man in the van that I had a water bottle AND pepper spray. He nodded and drove on his way! He may not of meant any harm to my friend and me, but that wasn't something we needed to test.
Ask for advice While traveling I like to get a good run in. It's a fun way to see a new city on foot too. Usually my husband will join me for a run while traveling but occasionally I will go out alone. I will ask a local(s) for a good/safe route in the area and let my husband know the details before heading out with my phone. If ever in doubt or if it's dark and we are at a hotel, I am quick to just get my run done on the dreadmill. I do like to take advantage of a gym if needed. I typically will get some weights in too while staying at a hotel. You can check out some great Vegas hotel deals here!
Wear identification I highly recommend Road ID or taking your driver's licences while running or hiking. It just may save your life! I also like to tuck a few dollars in with my identification too. Never know if you may need to stop and buy water, a band aid, gu, ice cream??? Also, tuck in some toilet paper with that money. Toilet paper can be a life saver out on a long run, just trust me on that one!
No cell service? Don't go out alone! Once while in training for a trail run, a group of friends were picnicking at the park I would later be running my trail run at. I thought it was a good idea to get in a good six or seven miles on the trail while we were there. It seemed safe enough. I took off with my phone and sadly, seven mile turned into eleven mile when the trail didn't circle around like I thought it would. When I took my phone out to call my husband, there was NO service on the mountain. I was safe but when I came running in, my husband look terrified. He was getting ready to call me in as lost. I will never run on trails again alone with no cell service.
No headphones I rarely wear headphones. I have bad things happen when I do. I once had the little round piece of the headphone get stuck in my inner ear because I was so sweaty. My friend tried to get it out but with no luck, I had to run home with it in my ear. I drove to my husbands work and he was able to get it out with some tweezers. My head sweats so bad, once my headphone popped out of my ear and started bouncing around on my arm. I thought a bug was attacking me and started jumping and screaming while traffic went my. Nobody stopped to help me! I haven't wore headphones since! I either talk with my friends or if alone, enjoy the beautiful city I live in. I like to be very aware of my surrounding while running. I like to be able to hear if someone is coming up from behind me or if a car is coming. Many of my friends do wear headphones, but they will turn them down low or just wear in one ear.
Run towards ongoing traffic and always make eye contact
I always like to run going towards the flow of traffic, opposite of what bikers do. I like to be able to see traffic coming. I will move out of the traffics way as I run by. I feel this is the smartest way to run, be safe, and also respect the flow of traffic. When running in town, there is always a chance of a car backing out of a driveway. I always assume they don't see me. I stop and wait to make eye contact before crossing the car. Sometimes they don't see me and they back up! Also, never assume traffic pulling out of a parking lot/road sees you. Often drivers are in a hurry and just don't realize you are there. It's no need to get angry, just don't cross in front of the car until the driver looks at your face. Eye contact is always key! Once my rule didn't work, my friend and I were running through town and a car was pulling out of the DMV. I made eye contact with the driver and we both crossed in front of the car. As we got right in front of the car, the driver pressed the gas (seemed to be on purpose). The car drove right up next to my leg. It put me in total shock. I couldn't believe someone would be so mean. The driver was right next to my leg, another hair and I would of been hit! That is the only time making eye contact didn't work.
Always eat after you run! It's good to refuel after a good workout! Here is one of my favorite things to eat after a good run!
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