Be Cautious. Run Happy.
There's nothing worse than heading out for a run and having to worry about your safety, but unfortunately it's a common reality that most women face. Reclaim your confidence by taking the proper precautions next time you hit the trails.
Choose a Safe Route
Choose a location that has solid visibility. Try not to run near bushes or areas where someone could hide. Avoid streets that are narrow and have doorways or allyways, meaning you can't see around the corner. Pick a route that has a fair amount of foot traffic, the more people, the lesser chance you have of becoming a target. Always run against traffic so you can see approaching cars. If you must run at night, then choose a well-lit area. Make yourself visible by wearing reflective gear or a headlamp.
Do Research on the Area
If you're not familiar with the area, do some research and look up the crime rate. Never run in an area you don't feel comfortable, always follow your intuition. Don't run with headphones on! You need to be able to hear what's going on around you.
Take a Self-Defense Class
If you find yourself in a sticky situation, knowing the right moves to use if someone follows you, grabs you, or threatens you, can help you get away safely. In some scenarios you may only have a couple of seconds to react, so knowing what to do is crucial.
Never go out for a run alone without letting someone know. Give your significant other the details on where you're going and when you expect to be back. If you live by yourself, text a friend or a family member. It may seem a bit extreme, but giving someone a heads up on your whereabouts could save your life in a dire circumstance.
Run with a Panic Button
Purchase a panic button, which is a life alert device that pairs with a free safety app to ensure peace of mind while running. If you press the button, the Silent Beacon activates an alert that, when paired with the free app, instantly alerts your pre-programmed contact list. Best of all, the GPS-enabled device allows your contacts to immediately pinpoint your location.
Help Someone Else in Need
If you're out running and you see someone who is being harassed, would you stop to help them? Inaction from onlookers is a common occurrence. Helping a bystander not only tells the harasser that you know what's going on, but also let's the target know that they aren't alone. Each situation is unique. If it comes down to you just don't feel comfortable getting directly involved, but you are witnessing someone in need of help, then create some distance and call 911. Otherwise, here are a few tips to help someone fend off a harasser.
Be direct and firm with the harasser by yelling something like "Hey, leave them alone," or "That's not okay!" Don't get into a shouting back and forth with the harasser, which could make the situation worse. Only interject yourself if you feel secure and confident. The harasser will be able to sense if you're skittish or nervous when you approach them, remain cool and calm. Letting the other person know they're not alone will also give them confidence to stand up for themself as well. No harasser wants to deal with two people who are willing to fight back.
A less direct approach may work better for those who dislike confrontation. Interrupt the conversation by asking the target what time it is, or directions to the nearest bathroom, etc. You can even act like you know the target and start talking to them like a friend. The harasser will most likely be taken off guard and the situation will dissipate. Run off with the person and let them know you'll stay with them until the harasser goes away.
Get an authority figure involved. If you see someone who can help, such as a police officer, that's the best case scenario. Authorities are trained to deal with these types of situations. You could also ask another bystander to get involved. There's always power in numbers. Documenting the situation on your phone could also prove useful. Show the video to the target afterwards. Let them decide if they would like to take action further against the harasser.
Ask if they're okay. Just talking to someone after the fact can make a huge difference. It lets the person know that you saw what happened. It also allows them the opportunity to discuss the scenario, or get a second opinion.
If you choose to help a bystander, always remember to use your head and only take action if you feel comfortable.