We are advised not to run alone and not to run at night due to concerns around personal safety. Do you have a greater chance of being injured in a motor vehicle accident or while out running? The answer is statistically clear. But, when we get into our cars we fasten our seatbelt and turn on our headlights. Most newer cars have GPs tracking devices, alarms and warning signals when objects are in our paths. While running we need to implement basic safety measures to ensure we arrive home safe and sound.
Try not to run alone. If you don’t have a running partner investigate running groups in your area. Groups not only keep you safe but are fun and motivating. Enlist a non-runner friend to ride along with you during your runs for safety and company.
Make yourself visible as if were heading out in the traffic. Where a flashing light and a safety vest. There are countless running lights on the market including jackets that light up. Ensure your lighting can be seen from all directions.
Be alert and keep your wits about you. Its always nice to listen to tunes or an interesting podcast but don’t listen to music in a way that interferes with your ability to be fully aware of your surroundings. Turn the volume down, wear one earpiece or try the new bone conduction systems. Ensure you have full view of your surroundings. Avoid wearing hoodies that block peripheral vision.
Always tell someone your route and your expected time to return home. Many Apps and GPS devices allow others to track your whereabouts. For example, Strava allows you to send a text Beacon to a friend allowing them to live track you. Avoid making your route public on social media as this is a strategy predators can use.
Don’t stop if someone suspicious looking asks for directions or the time. This is a very common tactic predators use. Make eye contact with people you run past and run with your head up. Carry a personal safety alarm. When activated these produce a shrill alarm that can be heard for good distances.
Keep in mind some very simple self-defense moves even if you have not formally taken a class. The most common moves target the assailant’s eyes, groin and throat.
Being tied to running on the “dread/treadmill” during the dark winter months can be daunting and zap your motivation. Although being attacked while out running is a rare event compared to being injured in an MVA, we need to take precautions to protect ourselves as we do when we get into our cars. Hopefully, these tips help keep you safer out there.
Dr. Sara Forsyth
MSc, MD, CCFP (SEM), DipSportMed (CASEM)
Dr. Sara Forsyth is a Sports Medicine Physician at both Footbridge Clinic and Fraser Orthopaedic Institute. She received her M.D. from the University of British Columbia in 2002 and her Diploma of Sports Medicine in 2008. In 2012 she earned her Masters of Science from the University of British Columbia. Read full bio