I enjoy the solitude of running alone and in the past, whenever my schedule allowed and hankerin hit – I’d get dressed, gear up, throw on my headphones, running shoes and hit the road. Having moved to Louisiana from Chicago, I had a false sense of security and took safety for granted.
Not any longer. Stories of crimes perpetrated on outdoor exercisers ranging from phone snatchings and body gropings, to horrific near fatal attacks as recorded in A Survivor’s Story got me to take pause. My husband and the Word of God adjusted my perspective and actions. I don’t walk in fear (2 Tim. 1:7). I’m called to walk in awareness and wisdom.
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15-16 KJV
Consequently, adjustments have been made and safety is always a consideration in my running behaviors.
Below are some pretty popular, possibly risky behaviors. How are you when it comes to safety?
- Being anti-social– No matter how you frame it, walking/running alone can be dangerous. Solo exercisers are more desirable to attackers, (safety in numbers), and if you are out alone, get injured/take ill and can’t help yourself, you’re relying on a passerby seeing and assisting you. I place solo running in the same category as playing in the streets when I was growing up. Our yards were a bit small and the park was too far to go without adult supervision, so kids on the block would often meet in the street for a game of Red Light Green Light, or football. We did it because it fit our needs. We weren’t afraid, but no matter how much fun we were having, we were mindful to look and listen for cars. For many, walking/running alone happens. Schedule conflicts, distance, differing paces or personal preferences can prevent every walk or run happening with a buddy. When out alone, it is important to stay mindful of the potentially unsafe situation. Take appropriate precautions and stay aware of your surroundings.
- Being overly social – Many fitness apps post information onto social media letting your friends know details of your activity. How long, how far, when, and where complete with detailed maps showing every street and turn. If allowed, the Nike app posts when you start so your friends can cheer you on. Nice feature, but when you consider everyone seeing the posts may not necessarily be your ‘friend’, disclosing that much information on your whereabouts may not be a good idea.
- Being too secretive. The whole world does not need to know details of where you will be – but someone close to you should know. Checking in with a family member or close friend before you start with location information, and notifying them when you are done just makes sense.
- Going out without your phone. Growing up, Momma insisted I always have a “just in case” dime for a phone call. I think calls are much more than a dime now. Can’t say for sure because I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen or used a pay phone. When was the last time you’ve been on a pay phone? In case of emergency, you’ll need your phone to get help.
- Being out on your phone. Like a hunting lion – predators look for unsuspecting prey. People talking, texting or dilly dallying on their phone are not paying attention to their surroundings. This makes them an easy mark. Additionally, many attacks are robbery related and smartphones are often the object of interest. A recent runner attack in our area occurred at 3:30 in the afternoon along a very popular route amidst million dollar homes. Daytime, ‘good’ neighborhood, high traffic area – whoda thought? The young lady was stomped and beaten over her phone. (See Runners at LSU Lakes question safety after recent robbery and Smartphone Robberies on the Rise). Consider ditching the phone armband that displays ‘merchandise’ for hunting hoodlums. Instead tuck your phone out of sight in a pouch or pocket.
- Playing hide the key.Ok, I’ve never done this one and the fact that people do this amazes me… In the lot along a popular running route, I’ve seen (multiple times) people hide their keys before leaving for their workout. Really? If I saw this (and I wasn’t looking), someone watching for such can see it as well. Do keys really weigh you down that much? Tuck em somewhere and take them with you.
- Running with headphones/earbuds. Last on the list but so important. Yes – music can add to enjoyment and motivation. Yes – bumpin beats in your ear can drive and help you stay on pace. Yes – powerful lyrics can encourage you to keep going when you want to stop. Yes – music can help you zone out and go to another place. Wait – that’s the point. When lost in the music, you’re not fully present in your surroundings and you may not be able to hear helpful warnings. Predators often look for people with wires dangling from their ears. Music-less not happening for you? Consider wearing only one earbud or skip them altogether, let the speakers play and share your sounds. You’ll hear your music and your surroundings.
What precautions do you take to stay safe on your workouts?
Be safe and walk in wisdom.
Be safe and walk in wisdom.