Winter running throws up many challenges. Gone are the long summer days and for many this means training after dark. Safety is paramount, especially for us ladies. With more and more high-profile incidents, it is important to be cautious as the days get shorter.
Share your plans
Tell someone where you’re going and how long you expect to be. This could be telling a housemate or partner face-to-face or you could send a message to a friend (be sure to update them when you’re home too). Give them an estimate of when you expect to be back and a latest cut off point that you expect to be back by. Stay in touch when you're out there if you can.
Have a back-up plan
Keep your phone charged in case of emergency. Stash it in an easy-to-access pocket and not on display. Don’t make yourself a target with an expensive mobile in your hand. Also take a bank card, travel card or emergency fiver with you in case you need to abandon your run and travel home another way.
Don't head into the dark alone
Many people opt to wear a headtorch, which is great for poorly lit areas. However, my best advice is to stick to well-lit areas wherever possible. During winter nights I prefer to run along the footpaths of main roads. It isn’t picturesque, but I prefer to stay where there are more people and I can be seen. Footpaths also tend to be much more evenly surfaced, so you'll avoid accidents, and for those really cold winters nights, these are the ones that tend to be gritted. I would strongly advise against using unlit, remote trails.
Carry a personal alarm
I carry a personal safety wearable - my Run Angel. This is a small wrist-worn device that when triggered emits a 120dB alarm, an LED beacon and sends a text of my location to my family. There are quite a few personal alarms available on the market and for peace of mind, I highly recommend considering using one.
Go headphone free
Running in the dark, your vision is limited so you need to rely on your sense of hearing more. Go headphone free, or if that is a massive challenge and you can’t run without music try a pair of over-ear headphones which allow you to still hear what is going on around you.
Be safe, be seen
Invest in high-vis. Remember when your parents told you to 'be safe be seen' when you were kids? It still applies as an adult! Avoid all black, whip out those in-your-face leggings, accessorize with an ankle light. The ASICS Lite-Show range features strategically placed reflective flashes so you'll be extra-visible. Even if you’re running in a well-lit area you may need to cross a road and high-vis will ensure you’re seen by other road users.
Rock a bun
Tie your hair in a bun at the top of your head, a ponytail is easy to grab. It is a horrendous thing to think about, but after speaking with other women this was one of their top tips.
Safety in numbers
Join a running club or run in a group. It's always more fun! Plus, it's an excellent way to motivate yourself when the weather gets bad.
Don't be afraid to avoid the dark altogether
Night running isn’t your thing? Try catching the early morning light or switching it up for a lunchtime run. Alternatively, don’t be afraid of the treadmill- it might be dull but it's warm and dry!
Report suspicious behaviour
Report anything suspicious or untoward to the non-emergency police line 101. Were you approached, followed or made to feel at risk? It is essential that you report it. Even if you were simply passing by. You could be preventing other incidents.
The 101 line connects you to your local police force and you can speak directly to a trained member of staff, who will log the details of what has happened and assist you with the next course of action, if necessary. Calling 101 isn’t scary and you’re not wasting anyone’s time.
If you witness or are involved in a serious incident always use 999. If you are a victim to any form of attack, physical or verbal remember it is not your fault, get yourself to a safe place if you can and report it.
Only do what you feel comfortable with
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t fancy heading out in the cold or the dark. Winter running isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Find what works for you and most importantly stay safe!
Follow Becca on Instagram @thisbunnyruns