Safety first…

So. I did it. I left my husband and I am now single.
A single mother to be precise.

As much as I would like to keep my personal life off this blog I know that on the sites I follow I absolutely HATE it when people vaugeblog and allude to things that you, The Reader, don’t understand because you don’t know the whole story.

vaguebooking
So I’ll try to give you the lowdown without giving too much of ‘me’ away.
Basically my husband was cheating on me, I left him, he begged me to take him back so we could try again, which I did, and he cheated again. So I left him and moved out.
I absolutely believe in second chances. But no more than that, especially when there’s lying involved.

gatsby

He’s all yours honey!!

At first I felt like this particular part of my life wasn’t worth mentioning, because splitting with your partner is pretty off-topic for a running blog, but then I thought well, it sort of IS about running. I’m sure it’s a universal truth that splitting from your partner will affect anybody’s running.
It affects everything.

Whether it’s the fact that now you don’t have anyone to share child minding while you workout, or that you have no one who will call the Police if you don’t return from your morning run, not having your partner there to support you makes everything harder.
And that’s without taking into consideration the upheaval involved in moving out of the family home, moving in general, finding new running routes and time to do so now there’s only one of you maintaining the children and the home.
There’s the lack of sleep, the crazy changes in routine and the way all this impacts on your stress levels…

killing them

But you know what really struck me, out on these early morning runs in a new place? How long it’s been since I had to really worry about my safety when I ran.
I often run in new areas, on holidays and work trips, and I am very careful when I do so, but something about the complete newness of my situation and all the upheaval of moving made this feel different.

And if you don’t mind running with friends all the time safety won’t be anywhere near as much of a concern to you. But a lot of endurance runners I know are very protective of their alone time, and taking someone else with you kind of defies the point. So I am going to go ahead and assume you don’t want a constant running partner! and take a moment to offer:

7 safety tips for women running alone.

  1. Text a friend or family member that you’re going out. This is my number one tip for when I’m feeling a bit funny about a run. Obvious – but who really does it all the time? Well you should. Tell a friend or family member when, where and how long you’re going running. They don’t even have to be awake to receive your text, but if you don’t come back they’ll at least know where to start looking.
  1. Look, I know it’s boring, but run the same route. During the week when I have to start in the dark I have a safe, reasonable length route (6.5k) that can easily be extended for things like a slightly longer run, and includes hills and flat bits so I can turn it into a speed or hill reps workout.
    It’s reliable, for those who need to know where you were at 5:30 that morning if you forget to text anyone, plus it allows you to really get to know an area, and this lets you pick up on anything strange or off.
    That guy just standing there on the corner at 6am? Not normal. That car driving slowly when everyone else drives the speed limit? Could be following you.
    You’ll notice these things if you’re not constantly checking out new routes and trying to remember which way is home.
    Some people say that having a routine is dangerous, as the wrong sort of people will also know exactly where you go each day, but I think as long as you choose the safest area possible to run in then the benefits outweigh the negatives in this case.
  1. Have somewhere safe to retreat to in the event of things going pear shaped. Even if it’s just that you’ve twisted your ankle or died in the ass at the end of a longer run, having somewhere to stop safely is a great plan. My route takes me past shops and a gym, many of which are already open at 5:30am. Any of them would be perfect to pop into.
    If you don’t have anything open near you consider a safe looking house. It’s still a risk, but better than nothing. Finally, if you’re really stuck, at the very least try and keep in mind the best direction to run in should you be approached/attacked. Don’t be like all those idiots in horror movies who run UPSTAIRS when the murderer comes in the front door! Consider the closest safe haven and run to that.
  1. Be aware of your surroundings. I just can’t run without headphones. I can do it for really short periods, and I HATE any music towards the end of a long race, but otherwise, no, I need it. If you can possibly do without it, it’s safer, but if not, only put one earbud in and keep the volume low enough to hear dogs, traffic, footsteps etc. That’s an easy one.
  1. Take your phone. This wouldn’t be so hard if athletics clothing manufacturers made bigger bloody pockets! What do they think you need a pocket smaller than a 50 cent piece for? What’s the point of that? I have trouble jamming my keys into it let alone anything useful!! I used to have pants with lovely stretchy zipped back pockets that easily took my mobile phone and a gel or two but practicality is out of fashion these days, apparently. I can’t stand having my massive phone on a case on my arm so unless I drag out my uncomfortable Spibelt or a hydration pack, I don’t take it.
  2. Run against the traffic. Whether it’s low-light or no light, this is really important. Drivers with their lights on will see you much more easily, and you’ll be very aware of it if they’re not getting out of your way.
    If you’re running with the traffic and they don’t see you, you won’t know until it’s too late.fluoro                                                          Ok, I’d rather be mugged really…
  1. Bright bright bright. Wear light colours. Now is not the time to worry whether that white top which is too tight shows your rolls. Or whether that fluoro yellow top makes you look like you have jaundice. Who cares? It’s 5:30am!!
    Wear reflective, light gear, and when it’s really dark out – if the weight of it doesn’t piss you off too much – a headtorch is a great idea. Even if you don’t really need it to see, others won’t be able to miss you.

I don’t mean to say that every second of every run I am worrying about being kidnapped.
No, once the endorphins kick in I am usually idiotically optimistic about my chances of fighting my way free of an attacker.

Do I do all these things? Hell no! I hate taking my phone with me and I will die before I stop listening to music. I forget to text someone 80% of the time and am yet to buy anything fluoro yellow (I stick with white and pale blue with reflectors, not so bad on my complexion you see), but I do enough of them often enough that I think I am being sensible.

And that’s all anyone can be expected to do, so don’t get too caught up in the worry and – most importantly – don’t let others scare you off from getting out there and having a damn good run!

 

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