Staying safe on a run - from welfare officers Rich and Lorna

The recent (and local) abduction and murder of Sarah Everard has raised the issue of women’s safety. Whilst society as a whole needs to review how we treat women (a conversation for a long run with either of us, if you feel so inclined), as a multi-sport club our concern is primarily about the safety of our members when out exercising. There has been plenty of debate on social media channels about the responsibilities of men and women in fostering a safe environment, but to summarise - there are certainly some things we can all do in this regard.

Whilst we appreciate safety concerns are heightened for women alone after dark, we all need to be vigilant while out running (day and night, in groups or alone, male or female, young or old). Any individual not aware of their surroundings is at risk for an opportunist. Whilst we’d love to live in a world where we could dismiss fears as not grounded in reality, the reality is that we don’t, it’s not going to change overnight. We want all our members to feel confident to go out running, so there are some practical steps that can be taken to help.  

We also ask that you consider your own behaviour, and how you could be perceived as a threat, even if you would never for a minute consider yourself as one, and are innocently going about your run. Your intentions, and how someone else perceives you are not the same thing.

Some of these hints and tips can be used in everyday life and not just when running or cycling.

 

For everyone - General Safety

  • If you wear a smartwatch or take your phone, set up emergency contacts (ICE) on it. It’s really easy to do. If you are keen to know more about a carrier for your phone, then start a conversation in the Windmilers FB group to hear opinions on what pouches or holders work the best.
  • Consider running with a headtorch (potholes or uneven surfaces can lead to injury) and always wear visible clothing or accessories if it's dark. This is also for other road users to see you.
  • The highway code dictates that if you need to run on the road, you should face oncoming traffic. That way you can see and react if needed
  • Carry ICE and medical emergency details with you at all times - https://onelifeid.com/ offer non-obtrusive ways to do this. Check out the WW website as we currently offer a discount with them (https://www.windmilers.org.uk/node/17980). 
  • Running with headphones, whilst inspiring for podcasts and music, mean that you can lose a sense of your surroundings. If you must use them then try out bone conduction (not in-ear) devices like AfterShokz or just regularly 'touch-in' with your surroundings. 
  • Consider your privacy settings on running/cycling social channels such as Strava and Garmin. It’s easy to change. For example, on Strava you can set a large privacy zone around your address and any others you chose (your work or friends/ family) that blocks your start / stop point from being visible
  • Trust your instinct and if something doesn't feel quite right then change it up. Stop a passer by and ask for help or pull in to a nearby shop momentarily. 

 

For men (or anyone who could be perceived as  threat - you might not see yourself as one, but please consider how others might

  • In non-busy areas / the dark - if it's just you running and you approach a woman, give her a clear wide berth. You should be 2m now anyway.
  • Try not to use women as pacers, and sit right behind them, especially if they are on their own. Change your pace or route or simply cross the road. Or let them know - communicate!
  • A nod or hand up if passing a woman on her own in a quiet or dark areas can help reduce any intimidation.
  • If you find yourself running the same route as a woman on a run for a while, mix it up or cross the road. 
  • If you are close to any female runners (or anyone who feels vulnerable) who run alone, consider offering to be their emergency contact on their Garmin/phone.

 

For women (or anyone who feels vulnerable)

  • Keep aware of your surroundings - generally note who is around you and how long they may have been so for. This also works for road safety - knowing what road users are doing is important
  • Buddy up with a friend if you are worried about running in the dark - ask on the FB group if you want some Windmiler company.
  • Share your live location with someone- you can do this on WhatsApp for the duration of a run or give a trusted person the ability to locate your phone at any time.
  • Run in the daylight and busier areas if you can
  • Let someone know your running schedule - rough route and timings, so they can expect you back, or know when to hear from you. This may reassure you as much as them.

 

welfare@windmilers.org.uk