Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sara's Expert Safety Tips

Hey readers! Recently, reached out to me and, since this is National Running Safety Awareness month, wanted to see if I had any tips to share with readers. 
I wanted to share my original safety ideas for those traveling and running in unfamiliar, less populated areas. When people think of running in Vegas, they typically think of running the Strip. These are my tips for those of you planning to explore the wonders outside of the Sin City!
I think, whether you are running in rural Maine, or the more remote areas outside a city the safety practices are similar. 
I hope everyone enjoys my tips! 

As everyone knows, I am a veritable spokesperson for all things safety related. 
Over the years I have become very conscious of my safety while running. For me, running in a rural area often feels safer than running in a more urban location. There have been a few things over the years that have made me rethink this. (read on to find out what.)

Since Maine is a year round tourist zone I regularly talk to my visiting clients "from away" about outdoor workouts in my area. While I am accustomed to the conditions here (middle of nowhere) the remoteness makes city people quite apprehensive! 
There are the standard safety tips that every blog post everywhere will *help* you out with. "Run with others in blazing daylight in a highly populated area!!!" is one original thought that *never* would have occurred to anyone... (but is actually not a bad tip.) 
However, If you don't live in Boston or a similar big city, read on to learn about how I stay as safe as I can in a small town. These are the gems that I pass along to my clients and friends in hope that maybe I have an original safety idea (probably not.)

Don't be invisible
Pro Tip Number One: Don't be a damn mime. (read: unoriginal suggestion numbah ONE. whoops.)
Really though. Dress all in black and then scream "HIT ME CAR!!!!"
When it is daylight I wear loads of bright colors.
When I must run at night I break out the big guns. 
-Nathan Glow stick vest of magic!
-Blinky flashy arm band (that I got in the second Stridebox, guess my negative first review went unnoticed??? Loved this arm band though!) 
-Sweet, sweet headlamp (available pretty much everywhere.)
-Amazing flashing glowing spur. Yep.

Lit up like a damn Christmas tree. BLINK. FLASH. YO.
Pro Tip Number TWO: WHO LET THE DOGS OUT? And what are you gonna do about it???
My top fear while running (other than being eaten by a jabberwocky) is a dog attack.
This is fully legit, I have repeatedly been chased and threatened by local dogs. It is very scary and I have been lucky to emerge unscathed, although emotionally scarred for life.
(this leads to pro top 2 1/2. DO NOT run with music. You MUST be able to hear the little rascals coming. Not to mention that it's extremely important in a rural area with no "breakdown" lane, and rarely a shoulder on the road, to be able to HEAR traffic. Suck it up. Leave the headphones home if you wish to live.)

My "Don't bite me" defense kit

Let's get honest. Most likely, if a vicious dog really wanted to bite me he still might be able to.
But I plan to make it both difficult and unpleasant for him.  I ALWAYS carry one of these pepperspray/mace containers with me. I always know where it is in my flip belt and I have practiced whipping it out and flipping it open. Typically, a good bit of stomping and yelling sends the beasts back into their yard (and yes, I'm going to call animal control on you if your dog is a repeat offender.)
But if my menacing tactics don't work, or if a dog looks wicked scary I'm gonna mace his ass. 
So yes. Dog attacks are my number one concern while running, mostly because it is a real threat in my area and something I have encountered too often. 

Pro Tip number THREE: Protect yourself against Rape Van Killers.
Yes. I watch too much Criminal Minds. 
While I, perhaps naively, feel that I live in a safe place, NO woman is safe when she runs alone. 
It's a bummer but it is true. Especially in an area where there is nobody to hear you yell...
Get a screaming mace. Carry it.
Always carry your phone. 
Be aware. Duh. I run to the other side of the road if there is a parked car. I will not stop to give you driving directions (I will give you directions, but you best be prepared to keep that car moving!) I am even keenly aware of weird little places that people could be lurking, I keep my ears and eyes open at all times.
It is wise to change up your route and time of day that you run. 
Honestly, just be smart. If you truly feel uncomfortable running (anywhere) don't go. No workout is worth it and most of us could use a bit of strength work at home or in the gym (*ahem* self, I speak to you.)

Screaming mace. Available at your local Wal-Mart.
Pro Tip Number FOUR. A continuation of tip number 3: Let people know where you are going. (the right people, that is....)
Before every run I let my peeps know where I am headed. I use map my run and leave my route right up on the computer, for all to see.
If I decide to change my route I text Eric and let him know.
If I am on a particularly long run I give a good estimate of how long I plan to be gone, and I often check in mid run.

Make it easy for (the right kind of) people to find you. 
In other wise thoughts.
Don't be a dummy and post to all of your twitter, snapchat, whatever accounts, that you are heading off on a run through no man's land where there is no cell service and no other humans. Ugh! I see this happen more often that you would think.
Strava also makes me a bit leery at times, as I run from my home and the map clearly shows that. I used to run around the corner before starting it up but I have slacked on that. UGH. So much danger!
*EDIT!!!* Literally, five seconds after this blog dropped I was given a valuable piece of information. You can totally make your home invisible on Strava. This is fabulous information! (and I immediately updated my security settings! Not to worry, if I invite you over for beers I will still give you my address....)

*I honestly feel very safe when I run in my town. However, I really think it is always wise to be aware of your surroundings. This applies whether you are in the random countryside or in a big mall parking lot. Keep your ears and eyes open!*

Maine Fashion
Pro Tip number FIVE: Don't get mistaken for a deer and get shot.
Yes, it is hunting season here in Maine. In reality, one should be more concerned about hunters than rape-van-killers in my neck of the woods.
Wear your blaze orange. Look hot af. Bring the hick look wherever you go.
And you won't get hunted in the process so it's a win win.

So there you have it. Pro safety tips for people who wish to experience the adventure of running in a place that is NOT a city.
I am aware that I left our bear and bobcat attack prevention. Thus far, we have learned that bobcats are more afraid of us then we are of them. As far as bears go, I actually have a can of bear spray somewhere up here. But I don't mess with them...
My final Pro Tip is just that: If there are bears, stay indoors!!!!


  1. All great ideas! And I live not as much as the middle of nowhere like you do... but I still cannot get myself outside in the dark by myself for over a mile away from the house. I have tried. A lot of times. But something always makes a noise in the woods. Or you find out that the random weird guy you would run past turns out to be a murderer and used to walk in the woods behind your house! That was years ago.... but I still can't get past it! :) I'm a chicken. Big time!

  2. A little off topic but that loop around Norway lake looks awesome!