1. I have been spending time running and walking outside more than ever. Running isn't my exercise of choice but a Fit Mom's gotta do what a Fit Mom's gotta do. ;) Ladies with long hair this is for you. Do not run with your hair in a ponytail. Why? I know your hair gets in your eyes and is hotter when you wear it down. I get it. However, a ponytail to a would-be attacker is just a handle, a pain point and something to grab you by. I know I have read before that many women who were grabbed while running were wearing a ponytail and that is one of the reasons they were chosen. Now, however, all I can find are the prettiest ponytails for running and nothing on safety. (I will keep searching for data). For now, let's just err on the side of caution. Perhaps a braid would be better? I know I can French braid my hair and slide the tail up inside the rest of the braid out of sight.
2. Alternate the time and route of your run, walk or bike ride. This is not the time to be a creature of habit and always run the same route or to run by the same spot at the same time every day. That is never a good idea.
3. This next one I learned before I left the country to go live in Brazil. (Thanks, Dad!) Always tell a trusted friend or family member where you are going, where you will be and when to expect you back. Be clear with them that if you are not back by a certain time to come looking for you because something might have gone wrong and you need help. You also have to be responsible with this one and remember to check in when you have completed your run and are home safely. Don't freak them out because you forgot to tell them you finished your run and went out to meet your friends with a dead cell phone battery. ;)
4. Bring a flashlight with you or put a flashing light on your shoes or clothes. It is hard to see you especially if it is dawn or dusk. You may think cars can see you because you can see fine. Think about it - you are running, focused on the road in front of you. Drivers are looking for other cars not people on the side of the road or even in the crosswalk. Be careful and don't be afraid to stand out. Now's your time to shine!
5. If you chose to carry a weapon with you make sure you know how to use it and realize that it may be used against you. Verify that it is legal where you are. Mace is illegal in some states, counties or countries. I like these products from Go Guarded.
6. If you cannot bring water with you at least make sure you drink plenty of water before you leave and have a couple bucks on you to buy a bottle of water.
7. Carry a picture ID with emergency contact info. If something happens and you cannot communicate don't you want the first responders to contact your loved one as soon as they can? A copy of your health insurance card never hurts either. For something more visible on your body you can't go wrong with Road ID.
8. Enjoy your time outside, stop to look at the flowers and animals. Take a picture, breathe deeply. At the same time, keep your wits about you. What does that mean? Know what is going on around you. Pay attention. Don't let the endorphins take over. Use all your senses here. As Jodi from Go Guarded puts it, "head on a swivel - constantly monitor your surroundings. Know and believe in your heart that you are capable and strong. Reject the victim mentality. Embrace your Fierceness!" Smell cigarette smoke, see a shadow coming closer, headlights, hear something near you, someone who just looks like trouble? - cross the street to avoid them.
9. Have a male name in mind to call out if you are feeling threatened. The attacker might believe your husband, boyfriend, brother, etc. is running behind you or nearby and might not want to chance it. (This tip is also from Jodi of Go Guarded).
9. If you like to run with a weighted vest start out slowly like I did. I would do 5% or less of your body weight the first time out. I started with very light weight. I ran slowly and stopped to walk pretty frequently. You can gradually build from there. Make sure to warm up really well and stretch and foam roll after. If you want to get the same vest I use you can get it HERE.
10. I will end by encouraging you to get outside as much as you can and to move your body. Bring a friend with you who is 6 feet apart.
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Updated: Feb. 10, 2022.