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Self protection for runners on the trail

Ever encountered someone that made you feel unsafe on the run? We’ve consulted police to get the best tips for runners to protect themselves while out on the trails this summer.

Out running the trails this summer? For runners, the rewards of getting out on the trail during the hot months are endless. When the weather is warm, getting onto a trail and taking in the scenery and surrounding nature makes it hard to miss a run.

While the trail is generally an experience to be enjoyed among runners, watching out for your safety is key. Usually, major things to watch for are unsafe terrain or encounters with wild animals. But every so often, we hear about runners getting assaulted while out for their run. We’re not saying this will happen, but it never hurts to be extra cautious. There are some things runners can do to protect themselves in case this situation were to arise.

For starters, make sure you’ve covered the basics. These include:

    • Bringing a cell phone and ID
    • Knowing the course well
    • Letting friends know where you are running and when you should be back by
    • Running with another person if possible
    • Run during the day
    • Bring along a dog running buddy if you have one
    • Go music free to pay better attention to surroundings

Considering these basic self-protection suggestions is a great place to start. These are precautionary safety tips that are a smart way to start the run. We reached out to the Vancouver police to dig a little deeper. In the event that you encounter a threatening person while running this summer, Sandra Glendinning offers tips for runners to stay safe or get out of a dangerous situation. She says body language is an important thing to consider.

“Someone wanting to cause harm to another person is usually looking for an easy target. A human predator will target the weak, the injured, and the inattentive,” she says in an email. “By keeping your head up, being aware of your surroundings and by carrying yourself in a confident manner, you make yourself less of a target. Runners, by default, have confident posture when they are running, so this is an easy one to remember.” Another thing to consider with body language: eye contact. Glendinning says that making eye contact with people as you approach shows confidence– a trait that makes someone less of a target.

Switching up the route is another form of prevention. This one is easy for runners to do because who doesn’t get sick of running the exact same route every day? Taking on different trails is great for training because each route offers something new: a section of difficult terrain, an uphill chunk or a shaded section. It also is good to change up the daily run just in case someone is trying to observe habits.

“If you think someone is following you, cross the street and turn to walk in the opposite direction to get a good look at them and call 9-1-1,” says Glendinning. And if you have to cut the run short, so be it.

“Always trust your instincts,” says Glendinning. “If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.”