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Hi- I am a total Newbie-
I was running on the street, but stopped when someone is car threw stuff and hit me with it (there was no way it was unintentional).
So, I started running on trail near my house- its a straight trail, so I run up, turn around, and run back to where I started. At first, I didm't really think about my safety, as I wasn't running very far- but now, my runs are around an hour- and recently, a woman in town "disappeared", so it has kind of started weighing on me.
I try to be aware of what is going on around me, and my mother-in-law suggested I carry pepper spray. I don't have any, but that does seem like a good idea.
Does anyone have any tips about not just how to be safe on the trail, but also how to feel safe? I think I am psyching myself out a little, and I dont want to stop running because I'm too scared.
I am afraid of dogs so I carry pepper spray with me but a couple weeks ago a strange man pulled up in a van in front of me and wanted to give me a ride (it was obvious I was on a run, running clothes, iPod, ect). I was glad then that I had the pepper spray. I would definitely recommend it.
I have to agree with Longtallsallee pepper spray is nice to have and I would have a waist pouch and carry your cell phone just in case you need to use the pepper spray on someone just to call 911 if need be.
I run 6:15 still dark and I live in the country I do run on a road with some houses but there are woods too, so I plan on buying myself some pepper spray. Good luck - be safe.
It is always important to be aware of your environment and surroundings. If you have the opportunity, change the time, distance and course of your route. I know this is difficult to schedule, but a retired FBI agent once told me that my running routine was too predictable and it made me an easier target to become a victim.
It is true that perps look for patterns, and sometimes trails turn into "hangouts" or meeting places for other activities, so maybe check with your local running club or try and observe the flow of other walkers/runners/people with dogs to see if there is a particular time that seems to be more crowded with those exercising.
As you stated, the street has its own hazards, but mostly it is preoccupied, careless drivers, clueless teenagers, irresponsible pet owners, jealous neighbors or just plain ignortant, mean people. I have literally dodged cars that intentionally swerved in my direction just so they could laugh as I had to leap into a gutter or nearby yard, so do not be discouraged about the throwing incident. In general, there is also a segment looking out for you whenever you are running, so the good usually outweighs the negative that comes along. The other day, I was chased by yet another wandering pitbull and two neighbors quickly bolted to assist me, so running in well populated areas also has some benefits.
If you decide to carry pepper spray, a stun gun or some other method of protection, get a professional opinion (military or law enforcement) about quality and fully prepare yourself to use it in an emergency situation. Your comfort level is the most important factor, so just evaluate those issues, ask others, and make a plan to reduce the risks.
Finally, never underestimate your own instincts. If you get a strange feeling, turn around early, go another direction, stop and walk, take your headphones off and so on.
Wishing you every safe venture and all the best.
I agree with Jasko that the pros and cons of street running are more of a wash. At least you are more likely to get help if anything goes wrong. Less second chances out on a trail when they know you are alone. Someone in town disappeared? Might still be someone in town that disappeared them.
I was once pelted by a 40mph slurpee while running on the street, on Halloween night of course. Never happened before or since. One thing that helped me was running with traffic instead of against it. If I had been running toward that same slurpee instead of away from it, I might have lost an eye. As it is, I only had minor lacerations when the cheap cup broke my skin and drew a little blood - on my upper back. Better than taking it head-on. It's harder for someone to draw a bead on you from the other direction, too.
I'd get back out there where even the weirdos aren't too sure nobody's watching. Maybe you got your bad luck up front, and it will never happen again!