Bedford Harriers A.C.
Precautions to take while running, plus some basic etiquette.
When running with a group, ensure that all members of the group return safely. Start and finish together. If you need to finish early, let the group leader know you are leaving. On steady runs, if instructed by your coach, faster runners please remember to regularly run to the back of the slower runners. Faster runners wanting a more challenging run should try the next group up.
Never assume that because you have heard/seen a danger/obstacle that your fellow runners have. Make the call to advise them. If leading a run, set a positive example by practicing the advice set out in these guidelines
Where possible run in pairs or groups. If you haven't got anyone to run with, ask another member of the club if they will run with you.
Whenever you venture out, even if it is for only 20 minutes, you should always let someone know where you're going, your exact route and approximately how long you expect to be. If you're heading out from an empty home or office, call a friend, partner or relative to advise them of your plans, and call them again to check in when you return
Plan your routes carefully. By this we don't mean you should avoid your favourite routes because they go across remote areas or miss out on some spectacular scenery, but that you should take care with your choice. Try to limit danger points on your runs. For example, areas where you would be difficult to spot if you had a fall or injury, dark alleyways, or known local black spots
Carry some form of identification with you. Bedford Harriers provide wrist bands on which you can write your name and emergency contact for free. A business card or piece of paper with your details on will do, or write the information in your shoe. Cram Tags that you can add your personal details to that tie in to your shoe laces are available from most running shops. (Advance Performance in Peterborough/Cambridge sell them for £1 and funds go to charity). This means that if something does happen to you; for example; if you faint with exhaustion while running on a very hot day, you will be easily identified and your family or friends can be notified to come and help you out.
Always face oncoming traffic (unless running round a blind bend). This way you can see oncoming vehicles and take avoiding action if necessary. On blind corners take extra care and run where you can get best visibility.
Cross roads at crossings and always be aware of traffic lights. If using a crossing, regroup before all the group crosses as one (i.e. do not press any buttons until all the group are there!). Make sure you make eye contact before with the driver before crossing in front of a car. When approaching an intersection/T-junction, make eye contact with the driver who is waiting to proceed onto the main road. If the driver does not see you, pass behind the car.
Be careful if anyone in a car asks you for directions - if you stop to answer, keep at least at arm's length from the vehicle
Walk and run with confidence and purpose. Don't concentrate on your run so much that you lose track of the time and what's going on around you.
If you run on holidays, and your routes take you out across fells or downs or similar, the Fell Runners Association (FRA) advise that you carry a bum-bag containing full waterproofs; hat, gloves, whistle and compass, and something to eat, whatever the weather. This means you can keep warm, even in exposed areas, if you have to stop or slow down.
· Circular routes are safer because you don't have to retrace your steps.
· Vary your route to minimise chances of being targeted
· Try and avoid deserted areas or places where people could easily conceal themselves. For example: paths surrounded by bushes.
· Choose well lit, populated routes, especially if you are running after dark.
· Be aware of running on cycle paths – the cyclists may not be expecting to see you. Where a path has dual use, make sure you run on the pedestrian side.
· Look for places on or near your route where you could be sure of finding people and where you could call for help. For example: shops, garages etc.
· If possible, check out your route first on foot or by car. Look to see if there are other people using your route – this is a good sign.
· See if you can run with a friend or in a group, or with a dog. Is there anyone that could perhaps cycle with you instead?
· Before agreeing to exercise with someone, take time to get to know and trust them.
· If possible, tell someone what route you are going to take and when you expect to return. You could arrange to contact them on your return, in which case you need to make sure they know what to do if you don't contact them.
What to take
· Think about what you wear. Some sportswear can attract unwelcome attention.
· Keep expensive watches or jewellery out of sight or take them off.
· Avoid hooded tops, caps or anything else that restricts your vision.
· Headphones may prevent you from hearing trouble approaching and distract you from your surroundings. Expensive equipment could also make you a target for thieves. If you really want to listen to music why not use just one headphone? If you get bored running without music, practice identifying characteristics or strangers and memorising registration numbers to keep you from "zoning out".
· A secure pocket or bum bag is a good way of keeping things out of sight and safe.
· A mobile phone will enable you to call for help or alert someone to a change in your plans, but make sure it is fully charged and hidden from view.
· If going further afield, take some money or a travel card so that you can get home if you are unable to walk or run there.
· Carrying a personal safety alarm will give you extra confidence and setting it off will shock and disorientate an attacker giving you time to get away. You need to keep your alarm handy, preferably clipped to your side and make sure that it is at least 130 decibels loud.
· If you are not totally familiar with your route then take a map (it is usually easy to print one out from the internet) or jot down some direction to put in your bum bag.
· Stay alert at all times. The more you are aware, the less vulnerable you are. Trust your instincts – if something tells you an area is ‘not safe’ it probably isn’t.
If you feel threatened
· Try not to panic. Exhale, so that you can breathe properly and reduce tension. This will help you think clearly.
· If possible, get away from the situation and head for a public place where you are likely to find people and where you could summon help. This could be a shop, garage, police station etc.
· If you are threatened for your possessions remember that your personal safety should be your number one priority. Possessions are replaceable and giving them up is often the only sensible course of action to avoid getting hurt.
· If you are trapped, your voice is often your best defence. Make as much noise as possible and shout a specific instruction such as "call the police" so people know what to do.
· If you have a personal alarm, set it off as near to your attacker's ear as possible. Alarms of 130 decibels or more will shock and disorientate an attacker and can give you vital seconds to get away.
· Verbal abuse can be very insulting but it is usually best to ignore it and keep going. If you feel threatened, head for your nearest public place.
· Dogs can be a problem and it is often difficult to tell if they are a threat or not. It is usually best not to run away from them but to stop and shout "No", "Down" or "Sit". Look for the owner and ask them to call their dog. Don’t look them in the eye, and slow down to a walk if necessary
· Report any incident to the police as soon as possible; you could help prevent someone else from becoming a victim.
· Have the key to your door ready before you reach home
Precautions to take while running at night
We always need to think about safety and being seen at night. The most important thing is to make sure you can be seen. Dark clothes and shoes can make you virtually invisible to motorists, particularly if you're trying to cross a busy road or if you're running along the edge of a narrow road without a footpath.
· Wear bright clothing and light colours; at the very least wear a white t-shirt as a top layer. You are best to look for wind jackets, tops and tights with reflective strips that are highly visible even on the darkest road.
· Alternatively, invest in a lightweight reflective running bib in a luminous colour with reflective strips around the middle. You cannot be missed in these cheap but highly effective tops that tie at the sides; even if you are padded up in many layers on the coldest of days, they will still fit.
· Watch the road - wet or icy patches are considerably harder to see in the dark
All that said, running is by no means a dangerous sport, you just need a bit of common sense.
Top tips to stay cool
· It sounds obvious, but where possible, avoid the hottest times of the day. Hard cardiovascular workouts shouldn't be performed during high temperatures, so schedule your run for early morning (before 10am) or late afternoon (after 5pm) to prevent tiredness and dehydration.
· Wear sun lotion. It's easy to get sun burnt when you're running as the breeze you create means your skins feels cooler than it actually is. If you're near water make sure you reapply your sun cream frequently.
· Wear a hat. A hat or cap will keep the heat off your neck and head and the sun out of your eyes, protecting you from wrinkles and heat stroke.
· Keep covered. Wear light clothing to avoid sunburn while you train and if you do get burnt, take it easy because you'll feel hot and dehydrate quickly without exerting too much effort.
· Drink plenty of water during the day, as you'll be sweating more than normal. Ideally drink three to four litres of water and avoid alcohol during the day.