While I was running in my neighborhood on Tuesday, I noticed strange van coming towards me.  As the van approached me, it began to slow down significantly and the male driver rolled the passenger- side window down.  I continued running in the opposite direction of the van, giving the van little attention, and the van eventually drove off.  About a ¼ of a mile later, I noticed that the van had turned around and was heading back towards me.  The van slowed down significantly again as it approached me and the passenger-side window was rolled down again.  At this point, out of an abundance of caution, I called my husband on my cell phone and gave him the description of the van and the male driver, as well as my location and what had occurred. 

As I was walking and talking to my husband, I noticed that the van had again turned around and was approaching me from behind.  I had my husband on speaker phone and made it very obvious that I was on the phone with someone.  The van drove past me.  I continued to talk to my husband until I returned to the front of the neighborhood and was near my more familiar neighbors’ houses.  At that point, I did not see the van anymore, I felt more comfortable, and I was headed in the direction of my house.    

This incident made me reflect on the safety measures that I have used while out in my neighborhood walking.  I wanted to share a few of these with you so that you can be safer while you are outside MOVING YOUR BODY!

  1. Stay in well-lit areas where there is a good amount of traffic.  Additionally, be aware of where your known neighbors live and have a plan if something should happen while you are out walking.
  2. Walk/run with a friend, when possible.
  3. Carry your cell phone with you at all times.  Two main reasons for this: a) You can call someone in an emergency.  You can call 911 if you are hurt or in danger or you can call someone else if you are just feeling uneasy with the situation, like I was. b) Most all cell phones have GPS capabilities these days.  If yours does, make sure the GPS feature is turned on.  This may provide a very valuable clue if you are missing.
  4. Be aware of the people and vehicles in your area at all times.   If someone seems to be lurking around you or driving past a number of times or just generally making you uncomfortable, note the person’s description and the situation either in your phone or to someone on the phone as soon as possible and get out of the area or walk to a neighbor’s house that you know is home and knock on the door.
  5. Listen to your gut.  If your gut is telling you that something is wrong, it probably is.  I prefer to err on the side of being overly cautious, instead of neglecting to protect myself in a bad situation.
  6. Do not impair your senses.  A lot of people ask me what kind of music I listen to while I am walking/running.  While I can definitely see some benefits to listening to music while working out, when I am by myself outside, I do not want to impair my sense of hearing at all.  Your ears can be a very valuable tool.  Therefore, I do not listen to any music while I am walking/running.  I listen to nature and the various noises and happenings around my neighbors’ houses.
  7. Texting/Posting pictures on Facebook- While I am walking, I do text and post to Facebook quite a bit.  First, it makes the time and distance go by quickly.  Secondly, it creates a log and time stamp of the time and location every time I post.  If something were to happen to me, my last post could provide some idea as to where I was and possibly what was going on.  BEWARE: while you are texting or posting you must remain aware of your surroundings!  Running into low hanging limbs or tripping over a stray trash can or bicycle could happen if you are not paying attention.
  8. Get a cell phone application, like Endomondo, that tracks your route and speed through GPS and make sure that it is turned on.  Every time I walk, I turn on my Endomondo and the application tracks the distance, speed, and specific route as I walk.  Again, if something were to happen to me, my exact location could be tracked through that application.
  9. Have a recent picture of yourself and clothing description available.  I am sure many of my Facebook friends have made fun of me for posting so many pictures.  There are many reasons why I do that, but one reason why I take and post pictures before I go for a walk/run is for the reasons noted above.  If something were to happen to me, there is a very recent picture, possibly even a picture of the exact way I was looking when I left the house that day. 
  10. Make sure someone knows where you are going and the route you intend to take.  Before leaving for a walk/run, I let my husband know where I am going and if I will be altering my normal route that day.  Even when I was in college, when I left campus, if I was not able to tell one of my roommates where I was going, I would write a note saying where I was headed and leave it on my bed.   

I am sure some of these things make me sound paranoid, but I would rather be safe than sorry.  I would rather make it easy for someone to locate me if I am hurt or missing.  I am notorious for injuring myself and I have had two stalking incidents in my life.  I have learned quite a bit about safety from both of them.  I say this a lot, but please learn from my experiences.  Protect yourself and be safe while you MOVE YOUR BODY!

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2 Responses to Outdoor Walking/Running Safety Tips

  1. Jessica says:

    Great job Kristy! These tips are very important and a lot of people don’t take the necessary precautions to keep themselves safe. I am lucky, my neighborhood is rather small and I know the names of everyone that lives here BUT one thing that should be mentioned: Not all of the homes in my neighborhood are occupied. This presents several additional dangers. There is increased traffic from people looking at houses for sale so it is easy to overlook potential dangers. I thought this was important to mention because not all bad guys are dressed poorly and missing teeth. They can look like the realtors that are showing homes in your area too and therefore not set off the creepy-meter. One of the things that I do to stay safe is to take my dogs with me when it isn’t too hot for them. They help deter people from coming near me because though they are small, they bark loudly and what may look like a cute little dachshund to most, could be a vicious attack dog.

  2. Lurline says:

    Very good article, I enjoy posts from you.

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