Body Found Off Vaucluse Road in Aiken: A body was found early this morning off Vaucluse Road at Senn Street in Aiken. The Aiken County Sheriff's Office says a deputy was patrolling…

Yesterday, news hit very close to home about a female found dead on the University of Georgia campus.  Athens is just a short drive down the road from Augusta.  But the news hit even more after learning the woman was an Augusta University nursing student. Authorities were called around noon after the woman had not returned from a run she left for earlier yesterday morning. As a runner myself, this was just another scary incident that left me anxious about my own running plans and thinking about safety tips for runners.

My thoughts and prayers are with the woman’s family and friends.  I can’t imagine what they’re going through right now.  I also hope that law enforcement will be able to quickly determine what happened, and find the person(s) behind it. It’s so sad that this is the world we live in, where a person can’t even go out to exercise without the fear of something bad happening.

Running Alone

I’ve been running for years now. Unfortunately, most of my running is done solo since I don’t have any running friends. I do have a treadmill at home, which is where I have done many runs.  And I use the treadmill a lot more than I’d ideally like to.  But when it’s dark or raining, it is a convenient option that allows me to still get my exercise done. There’s also not a sidewalk in my neighborhood to run on. Plus, my neighborhood is pretty small, so I have to run the same route over and over to get any sort of mileage.

When I’m not running in my neighborhood or on the treadmill, I have done many runs on the Greeneway in North Augusta. While I feel mostly safe on the Greeneway, I will admit that when it’s early and there aren’t many people around, it can be a little scary. There are also some stretches on the path that aren’t close to homes or stores.

At some point, North Augusta did go through and put markers on the path with letters and numbers to have as a reference for where you are.  I was glad to see that, because whether it’s due to criminal activity or just an injury, having those markers to let someone know where you are can help them get to you quicker.

Dangers For Runners

Of course, you want to believe that nothing bad will ever happen. And we all hope it doesn’t. But after countless stories of people attacked and killed while out running, it’s important to be vigilant and prepared.  Criminal activity can happen at any time, and anywhere.  Especially these days. Being a victim of a crime isn’t the only danger that runners face. Injury is another thing that can happen to even the most seasoned runners. Regardless of the situation, it’s good to be aware of the dangers and take precautions to prevent any major incidents.

Runner Safety Tips

That’s why after reading about the woman killed at UGA yesterday, I started looking up safety tips for runners.  Here are some steps you can take to keep yourself safe when you’re out on your next run.

  • Be Alert

    The first, and maybe the most obvious tip, is to stay alert.  You want to be aware of your surroundings.  Personally, I like to run with headphones. But I also try to keep them at a low enough volume so I can hear what’s going on around me.  Whether it’s someone coming up behind me, or an approaching car, I try to always watch my surroundings.

    Dedicated athletic woman running in nature and dawn.

  • Run With Someone

    Like I said earlier, I usually run alone because I don’t have friends who can run with me. So I know it’s not always feasible to have a running partner.  But there is power in numbers.  If you can’t run with someone, I’d suggest at least finding somewhere that usually has a lot of people around. Don’t head out to remote areas for a run! Find a busy park.  Again, I know this isn’t always possible, especially if you’re an early-morning runner.  But you definitely want to make every effort to protect yourself if you’re running solo.

    Run with friends

  • Carry Your Phone

    There are a wide variety of ways you can carry your cell phone with you these days.  There are sports bras with built-in pockets, and many leggings have pockets too. In addition, there are armbands that you can use.  One thing I frequently use is called a Flip Belt. It works perfectly for me to carry my phone, keys, and my inhaler when I run. Having your phone with you can be beneficial if you wind up injured and need to call for help.  But it’s also helpful if someone needs to pinpoint your location to get to you.

  • Vary Your Routine And Route

    If you run frequently, you might want to consider shaking things up when it comes to your routine and your route.  Unfortunately, you never know when someone may be watching you. This is similar to what a self-defense teacher taught me in college.  He said he would often take different routes home from work to throw off anyone who may be trying to predict his movements or find where he lived.  And that totally makes sense!

    young woman runner running on city bridge road

  • Self-Defense

    Having some self-defense training is beneficial whether you’re a runner or not. It’s never a bad idea to know how to protect yourself.  Various places offer self-defense courses. It can also help to carry some sort of protection with you.  I have a flashlight that also has a taser that I have used on runs when I was alone and there weren’t a lot of people out and about.  Some people prefer pepper spray or something similar.  There are many items now that are small and inconspicuous that you can carry to protect yourself.  The biggest thing is to make sure you know how to use it and feel comfortable with it.

    Self-Defense - Positive cheerful  woman is training with man on the self-defense course in gym.

  • Trust Your Gut

    Overall, you want to trust your gut.  If something doesn’t feel right, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Avoid any area where you feel unsafe. And if you see someone approaching that makes you uncomfortable, have a plan in place to redirect your route to get you in a place where you feel safe whether that’s around more people, or in a place you can protect yourself.

    Horizontal view of a danger at night

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