Recently I took a new job so I no longer work in Philadelphia. Philadelphia is a beautiful city to run in and for a few years I would run many times a week on my lunch hour. Our office was located right off of the Schuylkill River Trail. I would run right out of our back door down the alley turn the corner on to 24th Street and then pick up the River Trail on Locust Street or via the dog Park if a Train was blocking the trail entrance. The trail is often filled with other runners, walkers and bikers so I typically felt safe there. There were a few incidents with hooligans messing with runners so they started having more of a police presence on the trail and that made everyone feel even safer.
I am now running in West Chester PA. My safety concerns are far different here than they were in the city. The office I am working on now is located on the corner of two major highways. The neighborhoods around the office have no sidewalks so now I’m more afraid of being hit by a texting driver than I am of being mugged. I feel it is always important for us to be aware of our surroundings especially while running. I never wear headphones while running. I always want to be able to hear what is going on in the world around me. I want to hear a dog barking or a car coming up behind me. People always ask me how do I run without headphones but the truth is I actually enjoy the sound of my breath and the sound of my feet hitting the earth and all of the many sounds of nature. It makes me feel more safe not having anything distracting my sense of hearing. I have plenty of other opportunities to jam out so running is my time to reflect more on my movements and my thoughts.
Another tip I always I feel is important for staying safe is to let someone know when you are leaving and when you think you should be back. I know things can change but just give someone a ballpark time range on when you will be back. I typically will text my husband or a girlfriend and tell them when I am running and when Im back and I also let the guys at my office know. When I do long training runs I will actually share my location with someone so they can see where I am if they need to.
I know there are more safety tips I should be using myself now that I am not longer running on sidewalks or running trails I should be wearing more reflective gear so I’m going to invest in a super cool reflector vest to wear while I run at work on my lunch break. The other day I had a man honking at me all crazy for running down the side of the street. You would have thought he never seen someone running before. It was not a busy street at all but I guess its not common to see runner or even walkers out this way. I got spoiled running in the city.
I started to reach out to people in a running group to get some other suggestions on where to run near my office. Im hoping to be trying some new safer routes soon. Remember to always be aware of your surroundings do your homework. Check out trail maps online before you run use google earth as well.
Stay safe and stay healthy!