It's rare that I actually feel uncomfortable on a run, but something really freaked me out yesterday afternoon.

At the end of December, I committed to running my fifth marathon at Lake Lowell this upcoming April.  After five months of sporadic running thanks to a nagging history, I'm getting back into the routine of running five days a week.  One of my best friends (who's also serving as my coach) took the challenge of running three miles a day everyday in January as part of a cancer fundraiser.  I'm helping her reach that goal by joining her on those runs as often as I can.  In fact, I think I've only ran by myself twice in 2018.

One of those days was Monday and something happened that freaked me out a bit.  I was running in a hilly neighborhood off of Warm Springs when I came to a street that separates into a boulevard. I always run the high side to challenge myself to a bigger hill. As I was running up that street, there was a white pick-up truck stopped in the middle of the road. When the driver saw me, they started driving forward slowly then stopped again. As I got closer, they started rolling slowly again.

They never put on the hazard lights or did anything to make me think they were simply looking for a house. I told myself if the truck was waiting at the bottom of the hill, I was going to turn around and go back up the lower side of the street where a couple of construction guys were working on a house so that I was around other people.  It could've been nothing, but something in my gut didn't feel right.

Those types of moments are a good reminder to brush up on your personal safety if you like run or walk on the Greenbelts or in you favorite neighborhood. Here's four safety tips from Road Runners Club of America (Team Run Boise is a member of their organization) and Runners Connect to make you feel more at ease while getting those steps in.

It's rare that I actually feel uncomfortable on a run, but something really freaked me out yesterday afternoon.

  • Don't Wear Headphones

    Not wearing headphones is always a good rule of thumb if you're running anywhere near traffic. Having your ears open allows you to hear approaching vehicles, dogs, etc.  In the case of being followed, you're more likely to hear breathing or footsteps approaching behind you.

  • Carry a Phone

    When it comes to getting out and getting active, I'm a total minimalist. I HATE carrying my phone with me because it weighs me down, but I bought something called a FlipBelt at Fleet Feet last year.  The wide belt keeps my phone around my waist without much movement and makes having it with me a little more bearable.  It's good to have it with you in case of an emergency, whether it's attack or something medical.  It's also good to know the locations of public telephones along your route.  There's a few of the blue safety phones along the Greenbelt by Boise State if your run/walk takes you there.

  • Run With Personal Safety Devices

    In the Treasure Valley, it's hard to imagine having to use pepper spray on anything while you're out enjoying the Greenbelt. You certainly don't need it on every run, but if you're planning to run alone in a secluded area where it'd be easy for someone to surprise you or where wildlife like mountain lions might be, you'll be happy you had it on you.

    Likewise, they also make devices that are smaller than your GPS watch or FitBit that will sound a loud alarm if you fear you're about to be attacked, hopefully scaring of the potential attacker.

  • Alter Your Routes

    The fitness app Strava has exploded in popularity over the last couple of years.  It allows runners to post a map of their route and mile splits on a small social network.  It's cool to compare your data against friends, but at the same time it reveals your normal workout patterns.

    That's why if I'm running alone, I'll never run in the same location on the same day two weeks in a row.  I don't want to make it predictable as to where I may be during a workout.  Likewise, it's always a good idea to let someone close to you like a significant other or friend know where you're going to run each day.