By Cally Silberbauer; Photograph by Freepik.com
South Africa has some of the best running trails in the world, but sadly for us it’s not always safe to head out by yourself. Especially as a woman. So why run alone? Say hello to South Africa’s biggest women-only running group, Catch Me If You Can. We caught up with them (they’re always running!?), and secured the low-down on the most critical running safety tips for the trails. You need to read this before heading out…
Running Safety Tip 1: Always be alert.
We all love to run with some tunes in our ears, but this can make you more distracted and less focused on where you are and what’s happening. If you need the music to get you moving, keep the volume down and remember to keep your eyes wide open at all times.
Running Safety Tip 2: Run in a group.
You know the saying: safety in numbers. Gather your friends, or download the new CMIYC app, find a group near you and get running.
Running Safety Tip 3: Watch the time.
It’s always best to head out for a run when there’s daylight: after sunrise and before sunset. If this isn’t an option for you, make sure you follow tip number two and hit the tar in a well-lit area.
Running Safety Tip 4: Always trust your instincts.
Women’s intuition. You’ve got it for a reason – so use it. If you think something looks suspicious, or you get an uneasy feeling about someone, you’re probably right.
Running Safety Tip 5: Use your voice.
So they say we talk too much? Use that voice if you get into a tight spot. Even if it’s just an uneasy feeling, don’t feel embarrassed to let people know. Shouting ‘fire’ might sound a little ridiculous now, but it definitely does get people’s attention. Rather silly than sorry, right?
Running Safety Tip 6: Leave your valuables at home.
Okay, so leaving that phone at home might be tough, especially if you love a good workout selfie. Plus: it’s good to have it on you in case you need to get hold of someone. Make sure you have emergency contacts on speed dial,, but keep the phone hidden. Headphones are a bit of a problem here too – they give away the fact that you have a phone or music device on your person. Consider replacing them with wireless earphones that are a little more incognito.
Running Safety Tip 7: Run with Confidence.
Don’t look like an easy target. Run with purpose, stand tall, keep your head up and focus on where you’re going. Make eye contact with people you pass. You can smile if you want to though – no need to give anyone the cold shoulder. Let people know you’re a force to be reckoned with.
Running Safety Tip 8: Know your routes.
Finally, know more or less where you’re going. And if you do get lost, try not to look it.
Catch Me If You Can is an initiative, and now also an app, founded by Sabrina Walter. She started the group to make sure SA women can run safely. It began with the dream that women all over the country can connect and form friendships while hitting the trails and getting fit. A CMIYC app has recently been launched that connects members with leaders in all our major cities. The group has 15 300 members and it’s growing fast, so if you’re worried about running alone or just starting out, join them.