Exactly How To Tell If A Stranger You Pass On Your Run Is Dangerous

Potentially life-saving advice every woman should know...


Tim Larkin |

Since your brain – not your muscles – is your ultimate weapon against violence, try some of these exercises to strengthen your intuition. It’ll help you sense whether that stranger you encounter on your walk or run is a real threat, or not…

Practise People-Watching

At its root, your intuition is partially your subconscious ability to recognise something your conscious thoughts haven’t caught up with yet. Sit on a park bench or grab a seat at an outdoor café or mall food court. Focus on the details of people walking by – what shoes is he wearing? Is she wearing an appropriate coat for the weather? Is he wearing a wedding ring? How quickly is she walking?

READ MORE: 8 Critical Safety Tips Every Female Runner Should Know

Create scenarios about where people are going, what they’re shopping for, how happy they are in their relationships or in their jobs. It’s not about being accurate – you’ll never know whether you are – but about noticing a higher level of detail that might give you critical information someday.

Study Facial Expressions

“Microexpressions”, or unintentional facial expressions that flit across our faces in about one-fifteenth of a second, are important clues for recognising who’s a threat. Psychologists have found that women are better at registering lightning-fast shifts in facial microexpressions.

READ MORE: Why Are We Not Talking About The Danger Of Running As A Woman?

One of the most important expressions to look for is contempt, which is characterised by a sneer. You can practise spotting microexpressions at websites such as PaulEkman.com (you’ll need to pay for a training package) or take a free two-minute test at MicroExpressionTest.com.

Meditate Every Day

Even for just 10 minutes. Consistent meditators tend to be more attuned to details in the moment. They also practise “noticing” their thoughts and emotions, which can make them less likely to freeze up in scary situations, because they’re in touch with their instinctual emotions but not ruled by them.

Excerpted from Survive the Unthinkable: A Total Guide to Women’s Self-Protection (Rodale, 2013) by Tim Larkin.

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