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April 23, 2021

This blog has been written to go with the Run to the Hills Podcast sponsored by Chia Charge

Here are some simple security tips for looking after yourself when out running. Follow the PACER mnemonic

 run to the hills podcast run safely

Plan you run:

  • Think about the rough route you’re going to follow and how much time it will take you and tell somebody when to expect you back. They should have a good idea on when they should raise the alarm or send out the search parties if you haven’t returned in a set period of time.
  • Have a quick look at key places on your run route that you can identify as you run (key features if in the wild like rivers, bridges, hills or key crossroads, pubs, in built up areas) Try to identify places you can find refuge in if you run into trouble or you need to find help.
  • Identify some alternative routes if possible so that you can have a plan B already in mind if you run into trouble.

 

Avoid patterns

  • Don’t set patterns and present a target:
  • Criminals target know routes to prey on innocent people as well. If you are setting patterns by running exactly same route at same time, it may provide an opportunity for somebody to target you.

 

Communicate:

  • Always have a means of comms on you which is fully charged (especially on long runs). Essential for safety if out in the wilds and really useful if in trouble. Have a look at apps available for emergency calls and tracking which can be useful for loved ones seeing where you’ve got to. If abroad, always be aware of number for emergency services.

 

Ensure awareness: (Biggest part of security is about situational awareness)

-             You want to enjoy your run but you want to be safe. If you’re going to be on full alert all the time you’re going to be exhasuted and not enjoy your run - After all you’re not Kevin Costner in bodyguard so try to use the traffic light system to raise and lower your alert state depending on your surroundings and the likelihood of a problem occuring. If you’re in wide open spaces in broad daylight and you can clearly see no trouble on the horizon, adopt a green mentality. If you’re running at night in a dark part of town with a couple of people hanging round a cash machine suspiciously, adopt a red alertness. Try to gauge your surroundings and adapt your level of alertness accordingly. Remember this when planning your route. This will help you visualize the areas you need to raise your alertness.

-             If you’re running a route you know well, don’t be complacent – remain aware of changes in your surroundings, especially if you’re running at a different time of day (could you get disoriented when running a familiar route at night, would you run through some areas at different times of day, busy street on market day? Isolated industrial areas at night?)

-             If you don’t know the area you’re running in, do some research, ask the local running club of some good safe routes or the hotel staff if travelling, plan your route carefully (google maps, etc).

-             Be aware that you will be potentially tired and hungry and therefore less aware of your surroundings potentially. Also don’t have earphones in. This reduces your situational awareness massively and allows people to approach more easily.

 

Rely on your gut:

  • Your gut is your best friend. Trust it! It is built on all the unconscious signals that your brain is picking up from your surroundings as well as your experince.  It tells you when things don’t look right. In Security we talk about the presence of the abnormal or the absence of the normal: are the lights out in a street which is normally well lit, are there crowds gathering where normally it’s a peaceful street, is there nobody in a park where normally there are kids out playing?

 

When there is doubt, there is no doubt- Change your route, seek shelter and avoid the area of concern and communicate asap when safe to do so. Worst case you feel a bit embarrassed for getting spooked but you may well have avoided a significant incident which could have been far worse. Most victims say: ‘well I knew it wasn’t quite right but I carried on anyway’ Listen to your gut!

 

PACER - PLAN, AVOID PATTERNS, COMMUNICATE, ENSURE AWARENESS, RELY ON YOUR GUT

 

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