These days you get your workouts in when you can and for those of us who don't want to do them indoors, we want to do so safely. If you love a good solo workout or your schedule simply doesn't allow for you to meet with your usual workout buddies, here are our top tips for staying safe during solo outdoor activity.
Workout with your pet
Why not consider taking along your favourite furry buddy to have a workout with you? They are not only fun but can also act as a fantastic deterrent to someone bothering you.
Keep others in the loop
Always let other people know when you're going out, where you are going and what time you expect to be back. It is a great idea to check in with those people and let them know you've returned safely if you don't live together. This advice is even more important if you are working out in remote environments.
Throw on GPS tracking
This is more applicable if you are working out in a remote place, however, it never hurts to have a record of where you have been in case you come into trouble and need help. We know someone who went trail running in a remote location and got lost. They were updating their position and that they needed help via Strava as they didn't have mobile phone reception. This is why they were found. Do not underestimate how useful GPS tracking can be.
Run familiar routes - but vary the pattern
It is safest for you to have some favourite haunts you know well, that you can duck out of in a few different ways if you get into trouble, but are still mobile. Our advice is to vary the time and days that you workout in these places so you don't form a recognisable pattern. Also, if you use a tracker like Strava that has maps of your GPS activity, consider setting up privacy zones around places like home, family/friend's houses or work.
Where you can, choose these familiar places that are in populated areas, although stay away from hazardous routes like shoulders of roads and other places with a lot of road traffic.
We love trails as much as the next runner/hiker/cyclist but you need to be extra vigilant when you're out on trails. We recommend that if you decide to workout in an area that is scarcely populated or remote do not explore these places for the first time alone. Take someone experienced with you the first few times and then take baby steps by yourself to build your experience.
Maintain and take your gear with you
Obviously, depending on what exercise you're doing your gear requirements will change. Some general gear to consider taking with you is:
Mini first aid kit including at least 3 snake bandages.
Any medications you need regularly (think, for example, items like aspirin or asthma inhalers) and wear medic alert jewellery.
Basic food and water requirements.
Foil blanket and (depending on weather predictions) lightweight waterproof jacket.
Charged mobile phone and charged portable charger.
Bank card or money and ID.
If you engage in cycling activities, in addition to your helmet, you may also want to consider taking:
A little toolkit so you can change or fix different parts on your bike if needed, such as spoke key, allen keys, screwdriver, chain breaker, etc.
Before you go out make sure that all of your bike equipment is well maintained.
Go "with" someone
If you don't like working out side by side with someone (maybe that's your 'you time' and that's perfectly okay) but like the idea for safety reasons, try meeting with someone at a particular point (such as a local parkrun course), agreeing to run/walk/cycle your own workout for an agreed period of time but to have check ins with them along the way. It can be an amazing motivation and confidence boost just to have someone to meet up with and walk back to your car with while having the freedom of doing your own workout.
Be aware of your surroundings
Being aware of your environment and not becoming complacent is a huge risk reduction technique. Small actions like not wearing headphones or listening to music on low volume can make a big difference.
Also, be aware of yourself in your surroundings. Particularly if you work out at night, look for routes with good lighting and be visible with your clothing choices. Also consider taking something with you that makes noise - a whistle, a personal alarm, anything loud that can draw attention to yourself.
Consider self defence
You could take some self defence classes to teach yourself how to get out of some common, tricky situations. Our biggest tip if you do this is to make sure that you practice these regularly so that they become second nature to you in how you react to particular situations. While we would never recommend that someone take a weapon with them, you could consider holding onto your keys as they could be handy for self-defence purposes.
Trust your gut
Finally, trust yourself. You're not daft, if something doesn't feel right trust your gut and get out of there! You're picking up on that energy for a reason.
Have you got another top safety tip that we've missed? Feel free to comment so that other awesome Runnovators can get the benefit of your wisdom.
Have fun out there and stay safe!
Nic & Craig