As a passionate runner gearing up for late fall and winter races, with the heat beginning to fade in Texas, I can't help but feel the exhilaration of hitting the trails during this beautiful season, while prioritizing winter running safety.
The crisp air, the vibrant colors, and the serenity of the outdoors all make for an unforgettable running experience, especially after enduring triple digit temperatures for a long summer.
However, there's an important aspect that I can’t forget when planning my races: safety.
This year, my sister and I decided to take on these scenic running trails together, as we're both enthusiastic about several upcoming races we are doing together.
Yet, as we explored some of the most breathtaking running routes here in Dallas, we had to stop and have a candid discussion about our safety plan.
The sad truth is that, when it comes to women's safety on these trails, there are more articles on the internet about potential dangers than we'd like to admit.
Our Choice: Well-Lit Trails and Running Partners
The first decision we made was to stick to well-lit trails, even if it meant sacrificing some of the more picturesque but less secure routes.
Safety had to come first. We also made a pact to run together whenever possible, during the middle of the day.
Yes, this will be harder to fit into our busy schedules, but it is a must in order to have a safe run.
There's an unspoken strength in running with a partner, someone you trust, who shares your passion, and who's there to watch your back.
Keeping Loved Ones in the Loop
Before setting out, we recognize the significance of keeping someone in the loop about our whereabouts.
Each time we go for a run, we brief a family member about our planned route, how long we expect to be out, and our estimated return time.
Using tracking apps on our smartphones to share our live location offers an extra safeguard, ensuring someone always knows our position.
This responsibility often falls on our mom; she cherishes tracking her grown "chicklings", giving her a sense of connection and peace.
Moreover, it's like having a personal cheerleader from afar.
On my lengthier runs, I thoroughly enjoy receiving uplifting messages from family, which are relayed through my headphones, spurring me on.
Personal Safety Items as Essentials
When I go for a run, I like to have something for self-defense on hand, while my sister opts for a pepper spray gun.
Neither choice is superior; what's crucial is being prepared and having a strategy for protection.
Incorporating safety items like whistles, alarms, or pepper spray into your running routine can offer added peace of mind and act as deterrents.
We've trained ourselves to use these not just as mere accessories, but as essential tools to ensure our safety.
Vigilance and Connectivity
During our runs, we've become more vigilant about our surroundings.
We keep our headphones at a lower volume or stick to using just one earbud, so we can stay alert to what's happening around us.
A popular headphone that allows you to easily listen to music and still hear your soundings are Shokz, bone conduction headphones.
Our smartphones are a constant companion, both for communication and navigation, should we need it.
Changing Things Up
To avoid becoming too predictable, I have made the effort to change my running routes and times.
I don't want anyone with ill intentions to be able to predict my patterns. Variety adds an element of unpredictability to my routine.
Listening to Our Intuition
First and foremost, we've honed our instincts and become adept at reading our surroundings.
Based on this, we've learned to set clear boundaries. If at any point during our run something feels off, we immediately adjust our path or seek help.
Ensuring our safety trumps any goal related to distance or speed.
Concealed Carry as an Option
To be frank, the notion of running with a firearm was daunting at first.
The thought of dedicating substantial time to master on-body carry while running was overwhelming.
Initially, the idea of stashing my firearm in my purse, away from my body, felt less daunting and provided a sense of relief.
Yet, I soon grasped the risks associated with not having a self-defense tool immediately accessible during my runs.
I recognized that if I was willing to invest time in learning off-body carry, I needed to do the same for on-body carry.
Balancing motherhood and personal time is a challenge; setting aside moments for runs and training already stretches my schedule thin.
Adding visits to the gun range seemed almost insurmountable.
However, the harrowing thought of my children growing up without their mother spurred me into action.
To make it more manageable, my husband and I transformed our gun range sessions into unique date nights.
Navigating this was a process, demanding patience and persistence to pinpoint solutions aligning with my comfort and security needs.
After testing various concealed carry leggings, Alexo Athletico emerged as my top choice.
These leggings strike the perfect balance between providing the compression I prefer in workout gear and versatile concealed carry functionalities.
For many women, incorporating concealed carry into their running regimen offers an extra layer of safety.
This decision is intimate and multifaceted, necessitating in-depth training, conscientious firearm stewardship, and compliance with local directives.
If you're contemplating this avenue, it's essential to undergo rigorous firearm training and secure the appropriate permits.
A Safe Winter Season
As we prepare for late fall and winter races, we're not only training our bodies but also sharpening our safety skills.
By following these personal safety measures, we've found a way to enjoy the beauty of the season while prioritizing our well-being.
Running with these precautions in mind has brought us a sense of empowerment and security that allows us to embrace our shared passion with confidence.
So, to all the women out there hitting the trails this season, stay safe, stay vigilant, and keep running!