As a young woman living in Chicago, I use a variety of social media tools to keep me safe while running. I create my routes on WalkJogRun, check-in at different locations on foursquare, tweet, and text on the run. In this blog post, I will explore these different social media outlets, and explain why they work to help me feel safe on the run.
Email your route to someone
If I know I'm going out on a run in the dark alone, I try to make sure I map it out on WalkJogRun. Once I've created the route, I click “Route Actions” and scroll down to
“Email.” The form then allows you to write a personal note to whoever you're sending it to. I send it to my mom and say, I'm running this 5 mile loop at 8:00 tonight. If anything were to happen to me, there is a record of where I was. If you don't have a free account on WalkJogRun, you really should sign up!
Check-in on foursquare
I'm also an active user of the foursquare iPhone app. People have created check-ins everywhere on foursquare. Every few miles into a run, I will check in at a new location. I've found locations as specific as, “the bridge at Fullerton Street.” This is another way for people to know where I am. If anything were to happen, they would also know my last location. I think this is important not only because of the risk of predators, but runners may twist an ankle, or any other number of things. I also never accept people as friends on foursquare that I don't know. I think in the world of social media, this is an important thing to remember. I've had a few friend requests on the app from people using an avatar I didn't know or recognize. Don't accept those people as friends.
Tweet on the run
I use the Twitter app on my phone religiously. Sometimes foursquare will allow you to post to Twitter. This may not be the smartest thing to do while out for a run alone. I do see Twitter as beneficial, to discuss where you are in the run in terms of mileage. When I needed to go for 8+ mile runs during my marathon training, I would tweet what mile I was on. This can be good, especially for those you e-mailed your route to. They will know how far you made it in a route if anything happened. I also love getting tweeted back, and having discussions on the run through Twitter. The main reason not to post all your foursquare check-ins to Twitter is if you have a public profile, which I do. Sometimes the frequent tweeting causes me to lose a few followers on Twitter. I'm okay with that ;).
Text your friends
When I was training for the Chicago Marathon, I needed to do my 20 mile run after 5 pm. I used my phone to text message my friend every ten to fifteen minutes. He knew I was training for the marathon and would encourage me to keep me going and make it to 20 miles. I would also include where I was, for example, “I just hit 15 miles. I'm at the tennis courts past the Belmont Harbor.” Running that 20 miles alone was tough. I called a few different friends and just talked on the phone while running. Not only did this keep me safe, but it provided encouragement from the friends I talked to telling me to keep running.
Use common sense
All of these tools really help me feel at ease while on a run by myself. My best friend and training partner currently lives out of state for graduate school. I plan on looking into different running groups around the city. But for now, as a woman with friends who don't exactly like to run, this is a great strategy. It's also very convenient because it allows me to still do the runs when I want to.
Don't take these social media tools and strategies as a way to avoid common sense. Trust your gut. If you are in a situation or area that you don't feel right about, run away from it. When running alone at night, I always suggest running on sidewalks and busy streets that are filled with lots of people. These strategies are simply an added layer of protection on top of the common sense I use already.
Do you have tips of your own for keeping safe on the run? Share them below!