Did you know that Edmonton boasts over 150km of trails in the North Saskatchewan River Valley?
It’s the largest stretch of urban parkland in North America at 7,400 hectares. We are fortunate to have easy access to this trail system for running, walking, biking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Although I love to trail run, I don’t do it nearly enough. I love to walk, hike, and run them when we’re in Jasper. And I try to get out in Edmonton once in a while.
They’re easier on the joints with soft ground, they’re a nice change from mundane city running, and you connect with nature.
I’m definitely no expert on the sport. However, I think I do a decent job of safety when I run.
With so many kilometres of trails, some of them are pretty empty. Add in other factors like day of the week, time of day, and weather, and they can be downright deserted. I realize the quiet is part of the beauty of trails. But, in the middle of the city, it can also be a danger.
A young woman running alone through a densely treed area without traffic, and sometimes no foot traffic, can be a target.
Here are a few things I do to, hopefully, keep me safe when I run the trails alone:
- ALWAYS tell someone where you are going, and how long you expect to be gone. If nobody is home, leave a note or call a friend.
- Change it up. Don’t take the same route at the same time on the same day each time you go. You don’t want to be predictable in case someone notices your routine.
- Take a phone. If you run into trouble, you can hopefully make a call. Or, if you’re uncomfortable, call someone before you’re in danger. (If you do answer your phone, text someone, or even stop to take a photo, stay aware.)
- Run without music. Be fully aware of your surroundings without blocking noises out. Plus, part of trail running is the sounds of nature!
- Make eye contact if/when you pass someone, and say hello. This lets people know you are confident and that you noticed them.
- Watch other people. If you pass someone going the opposite direction, turn around after a few seconds to ensure they’re still going the opposite direction of you. Or, if you were going the same direction, turn to make sure they’re a safe distance behind.
- Don’t get too zen. My favourite part of trail running is the peace. But, if you zone out too much, you’re less likely to hear footfalls behind you or see someone on a side trail.
- Leave something in the tank. Between hills and uneven terrain, trails can take a lot out of you. I like to have a little something in the reserve in case I had to sprint or fight, without depending on adrenaline.
So maybe I sound a little paranoid! But, scary things happen to women all the time when they run alone. These tips definitely apply to running in general. I just find trail running leaves a person more vulnerable without people and/or traffic around.
Have you ever had a scary experience? Do you have any tips to add?
Other Change the Pace posts:
- Get out of your running slump
- Incorporate cycling into your every day
- Getting started – what to wear to ride a road bike
- Getting started – accessorize…your bike
- Getting started – caring for your bike
- Mountain biking tips for beginners
- Road biking and trails = Cyclocross
- Can you enjoy winter running?
- Staying warm to run when nature has other plans