Safer Roads Together
8 October 2020
Triny Willerton Tells Her Story
"My name is Triny Willerton. I have been a Newton Running Ambassador for the last four years and have been running for the previous twelve. I was not an active person until after the birth of my last baby in 2008. I found myself depressed in a body that I didn't recognize. So, I joined a program at my gym, changed my nutrition, and started working out. At first, I only wanted to get fit and lose the baby weight, but a friend convinced me to run in a Turkey Trot with her. That is all it took, and I was hooked after that. My workouts quickly turned into longer training sessions, and within a year, I was at the start line of my first Half Ironman triathlon. I have participated and competed in multiple running races and triathlons, including the Boston Marathon and the Ironman World Championship in Kona since then.
Two years ago, I was riding my bike training for Ironman Boulder; I was struck from behind by a careless driver with an F150 truck. He nearly killed me; I spent six days in the hospital and sustained over 12 fractures all over my body. As I recovered, I realized many things needed to change with our current laws and the relationship between motorists and vulnerable users. I decided to do something about it and created a movement called #itcouldbeme. Today we have over 80 ambassadors worldwide working passionately to create safer roads for everyone."
Triny's tips to stay safe while you are on a run:
Face the traffic
When you run or walk, always do it facing traffic. It is a crucial strategy so you can see if there is potential danger coming. You can't control if a driver is careless or distracted, but you can react if you face them and see them approaching. Derrell Lyles from the U.S. Department of Transportation makes it official: "Walk on sidewalks, if available; if no sidewalk, walk facing traffic." This is the recommendation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.Â
Try to make yourself as visible as possible. During the day, wear bright colors. If you are running at dusk, dawn, or at night wear a flashing light or reflective/led light vest.
Most of our running gear has reflective details, and so do our beautiful Newtons.
Don't be predictable
You never know who might be watching you and what you are doing. The best way not to become a victim is to be unpredictable. Try switching things up with your running routes and times. If possible, have several options and try not to run them on the same days and times.
Share your location
Always let someone you trust know where you will be running. Multiple apps can track you as you run. If you have an iPhone, all you have to do is share your location, and that person will know where you are. You can also share your location on Google Maps, Garmin Connect, and Strava, to name a few. If anything ever happens, your loved ones will know where to find you.
On that same note, make sure you adjust your privacy settings on Strava and other apps that share your running and cycling routes to "hide your house or office" that way, strangers won't be able to see where you live or work. You can also choose to make your activities private or select precisely who gets to see them.
Don't run alone
Running with a friend or a group is so much fun. It also brings on many benefits, among them accountability, camaraderie, and safety. If anything happens, you will always have each other to rely on and help. If you can't connect with a friend or a group, try running with your dog. I have been running with my dogs for years and feel very safe. I have golden doodles, so not the most threatening, but I think they perceive things I might not. A person with a dog will always be more challenging to attack than one alone.
Trust your Instincts!
This is HUGE. I can not stress this enough. If you are running and you get a bad feeling about something, LISTEN to it. A few years ago, I was running in Boulder on a path. I encountered an overpass at 11 am on a perfectly beautiful day. Everything within me said not to go underneath, and so I made a u-turn. Later that night, I saw on the news that they had arrested a man who was mugging people on the overpass I mentioned! We have very acute instincts. We have to learn to trust them.
Ideally, you will be able to run without music to be 100% alert of what is going on around you. I understand this might be a challenge, as we all love our music. If you must run with music, make sure you can hear ambient sounds to know what is happening around you. Try to leave one of your ears free, for example.
If you are ever in a situation where you feel you are in danger, SCREAM. Make as much noise as you possibly can. There are some devices out there like, birdie, they are easy to carry and will activate a 130db siren and flashing strobe light at the touch of a button. I strongly recommend taking a self-defense class as well. Newton offered a free series last year, and taking part was one of the best things I have done. The class gave me the information and confidence to know what to do if I was ever attacked.
Each time you leave your house, plan, and be prepared so you can have the best and safest run.
Learn more about Triny Willerton and her organization, It Could Be Me, at https://www.itcouldbeme.org/