Staying safe while running is always important. But, now with less daylight hours approaching, we must revisit the topic. The below 10 tips for safer running focuses on creating a safer situation while running, and enabling you to focus on what you can control.
Training may force you to run before/after work in the dark, and potentially, by yourself. Safety ensures you are visible to drivers, cyclists, other runners. And, safety habits decreases the odds you are attacked or harassed when running.
10 Tips for Safer Running
1 Keep others informed. Let a family member/friend know where you are going, when you’ll return before you leave. There are a few apps as well that can keep them informed while you’re running. ROAD ID app is free, and will let recipients know if you have stopped moving for more than five minutes (as well as share your location).
2. Be aware of your surroundings. Be familiar with the area you’ve chosen, and choose well-trafficked, well-lit areas. Avoid streets with multiple alleys and multiple doors/entrances if possible. If you’re traveling, ask the hotel or a friend for a recommendation; hotels often have a route mapped out for guests. Choose a park or area where other runners/walkers are present.
3. Change it Up. Don’t be predictable! Alter your route (even if just the opposite direction), and the times you run. Don’t share on social media your running plan prior to your run if alone. Essentially, avoid enabling anyone to know your schedule; some acts are pre-meditated.
4. Run with Confidence and Trust Your Gut. Even if you don’t feel confident, act that way. Run with good posture, look anyone you pass in the eye with a loud/audible hello. Don’t act or look like a “victim.” And, don’t ignore your instincts. If you feel something isn’t right, forget your current plan; take off for a busier area, or boot the run.
More Tips for Safe Runs
5. Wear reflective gear, be “lit!” Multiple options exist – vests, lamps, knuckle lights, etc. The key is to use a combination of reflectivity and lights. Remember, reflective gear only works when a light shines upon it. Here is a great post that further elaborate on this topic.
It is not just important to be seen, but for you to see. This is a critical tip for safer running! Wear a head lamp, or some kind of device that illuminates your path. You are more likely to trip, fall when you can’t see obstacles, and allows you to better see any suspicious activity. Lastly, wear reflective gear and lights on the extremities (ie: reflective shoe laces, water bottle with reflective strips).
6. Turn your music way down. Or don’t wear it at all. Wearing music while running dampens your senses, and makes you more likely to “zone out” during a run. At minimum, if you must listen to music, wear one ear piece on low volume.
7. Take your phone! I recently heard of an incident where a 43 year-old runner died due to cardiac arrest on an early morning run. Even though she ran with a friend, neither had a phone, so a 911 call wasn’t possible.
There are also a few phone apps that enhance your safety, and are worth checking out: Road ID, BSafe, and React. Features vary from activating a siren, an SOS call, providing your location, etc. Note that some apps are free, others are not.
Visibility & Good Company
9. Be seen/be visible – Run in the opposite direction of oncoming traffic. Do not assume that a driver can see you at an intersection/cross-walk. Make eye contact with the driver before crossing. Remember, just because you have the right of way doesn’t mean they see you, or will stop. Better to be alive, then right (and run on the sidewalk!).
10. Run with a group/friend – or use the treadmill. Yes, there is (more) safety in numbers. You’re much likely to be a target if alone. If that’s not an option, consider using a treadmill. Yes, they can be boring, but “better boring/safe than sorry.”