Running safety has been on my mind a lot lately since I started the Runner's World summer run streak and I've been running outdoors a lot more. It's the kind of thing we tend not to think too much about until something happens to us or someone we love (or we see those scary news stories).
I had a long stretch of time when I did not run outdoors alone at all, because out of nowhere I had a weird feeling about it. I think it's important to trust our intuition. These days I run with hubby when possible and take precautions to run as safely as possible. If I feel unusually uneasy one day, I'll run on the treadmill or take a rest day. We don't need to be afraid to run, just be aware of the risks and take safety measures.
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RUN WITH A PARTNER WHEN POSSIBLE
There is safety in numbers. If possible, run with a partner, even if that partner is your dog (hi, Ollie!). I run with my husband a lot which makes me feel safer out on the streets. When he runs faster than me, I yell at him from behind to slow down or else I might get murdered back here. All joking aside, team up for safety.
IF RUNNING ALONE LET OTHERS KNOW
Let someone know when you are going on a run alone. Advise them the route you intend to run, when you are leaving and when you return. If could be someone you live with or just a text to a friend. If nothing else it gives you a legitimate reason to #runbrag.
AVOID RUNNING WITH HEADPHONES
I love running to music, especially my beloved White Stripes, but running with headphones can be dangerous. It's important to stay present and aware of our surroundings. If you can't hear that barking dog, distracted driver or possible predator approaching, you're less likely to be prepared to defend yourself. Save the headphones for the treadmill or track.
WEAR LIGHTS AND REFLECTIVE GEAR AT NIGHT
It's probably best to limit runs to daylight hours, but I know that's not always possible, especially during the winter months. When running in the dark, wear a headlamp or shoe lights and reflective gear. You may look dorky with a headlamp, but safety first, right? Right.
ALWAYS CARRY YOUR CELL PHONE
Always carry your cell phone so you can make a phone call in case of emergency or get too tired and need a ride home (wink). I use a FlipBelt that holds my personal items close to by body while I run.
CHANGE UP YOUR DAILY ROUTINE
We are creatures of habit and it can be easy to fall into a regular running route at the same time every day. It's a good idea to change up your route or the time of day. Run an hour earlier or an hour later, or on a different day than usual to change it up. Try running your regular route backwards or on different streets.
ALWAYS CARRY ID
It's an easy thing to overlook. You think that you'll be back in 30 minutes, you don't really need your ID, but if something happens, having identification and/or emergency contact information on you is crucial. You can slide your driver's license in your running belt or wear a shoe ID.
RUN ON LOW TRAFFIC STREETS AGAINST TRAFFIC
Run on low traffic streets facing oncoming traffic. It may sound counterintuitive, but when you run against traffic, you can see the traffic coming towards you and will be able to react quicker than if it was coming from behind you.
AVOID UNFAMILIAR AREAS
When running alone, avoid isolated and unfamiliar areas. You can could easily make a wrong turn and end up in an unsafe part of town. When you are out of town, ask for route recommendations from hotel staff, running stores and local runners. Know in advance who to contact in case of emergency.
CONSIDER PEPPER SPRAY OR SELF-DEFENSE CLASSES
Do you take these safety measures on your run? Any other safety tips you'd like to share? Trust your intuition, take safety precautions and run safe!
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I am a NASM personal trainer and RRCA adult distance running coach that specializes in strength training for runners. I offer in-person training in the Shredshed, online training and nutrition coaching. If you are interested in coaching, please contact me. Have questions? I'd love to help.
While I am a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach, I am not your personal trainer and nutrition coach. Since I don't know your exercise abilities, injury background or medical history, please see your doctor before beginning any new exercise or diet program. This is an opinion blog. No information in this blog is intended to be taken as medical advice or prescription. Please see your doctor and/or registered dietitian for any health concerns.