I asked a range of runners online for their top tips for staying safe whilst running. The usefulness of the advice they gave depends on your personal circumstances and where you live. I’m grateful that in the UK, no-one suggested carrying a gun for personal protection. I’m also grateful that I’ve never had to consider what I’d do if I came face-to-face with a mountain lion!
Winter can be tough for runners as the shorter daylight hours mean that long training runs often have to take place in the dark. It’s important that you stay safe from traffic, animals and people wanting to hurt you.
- Make sure that you’ve adequate protection against the elements, whether that’s clothing to keep you cool and help you avoid heat exhaustion or whether you need to keep warm and dry
- In low light, wear a high-vis vest or other reflective clothes
- At night, Wear a head torch
- Don’t wear headphones. If you must, take one ear out or wear Aftershokz bone-conducting headphones
- Avoid having a long ponytail that can be grabbed; tuck it under a hat
Run with others if you can
There’s safety in numbers. You are far less likely to be attacked if you’re with others. Also, if you have an accident, then people you are with can call for help or assist you in getting to a safe place.
- Run with friends
- Join a running group
- Run with a dog
- If the above options aren’t available to you, consider buying a treadmill or joining a gym
Take extra measures if you have to run alone
- Don’t run in the dark unless you have to
- Consider whether it’s appropriate to carry something such as pepper spray or a rape alarm
- Carry your phone with you
- Have an emergency contact number on you
- Listen to your gut feelings
- Greet everyone on trails. Attackers don’t like to be noticed by people
- One of the last tips that someone shared with me was “Be faster than anyone who wants trouble!” It’s easier said than done.
Let someone know your route, distance, approx time etc
If you have to run alone, then if you can let someone know where you are going and when you should return home, they can raise the alarm if you don’t return on time. An alternative is to make use of one of the many trackers that are now available:
As a bonus, you may also want to think about installing what3words app in case you do get lost or injured.
Choose your route carefully
- Choose well-lit routes
- Run in well-populated areas
- Regularly change routes; don’t be predictable
- Be aware of your surroundings – look ahead, along the sides of paths and behind
- Know where you are; don’t get lost
What have I missed?
I’ve shared a lot of tips, but I’m sure there’s more that we can do to look after ourselves. What advice can you share about staying safe whilst running?