Safety Tips for Runners – 25 Safety Tips for Runners to Follow
It’s a sad truth. Unfortunately, there are people out there that don’t pay attention when they’re driving, putting you at risk. Even worse, there are predators out there that take advantage of people like you, even as you’re running. We had a recent local occurrence of this where Travis and I live, so we thought we’d pull together a list of things that you can do to be prepared. We also reviewed this in Podcast 21.
Safety Tips for Runners – 25 tips
This grouping of tips has more to do with protecting yourself against traffic. We’ve all had close calls while running on the road. There are people who don’t pay near enough attention to their driving. This is especially true in our cell phone ridden world today. Consider these safety tips for keeping safe.
- Run facing traffic – When your mom told you to walk facing traffic, she knew what she was talking about. Seeing oncoming traffic allows you to be very aware of what’s coming your way. This is a simple and effective way to keep yourself from getting struck.
- Run in location with sidewalk/trail/berm – This one is as simple as it seems – stay as far away from the road as you can to avoid traffic whenever possible.
- Don’t assume cars can see you – It’s easy to think “I see him, so he sees me.” That isn’t always the case. In fact, motorcycles are hard for a driver to see, so imagine how difficult it is to see skinny ole’ you. Never assume a car can see you, and step off to the side and stop if you have to. There’s no shame in staying safe.
- Run in daylight when possible – Light improves vision, so daylight running is your best bet. Run in well lit areas when you can’t go during the day. This also helps with avoiding predators.
- Wear reflective clothing or safety lights – There are a lot of things you can do to make yourself visable, and these are just a couple things you can do to be when appropriate
- Unplug from your music – We did a whole segment on this in our blog Headphones or No? Unplug! – 10 Reasons to Run without Music. From a safety perspective, the more you can focus on the people not paying attention to you, the better chance you have of getting home in one piece.
- Tell someone where you are going, when you plan to be back – This is really a simple trick. Someone watching out for you means quicker response if you’re sitting in a ditch. And if they know your intended route, they can find you quickly. Anyone will do – family member, neighbor, friend, a call to your mom…
- Wear an ID tag (e.g. roadid) – In the case you are found, and perhaps unconscious, it may be handy for you to have pertinent info right there on your wrist.
- Wear appropriate clothing for climate – We talked about some tips for winter running and the importance of dressing the part in another podcast. Just make sure you stay safe by doing some weather specific planning.
Safety From Potential Predators
This is the worst kind of fear. People that have the worst intent, and will take advantage of a lone runner. Take these precautions to arm yourself against these creeps.
- Be aware of your surroundings – Someone is more apt to try and surprise you if you look like you aren’t paying attention. Like we mention above with headphones, you can easily be surprised if you aren’t ready. Pay attention to what’s around you, all the time.
- Do not go out alone – This isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Sometimes, many times, we have to go it along. Just consider joining someone else whenever possible as you are less likely to be approached in a group.
- Carry a cell phone – Maybe a no-brainer, but important for many reasons including reporting a suspicious person, calling for injury, calling because you need a ride. Keep it handy.
- Call 911 immediately when you see suspicious activity – There’s no shame in reporting someone who doesn’t look right, even if he ends up being innocent. Look out for yourself and others that may be behind or in front of you.
- Run with your dog – Maybe you can’t run with another person… Do you have a four-legged friend? If she is a good runner, and won’t stop you too often, consider taking her out with you. There is a good chance a predator won’t approach you, and if they do, a good chance they will wish they didn’t.
- Switch up your route – People who look to take advantage of you usually plan carefully, as creepy as that sounds. They watch over and over to see what your habits are and attack at the right moment. You can beat them at their own game if you can switch up what you do, when you do it, and where you do it. Try running different routes at different times of day so they don’t have a chance.
- Don’t be that specific on social media – We’ve said before that posting your workouts on social media is a good way to stay motivated. That is still the case, but be careful not to include too much info. Social media can generally be seen by lot’s of people you don’t know. If you put things like where you ran, when you ran, etc, they can use that as a means to start following you. Keep it generic, and perhaps limit your posts to people you know only.
- Trust your instincts – If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and acts like a duck… well, you know. We have instincts for a reason and they are usually right. Even if they aren’t, no one is going to blame you if you call it out and it turned out to be nothing. And if they do blame you, well, that’s their problem.
- Use technology to allow yourself to be tracked – There are many technologies, apps, etc that can allow someone to see exactly where you are. Especially if you have your phone, and have someone aware of what you are doing, they can keep dibs real-time with this technology. If something were to happen, you can be found very quickly this way.
- Mace or no mace? (or pepper spray) – Many people talk about carrying mace or pepper spray with them. That can be an effective way to get somone off your back (literally). However, as many others point out, you may very well be overpowered and if so, end up with your defense in your face (again, literally). Use your own judgement and be aware.
- Make others aware of issues you’ve had – People around the location, neighbors, people you pass – they all have an interest and a right to know what’s going on. And, they can be your biggest help for finding idiots that do this kind of thing. If you see suspicious things, tell everyone about it so they can help keep an eye out.
- Run in populated area – Like running in a group, just simply running in an area where there are lots of people can help significantly. This can be a busy neighborhood, a park where a lot of people hang out, a busy trail on the weekend.
- Learn self-defense – I’m not self-defense expert, but I do know that people have weak spots. Your best option is to take a self-defense class and get expert advise on what to do if you’re attacked. There are a ton of these offered just about everywhere. In the meantime, use the hardest parts of your body like your elbows, knees, knuckes, and head and go for the most sensitive areas like nose, neck, groin, eyes, and ears.
- Do a non-grabbable hair-do – Things like ponytails are easy for someone to grab on to and use against you. Aim for something that is relatively flat to your head and not easily grabbed.
- Get a panic/alaert personal alarm – there are a slew of personal devices that can help attract unwanted attention to your situation (unwanted by the perpetrator). These things are loud, annoying, and double as a flashlight and keychain in many cases. A list of devices on Amazon that will serve this purpose can be found at this link: Personal Alarms for Runners
- When all else fails, hit the dread-mill – Yeah, it’s not our favorite option. But, we just gave you a lot to think about. If you find yourself worried and needing to plan some, hit the ‘mill and get your workout in.
Stay safe out there! If you have any other tips we should have on this list, send us your feedback at email@example.com
Dan Cuson, Level 1 USAT coach