fitness running

Safety tips for running alone

Hello and happy spring! I’m excited for longer days and longer runs without five layers, three pairs of gloves, and a scarf wrapped around my head like I’m a mummy.

Warmer weather means more outdoors runs. And for me, that also means more solo runs.

Do you ever run alone? If so, do you always feel safe when you do?

According to a 2017 Runner’s World survey of over 2,500 women, nearly one in three say they’ve been followed by someone—whether on foot or in a car—while they were running. The results also showed that 43 percent of women say they’ve sometimes, often, or always have been honked at, catcalled, or received unsolicited sexual attention on their runs. Read the full article: Running While Female.

Unfortunately, these stats are not surprising.

My female friends and I have experienced the above on multiple occasions during runs. Luckily, the situations have never been scary — just annoying.

I think it’s important to always be cautious and practice safety when you’re out running.

Here are some safety tips I follow:

1. Run with a buddy — Ok, I know the focus here is on solo running, but honestly, running with another person is one of the top safety tips when running outside. If something goes wrong, you have a person to back you up. Also, it’s harder to attack two people. Another benefit? You can pace each other!

2. Don’t wear headphones — If you’re running alone, you need to be aware of your surroundings. When both ears are plugged, you won’t hear cars passing by or people sneaking up behind you. If you absolutely cannot run without music or your favorite podcast, I would recommend having just one earbud in and keeping the volume low. There are also headphones out there that don’t cover your ears, like these bluetooth-enabled ones by Aftershokz.

3. Be seen and see well — It’s important that cars and people can see you, especially when it’s dark out. In the early morning or late night hours, drivers may be drowsy, and being invisible is just not safe. It’s also important that YOU can see, too — uneven pavement (you don’t want to trip!), icy sidewalks, or a person hovering near a poorly lit bus stop — you want to make sure your path is visible. If you don’t like using headlamps, these knuckle lights are a good option. I’ve also heard good things about Flipbelt’s Million Mile light. And these reflective strips are cool because you can stick them on any of your running gear.

4. Be heard — If something does go wrong, you want to make sure you can draw attention to yourself to get help — it could be a bad fall or an attacker. I recently bought a small alarm for my keychain and to take on runs with me. When activated, it sets off a loud 130dB siren. Also, it’s cute. Lol. After I got it, I ended up buying a few more to give as gifts.

5. Carry pepper spray — I’ll be honest, I don’t always want to carry pepper spray while I’m running. I’m already carrying my phone, keys and alarm (see #4). But I know it could be valuable in emergency situations. They make small ones that you can attach to your keychain or wear around your neck during runs. I have this version in hot pink. Recently though, I saw this version with an adjustable hand strap, which would be handy during runs.

6. Bring your phone — I used to hate running with my phone. It’s heavy, and I liked the idea of being free from text messages and calls during runs. But then my sister found out I was running without my phone and got upset with me. She said it wasn’t safe — she’s right, it’s not. In an emergency situation, it’s good to have, so you can contact family members, friends or the police quickly.

7. Change up your route, and if possible, run in populated areas — It’s a good idea to change up your route regularly, so you’re not an easy target for stalkers. You don’t want to be predictable. It’s also a good idea to run in populated areas when possible.

8. Run against traffic — It’s safer to run against traffic so cars can see you.

9. Obey traffic signals and look both ways before crossing — This is something we learn at a young age, right? It still applies as an adult, and while running. Even if you have the right of way as a pedestrian, it’s very important to check the other way, because drivers can be jerks about letting pedestrians and runners pass when they have the right of way. I almost got ran over once because a car didn’t let me pass — he made a right turn and didn’t see me. Luckily I saw him just in time and stopped.

10. Carry identification — In case something happens, it’s good to have identification on you. You can carry ID in your shoe or around your neck. I have a clear phone case, and inside the back of the case, I have a post-it note containing my info. If you want something a little fancier, take a look at Road ID.

11. Let family members and friends know when you’re going on runs — Let them know by leaving a note on the counter or fridge or sending a quick text. You can also use an app that will allow you to send your location to family and friends. This post has info on some.

12. Learn a little self-defense — Knowing just a few moves could be beneficial and help you get out of a bad situation. Taking a self-defense class is on my list of things to do this year. In the meantime, here are a few moves.

Do you have any additional tips to add? If so, please share!

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