Running safety is a topic that I wish I didn’t have to write about. But, this is the world we live in, and I would rather be realistic and help other women learn to run safely. As a woman who runs, I think about safety every time I lace up my shoes and prepare for a run.
Keep reading to learn some valuable running safety tips for women. Honestly, men could probably learn a few tips on runner safety from this article! Women aren’t the only ones who should run safely!
*The following tips do not guarantee safety when running. It is meant to be helpful advice. This blog is about risk aversion, not risk elimination (which is virtually impossible). I am also not saying that anyone who has been hurt or worse while running could have been spared if they had done something differently! There will be ZERO victim-blaming here!
**Disclaimer-This post contains affiliate links that we may profit from but in no way shapes our opinion of the products.
Running Safety Tips for Women and Men
Unless you want to run on a treadmill indoors for every run, you are likely going to run outside at some point in your training. Below you will find 19 tips for running safety. They are in no specific order.
- Always tell someone where you will run and how long you plan to be running.
- This way, if you don’t show up when you are expected, it will set off alarm bells. How is anyone supposed to find you if they don’t know where you are and when you plan to be there? Remember the guy from 127 hours? You don’t want to be stuck without help for an extended period. Not all running injuries/accidents are caused by other people doing harm. This tip could literally save your life!
- Stay on well-traveled and well-lit roads.
- The busier the area, the less likely someone is to try something. Don’t take shortcuts through woods or poorly lit areas.
- If possible, run with a dog, a group, or at least one other person.
- There is safety in numbers, and often with a furry friend. If there isn’t a running club or group in your area, you could even consider starting one. I know that running with a group is not for everyone, but it definitely increases the safety of your run. If you are with a larger group, you don’t necessarily have to run at the same pace. It is more about having a more significant number of people nearby.
- Ditch the headphones.
- Obviously, wearing headphones is a pretty big distraction. They make it harder to be aware of your surroundings. If you simply CAN’T run without headphones, at least turn the volume down low enough you can hear what’s going on around you. Try using just one headphone. Bone conduction headphones or audio sunglasses are a less distracting option.
- Bring your phone with you on your run.
- I know, carrying your phone isn’t fun. But, it is actually a good idea. Some apps can track you while you run. Certain watches will also tell your emergency contacts where you are, and if they detect a fall, or something happening to you, they can even alert your emergency contact. The caveat to this is that you have to have your cell phone within range of your watch.
- If someone looks shady to you, cross the street or go the other way.
- Why take the chance? If you think someone looks sketchy, avoid them. You don’t even have to tell them you are judging them!
- Vary your routes and running times.
- Don’t be predictable. If you run the same route at the same time every time you run, that makes you a pretty easy target.
- Know where you’re going.
- Looking confused and lost can make you a target. Even if you don’t know where you are, fake it until you make it.
- Plan your running route with safety in mind.
- This kind of goes back to running in well-maintained and well-lit areas. But, it also means to be familiar with the area you are running in.
- Be careful about sharing your running routes online.
- If you don’t post about it, did it really happen? Just kidding. We all love to share our runs with the interweb, but be mindful of who all can see your runs and routes. Not everyone has the best intentions.
- Don’t be distracted.
- This tip goes back to the headphones. A distracted person is a much easier target. Perpetrators often look for people who aren’t fully aware of their surroundings.
- Trust your gut/intuition.
- If something or someone doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. There have been multiple times on my runs where I didn’t get a good feeling about somebody. I wasn’t too macho to leave the situation. There have been many times in my life where my intuition has served me well.
- Ignore “cat-callers.”
- I hate people who honk, whistle, yell, etc. I am not sure what they are thinking…like, do they really think you like it? Usually, if you ignore them, they will go away. If they don’t stop, take out your phone and record them if you are carrying your phone. No one likes to look like a jerk on social media!
- If possible, take a self-defense class.
- Check with your local fitness centers, colleges, schools, and law enforcement. You would be surprised who hosts self-defense classes. One is likely available to you, you just might have to put in some effort to find it.
- Wear reflective clothing or a lighted vest when running in the dark.
- This one is pretty self-explanatory. No one can see you unless you are lit up.
- Don’t run on the roads at night.
- Also self-explanatory. Everything is much harder to see at night. If you must run on the roads in the dark, make sure you wear a light of some kind to make yourself easier to see.
- If you are running in the road, run against traffic.
- If you run against traffic, you can at least see the vehicle coming. Whether they see you or not is still up in the air. When running on dirt roads, make sure you are doubly aware of your surroundings. Rolling hills and lack of foot traffic can lead to many drivers not paying as much attention and looking out for runners.
- If you have medical needs, carry something like a Road ID with pertinent information.
- If something does happen to you, this will help first responders with your emergency care.
- If you ever feel you are in an unsafe situation, call the police.
- I was a dispatcher for law enforcement for two years. Trust me. I would much rather send an office to check things out, and nothing happen to you than the alternative. Officers would rather you call and be safe than not call and something happen to you.
Running Safety Devices
Along with following the tips from above, you can also invest in some helpful running safety devices. Many of these are inexpensive and inobtrusive (they won’t get in the way). In my opinion, it is best to try out a few different kinds, pick what you like the best, and stick with that. I don’t recommend carrying one of each for many reasons!
There are a variety of wearable personal safety alarms available for purchase. These little guys pack a really loud punch when activated. It is all about what works for you when it comes to these. Here are some that I am aware of:
Pepper spray is a great way to defend yourself from people and wildlife. Personally, I don’t love carrying pepper spray due to its weight. Also, I am a little worried that I am more likely to spray myself than an attacker, as I have never used it before.
It is best to test your pepper spray before running with it, so you can gauge how it works and use it quickly. I do know that you should NOT spray it into the wind. You will have regrets if you do!
Also, these do expire after a certain period of time, so make sure you check the expiration date before heading out on your run. Here are a few popular brands of pepper spray:
Wearable Self-Defense Items
I was honestly a little surprised that these even exist, but here they are. I think these devices are pretty self-explanatory. However, if you plan to use these, please do so with appropriate training. You don’t want to harm yourself on your run!
Running Safety Summarized
Hopefully, you find these tips on running safety helpful. This article is not meant to scare you off running outside. I do it for almost all my runs, as long as the weather isn’t too terrible.
Many of these tips are easily incorporated into your everyday life. If you have any other unique tips, techniques, or safety devices not mentioned, feel free to share them in the comments!