Running is a sport that you can do wherever you are, with minimal equipment, so when it comes to convenience, it can’t be beat. But just because you can run anywhere and anytime, doesn’t mean you should. When considering safety, runners need to take some extra precautions. Study our safety tips and then enjoy your run without worry.
1. Run against traffic. If you have the option of running on sidewalks, that’s always the best bet, but if you have to run on the road, make sure you’re facing oncoming traffic. This allows motorists to see you and vice versa, giving you both enough reaction time. The only time you should run with traffic is if you’re heading into a blind curve. In that situation, briefly run with traffic until the road straightens out.
2. Wear reflective clothing. There are tons of options these days from light-up vests to glow-in-the-dark jog bras to headlamps. Choose a few bright items and wear them during all of your nighttime, dawn, and dusk miles. A seen runner is a safe runner!
3. Choose well-lit routes and smooth surfaces. If you’re headed out in the early morning or evening, plan your route around areas with good lighting. And avoid any streets or sidewalks with potholes or uneven footing. If none of your usual routes fit the bill, it may be time to get creative. Have you considered running in a well-lit (and low-traffic) parking lot? Or getting a day pass to a gym or college with an indoor track?
4. Run with a friend or your dog. There is safety in numbers! In addition to making the miles pass by more quickly, a run with pal (two-legged or four-legged) is a good way to make your miles a bit safer.
5. Tell someone where you'll be and how long you'll be gone. Alerting a friend or family member to your running plans is one of the golden rules for staying safe. Ask them to check in with you at a predetermined time -- if you don’t respond, they’ll know to come look for you.
6. Take along your phone. Having your cell phone is indispensable in case of an emergency -- whether it’s a sprained ankle or a wrong turn. Before you head out for a run, make sure your battery is fully charged and you’ve got a comfortable way of carrying your phone. There are plenty of arm sleeves and waist belts to make bringing a phone along easy.
7. Minimize distractions. While having a phone on your person is a good strategy (see above!), don’t let it become too much of a distraction. Avoid the temptation to check your email or Instagram on the run -- focusing on the miles at hand is the best way to avoid unnecessary falls or precarious situations.
8. Opt for the treadmill if conditions are hazardous. If the weather is very bad or you don’t feel safe running a certain route, there’s no shame in the treadmill game. Running inside doesn’t have to be a snooze-fest (check out these boredom-busting treadmill workouts for inspiration). And if you’re inside, you’ll have easy access to your favorite music, water, and fuel.
9. Consider packing pepper spray. If you’re comfortable using it, you might want to carry a small container of pepper spray or a whistle. If the event of an attack, you’ll have some way of fighting back.
With a little advance planning and some common sense, you can ensure that your runs stay safe and uneventful!
Megan is a writer, RRCA certified running coach, and new mom living and training in rural upstate New York. She competed in DIII track and cross-country at Wesleyan University and now focuses on the half-marathon and marathon distance.
Main Photo Credit: lzf/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: Undrey/shutterstock.com; Third Photo Credit: Martin Novak/shutterstock.com; Fourth Photo Credit: sawaddeebenz/shutterstock.com