Safety tips for runners

You Signed Up For What posted about an incident that happened to her over the weekend, as well as her reactions to it, that caused her to be more concerned about safety. She was grabbed while out running with her son in a baby jogger (who grabs a lady pushing a baby stroller, anyway?).

Here is a quick overview of the tips she recommended:

1) Carry your cell phone
2) Carry pepper spray
3) Stick to well-lit, high traffic routes
4) Wear identification
5) Run without headphones
6) Report an incident or uncomfortable situation right away
7) Spread the word

I thought these tips were really good (go read them!) and thought I’d add a few of my own.

Run with a buddy – whenever possible, it’s best to run with a buddy. Even if you’re not accosted by a sketchy person, there are all kinds of things in addition to assault or harassment that can go wrong on your run – injuries, car altercations, animal attacks – and if you are alone, there will be no one able to help you if something goes wrong.

Of course, most of us break this rule all the time because finding a running partner can be hard, and also for the introverts among us, the alone time is part of the appeal of running.

This is a real safety issue though, and not just because of the possibility of assault. Animal attacks are my own personal nightmare. The most scared I have ever been when running alone was a time when I ran past a field where a woman was exercising her dogs. They tore across the field toward me and didn’t stop until they were about 3 feet away. I felt very fortunate that she was able to call them off. I am not normally afraid of dogs, but that was scary!

And then there is this sort of thing.

Carry adequate hydration and know the water stops on your route – this is especially important as the summer approaches. Most of the time we run on routes we know well, but sometimes we decide to try a new one, and if we get lost, we can go through our water quickly on a hot day. This is especially the case if you live in a suburb where there are not a lot of through roads, or terrain that can make going difficult.

Don’t run alone at night – when I was in grad school and living in downtown Seattle, I used to break this rule all the time. Oddly, I never really felt threatened. I mainly kept to well lit, busy areas, but still, in retrospect this was also probably not the safest way to get my run in. The problem was it was the only time I could do it. I am probably lucky never to have been hit by a car, accosted by weirdos, or worse. This is especially important if you are a creature of habit who runs on a predictable schedule.

Practice situational awareness – pay attention to what is going on around you and be aware of anything unusual or potentially dangerous. This is part of why wearing headphones on your run is a bad idea. You need to see and hear what is going on so that you can judge your own safety, and decide how to stay safe.

What do you do to stay safe on your runs?