Runner safety is again at the forefront of my every thought. In the last two weeks there have been two attacks locally and a third attack in another state. Staying safe on the run should be every runner’s priority.
It seems like I post the same post every year or so. The subject matter? Runner safety.
In the last couple weeks there have been not one but two reports of women attacked in local parks. The first one was a runner who escaped her attacker by biting on his hand when he covered her mouth. The second was a cyclist attacked on bike. Neither suspect has been apprehended.
Frankly, attacks like these aren’t only scary, they’re frustrating, annoying, and infuriating. What gives someone the right to touch another person? It boggles the mind. It’s so ridiculous that people who want to exercise, live a better life, and feel good have to think about something as awful as being attacked while doing so. But such is the world we live in. And because of that, we need to be diligent when it comes to our own safety so we can continue doing the activities we so love.
Stay alert, aware, and ready while you’re running or exercising outdoors. Don’t let yourself become a victim. Check out these 10 runner safety tips to practice when exercising outside.
10 Runner Safety Tips for Outdoor Workouts
1. Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
This one’s a no-brainer. Even when my husband isn’t home with me before I go for a run, I send him a text of where I’m going and approximately how long it should take me. If something should happen to me I want him to know where I’ve been.
2. Use a tracking app or device like Garmin LiveTrack, Road ID, or Wearsafe.
By using a tracking app or device, your friends and family can see where you are in your route and/or be alerted if something’s up. The Road ID app is pretty cool — it lets people you invite to track you see where you are in your run. It also sends an alert if you stop moving for five minutes.
I own the Wearsafe pod but I haven’t used it much. Now that I’ve been running consistently outdoors, I plan on subscribing to the service and wearing it.
3. Run with your phone.
It’s mind blowing to me that people still run without a phone. There are so many things that could go wrong on a run that I wouldn’t be comfortable without it. The only time I’ll run without a phone is if I’m with a friend (in the daylight) or a group of people. If I’m with only one friend and it’s dark, I still bring my phone. Here’s why.
4. Carry pepper spray or MACE.
Pepper spray and/or MACE not only can be used during human attacks but also animal encounters as well. If you live in a heavily dog-populated area or near a lot of wildlife, you should probably run with some sort of spray just in case.
5. Take a self defense class.
Some argue that running with a weapon (like pepper spray) is a poor choice because it can be used against you. In this case, arm yourself with self defense knowledge. Don’t leave your fate up to a physical tool. Instead, learn how to use your body as a tool against an attack.
6. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times.
If you run with music, consider ditching it when running solo. If you can’t run without music, consider AfterShokz bone conduction headphones or Jaybird RUN Wireless headphones so you can keep your ears free to hear your surroundings.
7. Run with a dog.
There’s truly nothing more fun than running with a canine companion. In fact, I wrote a post about it not too long ago. Running with a dog is a lot of fun but dogs are also a great deterrent to a potential attacker. Not many people would consider messing with a dog.
8. Continuously scan for escape routes.
Keep your eyes peeled and your senses heightened on your runs. Scan for escape routes or nearby neighbors should you need to get out of a compromising situation.
9. Run with a friend or in a group.
Ideally, you should run with a friend or in a group. There’s safety in numbers. But I get it — sometimes you just want to run solo. Some of my best runs are when I’m by myself. But they’re also some of the worst because it’s easy to let the paranoia of an attack get in my head and essentially ruin my run. Running with a friend or in a group is a great way to stay sane, stay safe, and be social. It’s a win on so many levels!
10. Run when there’s some activity nearby when an attack is less likely to happen.
I used to love running at sunrise. And I still do. But I feel safer when I run when more people are out and about. Witnesses, if you will. I imagine if something were to happen in broad daylight, I’d have more of a fighting chance of someone seeing or hearing me, or just plain old getting away.
I admit, I haven’t wanted to run alone for the last couple weeks. It’s made training a little more challenging because I haven’t gotten all my workouts in as planned. But I’d rather stay safe and enjoy my runs than hit all my workouts. I’m sure my coach understands.
The takeaways from this post: be aware, keep your senses heightened, and use common sense on the run. If you need to add some tools to your safety arsenal, consider pepper spray, a dog, or self defense classes.
And if you need more tips for runner safety, check out these posts:
What do you do to stay safe on the run?
Do you run with pepper spray? Take self defense classes?
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