Essential Run Safety Tips & Tricks
16 October 2020
By – Whitney Dancaster – Newton Running Ambassador
As a seasoned distance runner and ultramarathoner, I tend to spend a few days a week running during the hottest portion of the day. A few years ago, I went for a mid-day run, put in my headphones - music full blast, and decided I was going to take the scenic route. I turned down a new side street, in an extremely nice community. As I was winding further and further back into the neighborhood, checking out the fancy houses, I came across a truck parked in the middle of the street that was blocking the road completely. I thought it was strange and kind of annoying (because I had to run around the car and into the grass) but I continued running and disregarded the situation entirely.
Throughout the course of my run I had crossed paths with a couple on their bikes (several times). As we passed each other one last time, the husband pulled me over to point a white truck with blacked out windows that had been following me for the past few miles. As I turned around, the same truck that was blocking the street earlier sped off past us. I’m very grateful for the guardians that were looking out for me that day. The harsh reality is that safety isn’t automatic just because you run in a safe neighborhood during the day.
There are simple precautions we can take as runners to enhance our personal security/safety and our general safety while enjoying the sport we love most. I have learned a lot over the years and I always feel that it’s better to be prepared for a situation that may or may not happen rather than find yourself in a situation unprepared and caught off-guard.
With that being said, let’s talk about a few things you can incorporate into your running routine to keep yourself safe and those around you safe.
- Always run against traffic and follow road rules - this gives you the ability to see what is coming towards you rather than being surprised from behind. Look over your shoulder before crossing the road and obey sidewalk signals.
- Plan your route - ensure others know where you are going, when you are leaving and when they should expect you back. It’s also import to change up your route or running time every so often (you do not want to create a routine). Don’t wander down dark paths and ensure your route is well lit.
- Carry a personal alarm or a phone – should you need it, this could save your life.
- Run with a friend or partner – there’s safety in numbers.
- No matter how confident you may feel, be aware of your surroundings – turn down the volume on your headphones or keep one ear bud out. Your ears may help you avoid dangers that your eyes cannot. Also, pay attention to the people around you and their mannerisms (always trust your instincts) and avoid crossing paths with people that you’re unsure of. The more aware you are, the less vulnerable you are. If you find that you get tunnel vision during a run, stick to a main road that is typically populated.
As a distance runner, long runs either start super early or lead into the dark hours of the night. Road running in South Florida can be dangerous (we have the world’s worst drivers) which makes it extremely important to ensure you can see your step and that you are visible to others.
- See and be seen - wear reflective gear or something with 360 degree visibility.
- Carry a light – whether it’s a head lamp or a hand-held, this can help keep you on your feet and aware of any ground/wildlife hazards.
- Carry a device with cellular capabilities - If you do find yourself injured or in need of emergency services, this is a quick way to call for help without relying on others. If you have a smart watch, set up alerts and emergency texts in case of an emergency.
Here are a few items I personally love and recommend for those dark morning / late night runs:
- $44.50 Blinking Safety Vest Amphipod
- $12.49 Night Ize Slap Wrap
- $19.99 Personal Alarm Safe Run Rip Cord Siren
- $175 Newton All Weather Gravity
- $40 - $60 Knuckle Lights
Most importantly, remember that every run is a gift. Stay safe and happy running!