I typically run alone. I love running alone! It’s one of the big reasons I love running so much – I get to spend a little one-on-one time with myself. However, running solo has proved to be a little nerve-wracking at times, especially having moved to a city. (And a pretty crime-ridden one, at that.) That said, I am never going to stop running by myself in the city. Ever. I love it too much!
So, what do you do when you’re a young female scurrying around the city on foot all by yourself? You learn what it means to truly be safe, and you take precautions. Follow along for a few important things to consider.
Suggestions for Running Safety in the City
- MY NUMBER 1 TIP EVER FOR RUNNING! Do NOT wear headphones! Don’t argue with me here. Just get over it and ditch them. Not only will it make you a better runner, but you will be much less vulnerable and more vigilant. I’ve heard of many runners being targeted by teens wanting to steal their iPod. Is that really worth it?? Headphones in, you’re a target. No headphones, you’re aware. Not to mention, if you ever want to win anything in a sanctioned race, you can’t run with headphones anyway. May as well start training without them. I haven’t missed them one bit in almost five years.
- Always wear a RoadID. I cannot stress the importance of this fantastic little bracelet. Yes, they cost money. But is your life not worth the small investment? Get one of these guys and never forget to wear it on the run. Keep your online profile updated. And if something horrible happens, take solace in the fact that the first responders will know all your vitals. It could save your life!
- Always tell someone when you are leaving and when you return. Let’s be honest, we’re all texting or emailing or whatever with our spouses or loved ones all day. It just takes a second to let them know that you’re headed out for a run. Let them know all the details, like how far you are running and what route you are going to take, then stick to the plan. And don’t forget to let them know when you get home safely. (I may have been known to forget this part sometimes. Sorry, husband!)
- Never run the same route every day. Especially if you run at the same time every day. Listen y’all, people are creeps. I like to think the best of everyone, but in this instance, I do not. I have heard too many stories of runners being attacked because someone noticed they were out running alone at the same time and same place every day. Not good. Be smart about this. It’s easy to find a few different routes of a few different distances and rotate through them. Plus, that keeps it interesting.
- Choose routes carefully. Know your neighborhoods and parks. Drive courses ahead of time to make sure you feel good about them. Don’t run through areas that are deserted, overgrown, or not well-lit.
- Take advantage of sidewalks and paths. If you must run on the road, always run against traffic. This is non-negotiable, just like the headphones. Stop at every crosswalk and alley. Don’t assume a driver has seen you! Runners get hit by cars every single day, assuming that they had the right of way. Maybe you do, but do you want to play that game? It won’t kill you to stop for a second to make sure it’s safe to cross a street. In the battle of car vs. runner, car always wins!
- Carry pepper spray. Yep, you read that right. They make a pepper spray with a convenient little Velcro hand holder and you don’t even have to think about it. (You can buy this at running specialty stores in your city, and yes, it is legal in all 50 states.) This is an effective deterrent, even if you never intent to use it. Not only is it good to have in case of emergency, it is also good to have in case of a dog attack. Dogs can be as scary to a runner as a person sometimes.
- Carry a cell phone, especially on longer runs. What happens if you trip and sprain your ankle? You’re going to hobble back home 10 miles? Might be nice to be able to call someone to come pick you up. That said, do not use your cell phone on the run. That immediately makes you distracted and unaware of your surroundings. Just bring it and keep it hidden so it doesn’t make you a target again.
- If you are able to run with a buddy, including Man’s Best Friend, do it. Safety in numbers.
- Just keep your eyes and ears open. By nature, running can allow you to check out a little bit, especially when you get into a good groove. But when you run in the city, you can’t check out. Watch for cars following closely or circling back multiple times. Listen for people coming up behind you. Make eye contact with everyone you meet.
Harsh reality? Maybe so, but it’s the world we live in. Stay safe out there on the run.
Do you run in a city? What safety precautions do you take while running?