Safety While Running Alone
I’ve been running for 15 years now and those miles have been all over the world. From road to trail, and from my neighborhood loop to China, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and all over Europe. One of the questions I get most often from people, specifically females, is how I feel safe running alone in so many different places. I realize that not everyone feels safe, especially women, and it seems to prevent a lot of people from running.
“There are a few key things you can do to make most of your running safe and comfortable.“
There are a number of factors that contribute to safety while running. If you’re on the roads, it’s typically cars, other pedestrians and reflective gear, or lack thereof, that needs to be considered. If you’re on the trails, it’s mountain weather, terrain, carrying enough food and gear, wildlife and knowing where you’re going. This can all seem complicated and overwhelming but fortunately there are a few key things you can do to make most of your running safe and comfortable.
IF YOU RUN ON THE ROADS
- Open ear or no headphones. You always want to be able to hear your surroundings, so those noise-canceling beats aren’t recommended.
Run against traffic so you can see what is coming towards you. This is the opposite of cycling. You always want to see the cars instead of having them from behind.
Don’t space out. Be aware of people and things around you.
Wear reflective gear if it’s dark or low light, even if it seems like overkill.
Plan your route ahead of time so you stay in safe areas, preferably ones with paths, sidewalks, and large shoulders.
- Always carry water. Water is always essential in the mountains. A 5-mile run will likely take you a lot longer on trails than on your typical road route, so plan for more time and more water.
Have trail-specific shoes and a waterproof jacket, always. Mountain weather changes quickly and you don’t want to be stuck in an afternoon storm in a tank top and shorts. Trail-specific shoes have better traction and more aggressive lugs that handle trail and mountain terrain much better than road shoes.
Always tell someone where you’re going and/or run with a friend. There can be several off-shoot trails from the trail you decide to run. If you happen to take a wrong turn and get lost, it’s much safer if someone knows where you are or if a running buddy can help you navigate.
Work your way up to bigger mountains. If you’re new to trail running then I wouldn’t suggest running up a 14er on day 1. Treat it like a race where you work your way up to it so you know you can safely make it to the top and back.
Know the wildlife in the area you’re running. Most of the time you don’t need to worry about animals, but you’ll still want to be prepared just in case.
Hopefully, these tips will help you feel safe and comfortable wherever you’re running so you can get out and explore.