Read These 16 Potentially Life-Saving Tips Before Your Next Run!

A pair of runners

As winter approaches, shaving precious minutes of sunlight off the beginning and end of your day, it’s worthwhile to revisit your outdoor running routine and update your safety practices. If you typically run before or after work, you might soon find yourself logging your miles in the dark.

Not only does the darkness impede visibility and increase your chances of injury, it also affords would-be attackers more opportunity to target you. Follow these safe running tips for beginners or experienced runners before hitting the road or trail.

Top 16 Running Safety Tips

Woman in bright pink running gear looking at phone

1. See and Be Seen

If you can’t run during daylight hours, make sure you can be seen in the dark. Wear bright, reflective clothing when running at night or in the early morning. Orange, yellow, and neon-green colors signal drivers to use caution. Pick up an LED headlamp to help you see the road in front of you.

2. Stay Alert and Pay Attention to your surroundings

This is a big one: the best way to avoid injury or falling victim to a crime is to pay attention to where you are, who is around you, and what is nearby and in your path.

3. Tune in to the Present

These days, runners of all ages wear headphones to tune out while walking or running, but jamming to your workout mix is not without risk. In order to be fully alert, you should wear only one earbud, turn the volume way down, or skip the headphones altogether. With your ears unplugged, you’ll be able to hear traffic, footsteps, and other potential dangers.

4. Take care on hills!

Hills and winding roads can impede drivers’ visibility. Take extra caution if you’re running outdoors on twisty, hilly roads.

5. Practice traffic etiquette

Runners should always run against the flow of traffic, so you can easily see and react to oncoming traffic.

Look both ways before crossing the street, obey traffic signals, and make eye contact with drivers at intersections to be sure they’ve yielded the right of way to you. Drivers, especially in the early morning and late-night, can go on autopilot: don’t assume that any driver has seen you.

And don’t forget to watch out for cyclists on the road!

6. Give someone a heads up

Let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Call a friend or leave a note with a family member including your running route.

There are also safety apps you can download that include GPS tracking to let friends or family know where you are in case of emergency.

7. Know your neighborhood

Only run in familiar areas, and only on well-populated roads. Avoid any overgrown trails and unlit streets.

If you’re new to an area, get in touch with a local running club or Road Runners Club of America chapter to learn the safe running routes in the area.

Couple running with a dog

8. Use the buddy system

Speaking of running clubs: running with a partner is fun! And, as they say, there’s safety in numbers. You’ve got someone with you in case you get injured, and potential attackers are less likely to target a pair of runners.

If your friends aren’t into running, join a local running group! You could even run with your pet dog or borrow a friend’s.

9. Carry ID

You should always carry some sort of identification with you, including an emergency contact number and any medical information that might be relevant in case of an emergency. If you don’t have much pocket room, consider a Road ID you can wear around your wrist or ankle.

10. Bring your phone

While you shouldn’t be watching your phone instead of the road, your cell phone is your best safety tool; if something happens, you’ll want to be able to call someone. On the other hand, if a mugger wants your phone, give it to them. No really, just hand it over.

If you don’t have a friend or family member’s phone number memorized (who does these days?), keep it written down somewhere so you can call them from a local shop or cafe if necessary.

11. If there’s an emergency, call 911 ASAP

If you are attacked or mugged, do not wait until you are home. Do not call anyone else first. The sooner you call the police, the more likely they’ll be able to locate your attacker. Try to remember as much detail as possible about the person who attacked you.

If you see anyone else hurt or in danger, call help. Take care of each other out there.

12. Ignore catcallers

While verbal harassment can happen to anyone, it’s a particular problem for female runners and pedestrians. If anyone says anything unseemly to you, ignore them and keep a safe distance between you.

If you feel unsafe, move to more populated, well-lit areas.

13. Be self-aware

Many men do not consider the effect their physical presence can have on the women around them.

First and foremost, avoid startling others and consider crossing to the other side of the road to give someone their personal space. Avoid following, or even giving the appearance of following, a fellow walker or runner on the road. Keep your distance and announce your intentions to pass with a simple “on your left.”

If another runner or walker looks nervous or crosses the street to get out of your path, don’t take it personally. And if you see someone being harassed or followed, help. Even simple bystander responses can diffuse a situation and keep a fellow runner safe.

14. Only carry a self-defense tool if you’re trained to use it

Keeping a weapon or pepper spray with you while you run may make you feel safer, but if you don’t know how to use it, it may be used against you.

A whistle or key chain alarm can be useful in deterring assailants and attracting help in case of emergency.

15. Trust your gut

If you’re getting a bad vibe from an area or person, get out of there.

16. Avoid injury

Running is great exercise, but not if you sprain your ankle and get stuck at home. Always warm up before running to get your muscles and tendons ready to go. Make sure your running shoes fit properly and provide adequate support.

Why choose University Foot and Ankle Institute for your foot and ankle care?

Whether you need to find proper footwear, treat an injury, or get advice on proper foot care, we’re here to help. Our podiatrists offer the most advanced podiatry care and the highest success rates in the nation. We are nationally recognized foot and ankle specialists and leaders in researching, diagnosing, and treating all foot and ankle conditions and common injuries.

For a free consultation please call (877) 736-6001 or make an appointment online now.

Our podiatrists take patients’ safety seriously. Our podiatry facility’s Covid-19 patient safety procedures exceed all the CDC’s coronavirus pandemic recommendations. Masks are always required in our institutes.

University Foot and Ankle Institute is conveniently located throughout Southern California and the Los Angeles area. Our foot doctors are available at locations in or near Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach, Northridge, Downtown Los Angeles, Westlake Village, Granada Hills, and Valencia.

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