Safety Tips for Running Alone

Running first thing in the morning was my jam until I started working a 9-5 and was forced to run at 4 or 5 am rather than 9 am (oh the server life of late nights and sleeping in!). However, it's sometimes necessary for me to get in a run before the sun comes up. I've gotten quite accustomed to this lonely, eerie time by myself and actually look forward to it! 

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If you don't have a running buddy (and even if you do), you need to be safe about running in the early morning. This is also true for the winter if you do your runs at night when the sun starts setting much earlier. Here's a few helpful tips that have helped me feel comfortable and kept me safe while running on my own:

  1. NO music. In order to be aware of your surroundings, you need to remove distractions. No music means you can hear cars coming, or other people creeping around. I think this is the most difficult thing for runners to sacrifice - I remember when music was the only thing that got me through a run and motivated me to keep going. Beyond the safety factor though, no music makes you a better runner, allowing you to be more in tune with your breathing and body. Try it!!
  2. Carry pepper spray. I run with this in my hand with my finger on the trigger. This keeps me prepared to shoot it if someone jumps out at me, and it will give me enough time to run away or find help. I order a new one every 2 years or so and this is the kind I buy.
  3. Don't let your guard down when you finish your run. When you're within reach of your home, it's normal to feel safe, but it makes you an easy target. Stay aware until you're back inside your house or car and the door is locked behind you.
  4. Trust your instincts. I've been listening to The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker right now. This book was written 20 years ago and all of the information in it is still so valuable. One thing this book stresses over and over is that gut instinct will save your life. I can't even count the numb re of times I've gotten completely dressed for a run and walked outside only to walk back inside because something didn't feel right. Trust that feeling. Don't ever ignore it!
  5. Run in a well lit area. I am fortunate to run in a highly populated, well lit area. Regardless of this, you need to run where the light is most central. I run in the middle of the street where the streetlights hit the road. Running on the sidewalk sandwiches you between cars or trees, and homes, giving you less of a chance to see something well in advance and often time blocking your view. The goal is to have as much visual as possible in the radius surrounding you. This does require that you follow Tip #1 so you can hear cars coming. If you don't have a well lit area to run in, a headlamp is great.
  6. Keep someone in the loop. I lived alone for a long time, but I always let my mom know that I was running in the morning, and we would have a regular phone call each weekday around 7 am. She would know something was wrong if we didn't connect. Just let someone know where you're running and when, so they can make sure you get home safe.

It's always best to run in groups, but sometimes that's difficult with how busy we all are. Whether you are running on your own in the early morning already or really want to start doing it, these tips are crucial to your safety.

What are other ways you stay safe while running?

J