Recently, two runners were chased down along my favorite running route on Clearwater Beach. As odd a news story as this one may be, it can happen anywhere. But when you hear of something happening close to your home, in your neck of the woods, it is a real reminder to do your best to be safe. So, I decided now is a good time to share some important tips for runner safety.
1) Be aware of your surroundings. Know where you’re running and keep an eye out. Listen. Be aware. For me, this means not wearing headphones when running. I used to run with music and when a training plan took me out earlier than usual, I ditched the headphones because I knew I wouldn’t be able to hear what was going on around me.
2) If you have to run alone, tell someone where you are running. There are apps out there, including Garmin Connect that will allow you to share your route with someone. If I am running alone in the afternoon after work, even though it’s daylight, I will still let hubby know that I am heading out. He pretty much knows my route, but if I plan to run a different one, I let him know.
3) Don’t run alone. This contradicts what I just said, but this is my best piece of advice. There is strength in numbers. When I was marathon training, I had really early mornings, and hubby did not like me running alone. He would run with me so I wouldn’t be alone. I don’t like running alone anyway, but to have him with me in the dark was the best. Even on Sunday mornings, when my friend Corinna and I would run on the beach, he would either go with us, or meet us at certain points. You just never know what could happen. My friend Beth started a running group where she runs so she wouldn’t have to run alone. They may not all run together, but they let each other know when and where they’ll be. Again, safety in numbers.
4) Use lights when you run in the dark. There are plenty of options out there. From wrist lights, to knuckle lights, to head lamps… Pick what is most comfortable for you and use it. It’s not only to light your way but to let others know you are there. You can also buy reflective running gear. The more you can do to be noticed, the better.
5) Run a well-lit path. If I run in my neighborhood in the dark, I stick to the route I know has lighting along the way. When we run the causeway to Clearwater Beach, it is mostly lighted (hence using knuckle lights in the dark). One time when we ran it, there were several street lights out. Part of that run is VERY dark when the lights aren’t on at 5 in the morning and I actually called the city about it because it wasn’t safe at all. Even if you have lights like I mentioned above, you should still stick to a well-lit path.
6) Use common sense. Don’t run in places you shouldn’t. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t run there. Follow your instincts. It’s not worth your safety.
7) Wear a Road ID. One of the first things I did when I started running a lot was order a Road ID. It has your name, emergency contact info, medical info, and any other info you would like. You can wear them on your wrist or your ankle. If you get hurt while you are running, you want someone to be able to call your emergency contact. If you have certain medical conditions that a paramedic should know about for your care should something happen to you, then you should have that on there. They also have an app now where your location can be tracked.
8) Run towards traffic. Some may disagree on this one… In my neighborhood, most streets do not have sidewalks, so I am running on the street. I run against traffic because I want to see what is coming towards me. I want to have a chance to move out of the way if need be.
9) Run with a phone. I never run without my phone. Never ever. So many things can happen. I want the ability to be able to call hubby or my mom should something happen to me. I carry my phone out in the open, not in a case or band, because I want it seen that I have a phone. Hubby also feels better if he can get ahold of me while I’m running.
10) Watch for traffic. Don’t assume a car will see you. Yield to traffic, the extra seconds or minutes it will take could save your life. Be mindful of cars turning at an intersection. Wait for them to make eye contact with you and wave you on if that is their intention. Wait for the crosswalk signal to run across major intersections. You might see a vehicle, but they may not see you.
Whatever time of day you run, day or night, it’s best to follow these tips. You never know who you may run into, day or night. Being safe and being in the best possible position to protect yourself is very important.