Safety Tips for Runners

Running safety demonstration classes pop up occasionally at running stores and in gyms; usually with very good attendance, and for good reason. Whether running solo or in a group, in the city or the country, during daylight or dark, runners should always be aware that something could go wrong putting their safety at risk. Knowing what to do can be the difference between surviving an attack and not surviving. With a need for frequent reminders, I’ve pulled together six running safety tips that could save your life, and put them on an easy to pin poster for future reference.

I reached out to my running buddy, Katie, who also happens to be a cop, for assistance in identifying the most important habits runners should practice when heading out for a run. Having been in the position of nearly being attacked by a man wearing a ski mask and wielding a knife on the running trail just two summers ago, Katie is very passionate about the subject and provided me with a wealth of information.

Using her experience as a law enforcement officer, an avid long distance runner, and the victim of that near attack, Katie helped me compile these six running safety tips that could save your life.


Six Running Safety Tips That Could Save Your Life:

1.  Let someone know how long you will be gone and where you are headed.

  • Mix up your routes and the time of your run so your routine can’t be predicted.
  • Use one of the apps that allow you to share your location with a friend or a family member.


2.  Carry your phone whenever you run, even if it seems inconvenient.

  • Having a phone available for making emergency calls or for tracking your whereabouts is a must. If something does happen to you, you can immediately make a call to 911, getting needed emergency help more quickly.


3.  If you choose to carry a weapon, please practice and be proficient with how to use it.

  • Not knowing how to use the weapon you carry actually put you at a higher risk than not having a weapon at all, and introduces a weapon that can be used against you into a situation that wouldn’t have otherwise had one.
  • Pepper spray is a very popular weapon to carry, and if you carry it, be careful how it is deployed. If you are in a close combat situation be prepared to be affected by the spray as well, even if you are spraying away from your face. Also, practice how to draw the canister out of your pocket and make sure the nozzle is pointed toward the bad guy, not yourself.
  • Other weapons that can be carried include guns, knives, and tasers. These are even more dangerous weapons if used against you, so you must be proficient at using them. A gun or a knife is not going to save you if don’t know how to use it. Also, make sure the tool is accessible and within easy reach.


4.  Always be aware of your surroundings.

  • If you must listen to music or podcasts, keep the volume low so you can hear sounds emanating from your environment. Choose earbuds that do not block outside noise, or wear only one of the two ear pieces.
  • Avoid running alone on secluded trails.
  • Watch and analyze everyone who comes across your running path and have a plan to exit the trail if necessary. Even if you see an older gentleman who looks like he could be your grandfather, have a secret plan in your head to fight him off if the situation arises. Analyze him to see if he has any pockets where he could have weapons hidden, watch his hand movements, his facial expression, how he is dressed (a heavy coat when it is 70° outside should raise a flag). Say hello, wave, or nod to make sure he knows that you saw his face. Remember his features.
  • Watch for houses, busy roads, and other places you could run toward should something happen to you.
  • Scan bushes and heavy tree lines before you actually pass them. Look below the bushes and trees for feet.
  • Always know where you are on the trail. What was the last mile marker you passed? What was the name of the last street you crossed? Are you heading east or west? What town are you near? What landmarks are nearby?


5.  Go with your gut instinct.

  • If your instinct tells you that a person ahead of you looks like he is up to no good, turn around and go the other way.
  • Call law enforcement officials if someone looks out of place – for example, a person wearing dark clothing, standing by the tree line, in a remote part of the bike trail trying to blend in with the scenery.


6.  If all of the precautions above have not worked, fight for your life!

  • Fight dirty! The other person is trying to harm you so fight back! There are no rules – kick your perpetrator in the genitalia, bite, and try to jam your fingers into soft tissue such as the eyes.
  • Try to remember as many details about the person as possible.
  • As soon as you find an opportunity to get away, run and call 911.
  • When you are on the phone with 911, be specific about exactly where you are.


Consider Taking a Self Defense Course

Most of these safety tips are common sense, but are often overlooked or ignored. For more specific information on self defense, consider taking a course at a local gym or martial arts studio. The life you learn to save, could be your own.


  • • Have you attended a running safety demonstration?
  • • Do you run alone?
  • • Have you ever felt threatened by someone or something while on a run?