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How To Stay Safe While Running – A Beginner’s Guide

Running is relaxing and some of us completely disconnect from our worries and problems during our run. This is of great help, especially in today’s society when we are always tensed, stressed, and on alert.

Even if disconnecting is great like with everything in life safety should be a priority, and in this article, we are going to discuss how to stay safe while on a run.

Before we look at ways to keep safe, you need to understand the danger that you can encounter.

Running Saftey

Most risks are directly related to the location in which you are going to run. Running on a treadmill or on a monitored athletics track is definitely less risky than running in the city. But the city is interesting, exciting and offers more possibilities.
So we are going to discuss the dangers that a city runner has to face and how to prevent them.

Traffic

Running on the street exposes you to the risk of being hit by a car, a motorcycle, or even a bike.

Of course, the best way to avoid having an accident with a vehicle would be to run on the sidewalk, in the park, or on the beach, but that isn’t always possible.

So, what can you do when you have to run on the street?

Be as visible as humanly possible

You can do this by using reflective clothes and accessories. Most running clothes have some reflective elements on them, but ideally, you should get a reflective vest like the one that construction workers have to wear while out on the street. It might not be pretty, but it could save your life.

Furthermore, there are many accessories that are designed to enhance visibility like reflective slap bands that glow and which you can apply on your wrists and ankles.

Run against traffic (most times)

Runners should run against traffic because two pairs of eyes are better than one. This way you get to see the cars and avoid them and the drivers get to see you but there is one exception to this rule.

Running with traffic also allows cars from behind you to possibly slow down and grab you off of the road (scary)! When you walk or run against traffic, it’s much more difficult for a car to slow down and stop coming at you, plus you get to visually see any cars approaching you.

When running uphill if the hill is steep, you should run with traffic because neither you nor the driver can see what is beyond the hilltop.

Survey 2021 -Run With Or Against Traffic

I surveyed 225 clients and readers – Most of them got the correct answer – Run Against Traffic (When Safety Is An Issue)

Make sure that you can hear your environment

One of the most common reasons for traffic accidents that involve runners is the fact that they run with their headphones on.

It’s Ok to listen to music while running, but make sure that you can also hear everything else, so turn the volume down or choose to run with just one headphone on.

People

Someone once said that the human is the most dangerous animal. That, someone, was probably right as joggers run a high risk of being mugged, harassed, raped or even killed.

Even Hollywood knows and if you pay attention to some movies or TV shows you will notice that a lot of runners either report a crime or are a victim of one. Sadly, some of those movies are based on true facts.

A survey conducted in 2017 showed that 43% of women runners are being harassed during their run in public places.

Here are a few ideas to stay safe and protect yourself from strangers who might have bad intentions.

Pepper spray

This is one simple method of blocking an attacker, but it is limited as to when we are running, we rarely can transport gear and it might not work on multiple attackers.

Carry a gun or a knife

Wearing a gun and using it are two different things, but if you are comfortable with carrying a gun you must make sure that you know how to use it, otherwise it might be a disadvantage.

The same is true for a knife. As a general rule, never wear a weapon that you are not experienced with, because an attacker could use it against you.

Run with a dog

Running with a dog is great for many reasons, one of them being the fact that your best friend would probably love the exercise.

In order for a dog to be efficient at protecting its owner, it should be trained to do so and it should also be able to do it. So, if you own a Chihuahua, you definitely can’t trust it to protect you, no matter how brave it is.

Attend self-defense classes

Knowing how to protect yourself in any circumstance is a great life skill no matter if you run or not.

If you do decide to enroll in such a class, make sure that you pay special attention to learning how to fall and to get up fast. Many attackers aren’t “professionals” so if you can take a punch and get up fast odds might turn in your favor.

Create your own running group

Running with a group or at least one friend gives you an advantage. In general, runners become victims when they are alone.

The fact that we need to recommend this is pretty sad, because running, walking, or simply being alone should not put anyone in a victim’s position. But the reality of our world is that it does.

If you do not have a friend who is willing to run (not many of us do), make sure to never run alone at night and stay away from secluded places. Safety is in numbers even if the others are strangers.

Always be aware of your surroundings

Make sure to watch out for any individuals following you on foot or in a car. Notice if they stare or lurk around. If so, move away and to more populated areas.

If your intuition tells you to avoid a person, cross the street if you must, but do it. We have innate self-preservation mechanisms that try to protect us, so we might as well listen to them.

Don’t be afraid to call the police

If you believe that someone is following you or that you are in danger, call the police no matter how uncomfortable you feel about it. Better safe than sorry.

Other random dangers

The city is a complicated space and if you look at it with the attention you will notice that there are a lot of things that can go wrong.

When walking with average speed, our eyes and our brain have time to process the information that they receive about the surroundings. But, when we run we might be too fast for our own good.

Pay attention to:

  • Gaps on the road;
  • Construction sites, because you can’t be sure that the workers will abide by the safety regulations;
  • Mud that could make you slip and fall;
  • Obstacles;
  • Stray dogs – the pepper spray will work on them too, but so would some dog treats;

After reading about all the dangers of running you might reconsider the activity altogether, but rest assured that running is mostly safe as long as you follow some simple principles.

Even with all these risks, runners still have a higher chance to live a long and healthy life than the general population who doesn’t run because cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity kills more people every year than accidents and crime.

Coach Scott is a published author, RRCA certified running coach (Level 2), and an NASM CPT (Certified Personal Trainer). He has published over 20 books including, Beginner's Guide to Half Marathons: A Simple Step-By-Step Solution to Get You to the Finish Line in 12 Weeks! (Beginner To Finisher Book 3), which has become an Amazon International #1 bestseller. Scott specializes in helping new runners become injury-free race finishers. He recently completed his 14th half marathon race. 

 To sign up for a FREE half marathon training schedule, log sheet, and pace predictor CLICK HERE.

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References

https://www.rrca.org/education/rrca-general-running-safety-tips

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45337810

How To Stay Safe While Running - A Beginner\'s Guide
Coach Scott
 

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