Marathon training means many hours on the run at all hours of the day and night. Those 15-20 mile training runs have to be put in no matter what the time or weather is like. As winter approaches, the days are getting shorter and running in the dark in the early evenings and mornings is becoming more common. It’s more important than ever to focus on staying safe on the run, both in the daylight hours and at night.
There are a host of things to prepare for to help keep you safe and feeling confident on every run. You can’t always be prepared for everything, but having a few basics can keep you running safely and confidently every day.
My Top 5 Running Safety Tips
Be Seen. Early morning and late night runs are often in the dark. Wear reflective shoes, jackets and tights. Add a lighted, reflective vest for added security on the road. You want drivers to see you in advance so they can avoid any accidents that may happen. You may also want to wear a headlamp to light your path and help you see farther ahead.
Stay Aware. Try not to run with headphones when running in areas where there is traffic or you are by yourself. You want to know what it going on around you and hear cars or people coming your way. If you can hear and see the cars or people around you, you may be able to avoid more dangerous situations before they occur.
If you absolutely must run with music try one of two things. Run with only one headphone in at a time and keep your other ear free to listen for outside noise and traffic. Or, purchase a pair of outer ear headphones. I have a pair from Aftershokz that sit on the outside of my ears so I can hear my music and outside noise. They are perfect for when I want to run and still be aware of my surroundings.
Exude Confidence. Run with your head held high. Look other runners, pedestrians or drivers in the eye. Don’t act like you may be uncomfortable or scared on the run. Be loud, say hello to those you pass by. Wave. One of my favorite professional trail runners, Sally McRae, talks about waving while holding a handheld can of pepper spray. Be friendly, but show whoever is coming towards you that you are confident, prepared and not someone to mess with.
Prepare yourself. Know the area where you will be running. Research the safety of the part of town you are in before you run. Try to choose safer areas to run and vary your routes. If you need to drive to a safer part of town, do it. Vary the times you run so you don’t become too predictable and an easy target for someone who may be watching your routine.
Sign up for a basic self-defense course. While you are hopefully never faced with an attacker, knowing a few basic self-defense moves can help you be prepared if you get in an unfriendly situation. Sign up for a weekend class or two to learn how to defend yourself if you ever face this situation. Often these are offered for free at running stores or your local martial arts studio.
Overall, running is a fairly safe sport. But as runners we are often running 100’s of training miles alone. Prepare yourself in advance to be as safe as possible so you can continue running confidently for years to come.