I may be an occasional runner, but I have been a runner long enough to have some useful tips to share on staying safe while running.
Here they are. (Scroll to the bottom for the 3-min video version.)
1. Keep your next run in mind
Just as the primary goal for a first date is to get to a second date (if you pre-filter well), the primary goal for any run should be to get you back on the road for the next run.
2. Keep loved ones informed
You might think that you like to lose yourself on a run. But, please, you could literally get lost and just make it harder for someone to find you. So, let a friend or family member know of your planned route before you set out and how long you’ll be gone. Leave them a note or, better still, a text message.
Get some practice using the safety app, so that you can instantly alert someone and call for help in the event of danger. Here’s a review of 15 suitable apps.
Make sure your phone is sufficiently charged before you set out, because a dead phone is merely deadweight.
4. Carry your ID and spare cash
Carry your ID and sufficient cash, for an unplanned but necessary meal/drink or a cab ride home.
If you don’t have a pocket in your running shorts or tights, you can get a phone+keys+cash pouch that either clips to your shorts or wraps around your arm.
5. Be aware of your surroundings
It can be hard to do that if you are plugged into music. So, do yourself a favor and ditch the earphones.
6. Wear bright, reflective clothing
This way, you can be spotted more easily by motorists. If you don’t have shoes or clothes that have reflective strips on them, you can get a breathable, reflective running vest and reflective ankle straps.
7. Run facing oncoming traffic
You will be able to see who is approaching you and will be in a better position to step out of harm’s way as necessary. (If you were running in the same direction as traffic, you’d have to look over your shoulder constantly.)
Remember that, on the road, you are a fast-moving pedestrian, not a jogger. Slow down at intersections and watch out for motorists who may not have noticed you.
If running with someone else, don’t run side-by-side and hog the road. Conversations can also distract you. Run in a single file and save conversations for later.
8. Pick undeserted, well-lit routes and vary them
Avoid deserted streets and lanes on your run. If you are not running in daylight, pick streets that are well lit.
Keep varying your route. Don’t pick the same predictable route every day. Don’t become predictable to a potential predator or even mischief-maker.
9. Plan on being able to jog back home
Plan each run wisely: Make sure that you’ll have enough gas left in the tank to jog back home.
If you plan to run 4 miles, for instance, head out 2 miles and save 2 miles for the jog back home. Don’t head out 4 miles and then realize that you have run out of energy.
10. Listen to your gut. Be bold. Stay safe.
If you sense danger, avoid it at all costs. Don’t be timid, don’t be afraid to throw your voice, and don’t be afraid to risk embarrassment, social disapproval, or even minor injury to stay safe. Don’t be like Daniel Craig’s character towards the end of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” That means, if someone offers you a ride, drink, or shelter and you don’t feel comfortable, don’t hesitate to say, “No, thanks.”