Staying safe while running

Our top tips to help you stay safe while you run

Running outdoors is a great way to stay motivated and keep your training sessions fresh and interesting. However, when planning a running session, one aspect that every runner should consider is their personal running safety. Here are our top tips to keep you safe while you run.

Planning your running route

  • It's better to run circular routes because you won't have to retrace your steps.
  • Avoid quiet areas or localities where it would be possible for someone to easily conceal their presence, such as alleyways surrounded by bushes.
  • Stick to well-lit, well-populated roads and paths, particularly when you are running in the dark.
  • Actively seek out and make a note of places on or nearby your running route where you could be certain of finding people in an emergency and where you would be able to call for help. For example, garages, shops, and so on.
  • Check out your training route beforehand, either on foot or in the car. See if there are any other runners using your route - if so, it's a good sign.
  • Try to train with a friend, or even in a group. Your local area may be home to a running club; if so, they will know the best and safest routes for running.
  • Before deciding whether or not to train with someone, make sure you take some time to trust them.
  • Tell someone before each training session which route you're going to run and what time you are likely to return. You can also arrange to contact your friend or family member when you return, in which case you will have to make sure you have already told them beforehand what action to take if you don't make contact.

What to take with you during your sessions

  • Think carefully about what is good to wear during your sessions. Some types of sportswear can attract unwelcome attention.
  • Ideally, don't wear expensive watches or jewellery when you are out running. If you must keep them on, make sure they are out of sight.
  • Don't wear caps or hooded tops, or any other headwear that will restrict how much you can see when you're out running.
  • Wearing headphones could mean you don't hear trouble approaching and may take your attention away from your immediate surroundings. Carrying expensive equipment may also make you more conspicuous to thieves. If you wish to listen to an MP3 player, try using only one headphone when you're running, rather than both.
  • Keep valuable items safe and out of sight by putting them in a secure pocket or bum bag.
  • Taking a mobile phone will enable you to call for help or let someone know you have made a change in your running plans.
  • Have a travel card or some money on you so that you are able to get home if you can't   walk or run back.
  • Carry an alarm will boost your confidence about your personal safety. Setting it off can shock and disorientate an attacker, thereby giving you the opportunity to get away. You will need to keep your alarm on you, ideally clipped to your side, and ensure that it emits a noise of at least 130 decibels.
  • If you're not completely familiar with your planned route then take a map with you. You should be able to find and print out a map of your route from the internet.

When you're out jogging or running

  • Be aware of everything that goes on near you and particularly in front of you. The earlier you notice a possible problem the greater chance you will have of dealing with it.
  • Listen to your instincts. Something that doesn't look or seem right will probably cause a problem - so if you notice something like this, move yourself away from it as quickly as you can.
  • Solely push yourself within your personal running fitness limits. If trouble occurs you will need to possess enough remaining energy to get away.
  • A decent warm-up will help you to prepare for your run, but if you happen to subsequently feel ill or become injured,  don't try to keep running. Instead, find a safe route home - but be sure to avoid taking dangerous short cuts such as unlit alleyways.
  • If you're running in a group ensure no-one is left on their own trailing at the back. If a training partner needs to stop running, accompany them back home or to the closest form of transport.
  • Vary your running route and the time each day that you go out.
  • If you're running or jogging next to roads then make sure you face oncoming traffic rather than have your back to it, and avoid parked cars that have people in them.
  • Don't accept lifts from strangers, no matter how tired you may be.
  • If you happen to think of a way in which parts of your running route can be made safer, such as cropping vegetation or adding street lighting, then why not ask your local council to get it fixed?

What to do if you become threatened or feel anxious while out running

  • Don't panic. Breathe out, so that you can reduce anxiety and breathe properly. Doing this will help you to think clearly.
  • Whenever possible, move away from the threatening situation and take a route towards a public place where you can find other people and where you will be able to call for help. Such places include shops, garages and police stations.
  • If you're threatened and a potential attacker demands you give them your possessions keep in mind that your personal safety is your first priority. Your possessions are replaceable and giving them up is usually the only rational thing to do to avoid being hurt.
  • If you become trapped, your voice will often be your best form of defence. Be as noisy as you can and shout a specific instruction such as "Call the police" so people know what to do.
  • If you possess a personal alarm, switch it on as close to your attacker's ear as you can. An alarm that has a level of 130 decibels or higher will shock and disorientate an attacker and could give you vital moments to run away.
  • Verbal abuse from onlookers or passers-by can sometimes be extremely insulting, but it's often best to not reply, ignore it, and keep running. If you feel threatened, head towards the nearest public area.
  • Dogs can sometimes be a problem and it can be difficult to tell whether or not they are a threat to you. If a dog isn't on a lead and can potentially chase you, it's often a good idea not to run away but to stop instead and shout "Sit", "No" or "Down" firmly. Also, look for its owner and get them to call or deal with their pet.
  • If you are involved in or are a witness to an incident, make sure you report it to the police as soon as you can, as this way you may help prevent another person from becoming a victim.


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