January is National Self-Defense Awareness Month, so what better time to remind ourselves of important safety tips while we’re outdoors exercising and running. It may be cold out, but that’s all the more reason to be alert–staying bundled up in a hat and scarf while running or looking down to avoid the chilly wind can put you at an increased risk. To stay safe on the road, make sure you know these 10 safety tips while running.
According to the Road Runners Club of America, here are some of their top personal safety tips to remember when running:
Don’t wear headphones. Yes, we all like our tunes when we’re running, and many of us can attest to the fact that music helps motivate us to run faster and farther. But, the RRCA says this can be very distracting because our ears can alert us to upcoming danger.
Run against traffic. Make sure you are always heading down the road against oncoming traffic so you can see cars that are approaching. Better yet, hop on the sidewalk.
Be aware. One of the great things about running outdoors is the meditation and relaxation that comes with it. Just make sure you don’t zone out too much. You should always stay alert and aware of what’s going on around you. This will ultimately make you less vulnerable.
Don’t be predictable. Alter your running route during the week. Try to avoid doing the same route and the same times each time you run.
Choose roads wisely. Avoid unpopulated areas, deserted streets, and overgrown trails. Same goes for unlit areas, especially at night. And steer clear of parked cars or bushes where strangers could be lurking. When you head out for a run, let someone know where you are going and what time you expect to return. Make sure others know the route you will be running.
Ignore verbal harassment. If someone tries to harass you while you are running, do not engage. Look directly at others and be observant, but keep your distance and keep moving, recommends the RRCA. On the same note, practice memorizing license tags or identifying characteristics of strangers in case you do get harassed.
Don’t run alone in strange places. In unfamiliar areas, such as while traveling, the RRCA says you can contact a local RRCA club to connect with other runners. Remember, there is safety in numbers. Even at home, it’s a good idea to run with a partner–or a dog.
Wear safe gear. If it’s early morning or evening when you’re running, wear reflective material on your shirt and shoes. Also, carry a noisemaker or whistle in case someone tries to get too close and harass you.
Carry I.D. Make sure you always have personal identification with you. Or, write your name, phone number, and blood type on the inside sole of your running shoe along with any pertinent medical information, says the RRCA.
Trust your intuition. Women have great intuition. If there’s a stranger running near you who makes you uncomfortable, take an alternate, well-traveled route. Same with a road or trail that gives you an uneasy feeling. Avoid them.
Your other best strategy in protecting yourself? Take a self-defense class.
Keep running…but stay safe.