Running tests your body’s physical limits in atypical, often unfamiliar settings. And no matter how far or fast you run, there are risks – dehydration, injuries, strangers, cars; the list goes on.
But these risks shouldn’t deter you from running, they should just ensure you take adequate precautions. There are also various running training plans available online that get you prepared enough so that you can focus on your training with nothing else on your mind.
This article is going to shed some light on our top 5 running safety tips, covering a wide range of risks. After all, it’s National Running Safety Month!
Tip 1: Water
This tip may seem obvious to some, but it is imperative that you bring enough water on your run. Know your body’s “waterless run” limit, and bring water with you for anything over that. Keep the temperature and humidity levels in mind as you make your decision.
As a general rule, maybe carry water for any run that will last for more than an hour. Having said that, everyone is different. Some might need to pack water for 30 minute runs. Know your own personal limit, and stick to it no matter what.
To help with this, do your route research. Many public trails will have water fountains throughout, but never rely on those unless you know where they are.
The bottom line is that you never want to be without water when you need it.
Tip 2: Reflective Gear For Night Runs
If your routine running time is early in the morning or late in the evening, it is very important that other pedestrians and drivers on the road see you clearly. And for that, a reflective running hat is one of the recommended things you need to have. And if you prefer a visor over a hat, a reflective visor is the perfect alternative for you.
However, for those of us in the northern hemisphere, night runs might be more common now that the days are getting shorter.
No matter what season it is, if you’re running at night, reflective gear is imperative.
Have you ever been driving in the dark, and encountered a pedestrian in dark, non-reflective clothing? If so, you know how much they blend in, even with your headlights on.
Many athletic apparel companies are including reflective details on their gear these days, and we think the more reflective gear the better!
When dressing for a night run, always think about yourself as a driver or another pedestrian at night. Think about what you would be able to see on another person.
Larger patches tend to be more effective than many small details scattered throughout an outfit.
And getting the gear is easier than you think – you can simply apply reflective tape to any of your non-reflective running gear and you’re set to go.
Be sure it’s on your front and back sides. If you’re a roadrunner, it’s generally safer to run against the grain of traffic, so that you can see cars coming.
But if traffic is much heavier going against you than it is with you, it might be safer in certain instances to run with traffic.
Because you never know what can happen on a run, always wear reflective details on both sides.
Tip 3: Lights
If you’re running at night, take lighting into your own hands.
Don’t rely on street lamps or the like, because even if you’re sure your route has them, you can never guarantee that they are working.
Instead, invest in a small flashlight, a headlamp, knuckle lights, or something else.
Lighting your path is crucial to avoid injuries and danger of any sort. Whether you are running on a road or a trail, you need to be able to see obstacles in front of you. Tripping over those is an injury you can easily avoid.
Furthermore, a headlamp or some small hand flashlights allow you to see animals, strangers, or anything else that you may want to avoid on your run.
Tip 4: Communication
No matter if you run by yourself or with friends, always let someone know before you head out.
Just send a simple text to a loved one letting them know where you’re headed and roughly how long you’ll be gone.
If you run with a smartphone or a smart watch, share your location with someone just in case you get lost or something else goes wrong.
Your loved ones appreciate specificity. If, for example, you think you’ll be gone for a certain amount of time but it’s a nice day out and you may extend your run once you get going, say that before you head out.
The more detailed your plans are, the better able your friends and family are to help immediately if something goes wrong.
As we know, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Tip 5: Protection
Lastly, carry protection. Running often puts us in secluded areas without much on us, leaving us relatively vulnerable.
Combat this by investing in small, easy-to-carry protection. Mace is often made small and wearable, and will be effective should you need to defend yourself.
This tip applies for daytime and nighttime running alike. Know your route, how visible it is by passersby, and about how many people will be on the same road or trail.
If you are at all concerned that you might be alone at any point in your run, protect yourself!
Like many of these tips, these are minor changes in your run set up that will be a major help should you need to use them.
Running gear is a fabulously nuanced industry. Running safety gear has been refined so that it hardly interferes with your run.
Take the adequate precautions so that you never need to worry about safety, and you can focus 100% on improving.
About The Author
Holly Martin is a San Francisco-based running coach and personal trainer. With a 20+ year background in dance, Holly brings a strong focus on technique and mobility to all of her coaching. Currently, she coaches online with The Run Experience, an online training community that specializes in providing half marathon training, beginner running plans, workouts and more. She trains clients at Midline Training and Nfinite Strength. Check out her blog for more advanced running tips and techniques.