While I love to hit the mountain or desert trails, I still largely identify myself as an urban runner. There is something about running through the tall buildings and along the busy streets that I find really rewarding.
Running through urban areas does come with its own set of risks and since November is National Running Safety Month, I thought I'd share 10 tips on how to stay safe out on the streets.
Run against traffic.
This may seem like no big deal, but running against traffic allows you to see the cars coming and them to also see you more easily. Yes, even when you're running on the sidewalk. I reversed my primary route a couple years ago just so the majority of the route would be against traffic, and I feel much safer.
Obey traffic laws.
I cannot stress this one enough! Cross streets only at intersections and wait for the WALK sign. I know it's tempting to look both ways and then just go for it. I know waiting for lights can be a pain and a time suck. However, I also know how difficult it can be at times - especially at really busy intersections - to tell who exactly has the right of way. It's best to just wait your turn.
Plan your route ahead of time.
Knowing where you're going from the start allows you to focus more on your surroundings and lessens your risk of ending up in an area you don't want to be. If you want some freedom during your run, at least plan the general area of where you'll be running.
Let someone know where you're going.
Jeff likes to know the general area of where I'll be running, so he can give the police a general area to start looking should I not come home from a run. 😱 I also let him know approximately how long I'll be gone, so he knows when to start worrying. He's never had to come looking for me, but it's comforting to know where I'll be and how long I'll be gone.
Wear bright colors with reflective decals. 🎽
This is more important during dawn, dusk, and of course, after nightfall, but bright colors are never a bad idea. Help drivers see you even better by also using a headlamp when it's really dark outside.
Run with an alarm or personal safety device.
When I run by myself, I carry a stun gun and wear a personal alarm. Thankfully, I've never had to use either and while even the small models designed for runners can be inconvenient to carry/wear, I feel better when I have them with me. Just having them is a deterrent for anyone with nefarious plans, but it's also important to make sure you know how to use them. Jeff periodically quizzes me to make sure I know what I'm doing out there.
Bring your phone.
Again, while not always convenient, it could be a great tool if the worst case scenario happens. If you get lost or taken, the GPS in your phone can help track your location. If you fall and twist your ankle, you can call for help. If you find yourself in a sketchy location or too tired to continue, your phone might come in handy.
Wear an ID bracelet.
As runners, we never want to think about worst case scenarios, but unfortunately, sometimes they do happen. You might have done everything right - planned your route, ran against traffic, obeyed all traffic laws - but accidents can still happen. In the case of an accident, your phone or wallet may go flying, but if you wear a Road ID (like I do) or another form of securely attached identification, the paramedics will more easily be able to identify you and contact someone to inform them of the accident.
Skip the headphones. 🎧
I know, I know. Music helps make you run faster and helps make the run go by faster. But, you CAN run without it! I promise. Of course, we all have days when you just need that little extra push. I get it. Still, headphones can block the noises of traffic on the streets or other pedestrians sharing the sidewalk with you. I'd recommend just turning up the volume on your phone and leave the headphones at home. If you absolutely need headphones, perhaps invest in a pair of bone conduction headphones like AfterShokz which do not cover your ears. I have a pair, and they are amazing!
Above all else, be aware of your surroundings. If you pass someone on the sidewalk, look over your shoulder to make sure they are continuing away from you. Pay attention to the traffic alongside you. Watch for any obstacles that may otherwise catch you off-guard.
Remember... a safe runner 🏃 is a happy runner. 😁
Are you an urban runner?
How do you stay safe when hitting the streets?