Running Safety from a Woman’s Perspective

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It just so happens that my favorite run screams danger. I run across a busy highway, through part of a college campus full of busses and cars rushing to get to class on time, out a road with no bike lane or sidewalk (also notorious for speeding and distracted driving), and onto a dirt road that is almost always deserted. These runs are kind of the norm if you want to avoid stoplights and other interferences, but they also highlight the importance of safe practices on the run.

A few weeks ago I was running up that quiet dirt road when a car drove slowly by and came to a stop a few hundred feet in front of me. I can probably pinpoint that moment to the millisecond in my watch data because of how quickly my heart rate shot up in fear. Should I turn around and pick up the pace? Should I take the risk and run past the car? After a quick assessment, I decided to continue, but I pulled out my phone all the same. As it happened, it was only two students going on a hike, but I still feel lucky that it was.

While many circumstances don’t require such measures, I feel much more comfortable being prepared for those that do. In talking with my male counterparts at work the next week, I realized that many men don’t have those thoughts or feelings when running. I am certainly not saying all, and if you are a man reading this and sharing in these experiences, then the following tips will resonate with you too. With that, here are the extra precautions that I take to feel safe and protected on the run.

Pepper spray

Yes, they make runner friendly pepper spray that is similar to a basic hand-bottle. As much as I hated my parents giving me Christmas gifts of pepper spray as a child, I get it now. For the low price point and the small chance of actually needing to use it, this spray is a wonderful long-term investment in your safety.

Shop Pepper Spray

Use the buddy system

Your watch’s virtual race buddy does not count! Assemble a team of runner friends in a big group text and try your hardest to run with at least one other person each run. I know that this is easier said than done, but you are much less likely to be approached if you’ve got backup.

Run with your phone

I know that I just got even more controversial, but I don’t mess around with my safety, and I hope that you don’t either. Running with my phone strapped to my arm helps me contact loved ones for help if I run into trouble. There’s also the added bonus of bumping tunes out its built-in speaker (yes, bring on the verbal lashing). I, personally, don’t recommend headphones because it makes it harder to hear if you’re being approached.

Shop Running Phone and Electronic Carrying Systems

Make yourself visible

If you aren’t a fan of reflective vests or headlamps, I get you, but there are other ways to keep yourself visible while running. Many brands have created high visibility apparel that is pretty stylish.

Shop Illumination Gear

Shop High Visibility Apparel Women’s | Men’s

At the end of the day, whether a woman or a man, using safe practices on the run is the best way to stay out of danger and keep running as fun and enjoyable as it should be. I’d highly recommend incorporating some – if not all – of the above tips into your running routine so that you don’t have to panic when a car does something like park in front of you.

Sierra balances an overflowing schedule of work, college, and running, and can relate to any 20-something who’s trying to figure out life. Her running is her kind of self-care – and also the small amount of time that she gets to spend with herself every day, coming before all else (except her dog, Butters).

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