How to Stay Safe While Out on a Run

written by Molly McKinney, Gazelle Sports Holland:

Last week, I had a close call. (Shh… don’t tell my mom.) I was at the end of my long run and came to an intersection where I waited for my turn to cross the street. When it was finally my turn, as indicated by the safe crossing traffic signal, the driver in the right turn lane did not have the same idea. My attempt for eye contact to the driver did not seem to work. I started to run anyway, and immediately jumped back when I saw the car getting closer to me. Whew. It was a little scary and made me realize the importance of staying safe during a run. Here are some tips and tricks to keep us safe and our moms happy.  

Be Seen: Wear bright, reflective gear when running at dawn, dusk or at night. Wear high-visibility, bright colored clothing. A reflective vest is a great option to own for all seasons. Use a headlamp or handheld light so you can see where you're going, and drivers can see you. The light should have a bright LED (drivers see blinking red as a hazard). You can never have too many lights on you. It’s best to look like a Christmas tree! We love Safety Skin Reflective Skin Spread

Identification on you: On your shoe, on a wrist band, in your handheld water bottle; make sure you include name, phone numbers, blood type and any other important medical information. You never know when you might need it.

Pretend you are Invisible. Do not assume anybody sees you. Make sure drivers, bikers, and others acknowledge your existence. Trust me.  

Always Stay Alert and Aware of What’s Going on Around You: You are less vulnerable when you stay aware, when you can hear your surroundings and are on high alert.  

Carry your cell phone: You never know when you might need it. I carry mine in a belt everytime I’m running alone.

Obey the rules of the road: Face oncoming traffic when you run, you will be able to react quicker than if a car comes up from behind you. Look both ways before crossing any street. Obey traffic signals, and make sure cars acknowledge your existence.

Write down or tell someone where and when you are running: On a recent vacation, I would always let someone know where I was running and about for how long. Just in case. Also, change up your running routes and times.  

Trust yourself and your intuition about a person or an area: Avoid unpopulated areas, overgrown trails, and deserted streets. Trust your gut feeling. It’s probably right.  

Ignore Verbal Harassment and do not verbally harass others: It’s happened before and it will happen again. Some people just like to shout things at runners. Just try to ignore them.  

Run with a partner: Or your dog. There is safety in numbers.  

Carry a noisemaker or pepper spray: You never know who or what you might encounter out on your run. A basic idea of self defense is helpful.

Do not block your ears from hearing your surrounding: There are some pretty awesome bone conducting headphones on the market right now. You are able to hear your surrounding while listening to podcasts, music, etc. Being fully aware of your surroundings helps keep you alert and aware of your environment. Aftershokz are great headphones, that allow you to hear surroundings no matter where you are.

Image from @aftershokz

On multi-use trail, follow the rules of the road: Stay to the right, pass on the left, and let people know when you are coming up behind them. And let’s be serious, say hi. We are all our there to enjoy the trail. Always look for bikers, walkers and other runners when stopping, turning around or making turns. When it’s nice out, trails can get very busy and you want to make for a great experience for everyone.

Watch out for blind curves and hills: Drivers’ vision can suddenly be impaired when they crest the hill by backdrops or sun glare. Be cautious. I try to stay as far to the left as I can.  

Be aware of high-risk drivers: Running early in the morning or late at night you may encounter tired drivers who are not as aware of their surroundings. Drivers have a lot of distractions these days. Be extra cautious. Stay alert!

Mind your manners: At a stop sign or light, wait for the driver to acknowledge or wave you through—then thank them with polite wave or smile. That acknowledgement will make the driver feel more inclined to do it again for the next walker or runner. Use hand signals (like on a bicycle) to show which way you plan to turn to allow drivers to know your plan.

Always expect the unexpected. It will keep us running safe and our moms happy.

Shop our collection of Safety Items for your next run!