Here are a few tips to help keep you safe and sound on your next run!

Wear Reflective Clothing/Lights

Lots of us love running in the late hours of the evening or the early hours of the morning. There is something liberating about being out on a run when most everyone else is in bed asleep. But running at these times comes with a rather obvious sense of danger – limited visibility.

Like it or not, we need to be extremely visible when out for a run at night. Oncoming traffic and even pedestrians need to be able to see where we are and where we are going. Wearing reflective gear from head to toe, along with a light-vest and headlamp are great ways to ensure that people can see us at all times.

They also help us see where we are going. This is especially important for those of us who run trails where streetlamp coverage is not always the best. The last thing you want is to be running in the dark and hurt yourself because you missed a step.

Light the way and stay visible.

Pick the Right Time to Run (whenever possible)

Hand-in-hand with running in the dark is picking the right time to run in the first place. Most of us who choose to run late at night or early in the morning do so because there aren’t many people around. However, depending on where we live this can also be an added liability.

It is important to understand our local communities and surroundings to know when it is safe to go out for a run, and when we should avoid going out alone.

Beyond our personal safety, there is also the issue of congestion. Let’s face it, the world is getting to be a fairly crowded and busy place. Rush-hours seem to get longer, and longer and peak volumes can be difficult and dangerous to contend with.

That said, not all of our schedules allow us the freedom to pick the ideal times to venture out for a run – so make sure you take note of the other safety tips in this article to ensure your runs are safe and enjoyable!

Stick to a Pre-planned Route (& tell a friend)

Stick to a pre-planned route and let someone know when and where you are going. I cannot stress this point enough. Leave a note or send a message to a loved one and let them know. People get lost, hurt, and worse. Having someone who knows where to look for you and when can be the very thing that saves your life.

What to include:

  • Where you are going
  • When you expect to be back
  • Who you are going with (if anyone)
  • Bonus: Description of what you are wearing

Run with a Partner

If you are scared or anxious about going out by yourself, bring a friend along for the adventure! Running with a partner (or group) can do wonders for your self-confidence, but it can also deter any would be predators as well.

Stick together and if you get separated, make sure you have frequent stops to meet up and ensure everyone is doing well on the run. This is an especially important tip if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are brand new to running and exercise and may need a little more attention and TLC. Keeping an eye on your training partners and vice versa is a vital part of keeping one another happy and healthy and getting the most out of these adventures.

Bring Necessary Medication

Make sure you bring any necessary lifesaving medications with you. You wouldn’t travel or go to work or school without your medications, med-alert bracelet, etc. so don’t go and exercise without them either.

This may seem like a “no duh!” moment. But the amount of people who go for runs, hikes, or to the gym without their medication, or without telling their training partners or the gym their medical conditions is what gets so many into trouble.

Running in Different Weather Conditions

Dress for success. With running, that means wearing actual running shoes and weather-appropriate clothing that allows you to move.

Running in Hot Sun-exposed Weather

  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Shorts
  • T-Shirt/Tank Top
  • Running Shoes

Running in Cool & Wet Weather

  • Water Proof/Resistant Top
  • Light Thermal Layer
  • Sweatpants or Shorts with Leggings
  • Running Shoes
  • Light Toque

Running in Icy & Cold Weather

  • Thermal Layer
  • Windbreaker Top
  • Sweatpants or Shorts with Thicker Leggings
  • Running Shoes + Spike Grips
  • Toque
  • Gloves/Mittens
  • Sunglasses (if sunny)
  • Sunscreen (if sunny)

Running in Foggy Weather

  • Light Vest/Reflective Clothing
  • Water Proof/Resistant Long Sleeve Top
  • Shorts + Leggings
  • Running Shoes

Running with Headphones

Running with headphones is one of the most dangerous things most runners do on a regular basis. I get it – we all want to listen to our music when we go out for a run. I’m guilty of this too. However, those headphones block out the noise of people, cars, animals, and more – all things I think we can agree we want to be aware of.

If you must wear headphones – only wear them in one ear. This means if you are a frequent user of over-the-ear noise cancelling headphones – you may need to search through that junk drawer in your home or go buy a cheap pair online. Yes, it is annoying. Yes, it may just save your life or keep you from being injured.

And even though you have on ear already exposed to the world, make sure you also keep the volume in that single headphone to a minimum. It will still impede your ability to hear on that side, so be careful.

Personal Safety Devices

I won’t say too much here because each country/city may have different rules of what you are or are not allowed to carry with you and use.

That said, personal safety devices can be the difference between you being bear meat or otherwise a victim. You matter – your life matters. Protect yourself and stay alert when you are out on your runs.

I can’t tell you how many times while out on trails I’ve come face to face with a mama bear and her cubs. Or come across someone up to no good while running in the city. Be careful and stay safe. Don’t put yourselves in potentially dangerous and life-threatening situations.

(PSA: Black Bears are generally not aggressive, just give them space and they will likely run off when they see you. If you do find yourself being stalked down by a black bear, slowly back away and make yourself as big and loud as possible.)

Cities present their own risks as well. If you came across a scene like this, would you run on the left sidewalk or the right sidewalk? Well, you should run on the right sidewalk – or even better, in the road where it is better lit. Avoid placing yourself in very dangerous and risky situations.

Be smart. Take care of yourself and don’t take any unnecessary risks.

Fuel Appropriately & Stay Hydrated

In the Ultimate Couch to 5km Program there are days where you do both resistance training and go for a run. It is important to make sure you properly fuel for your day’s training. With more intense days where you do both resistance training and running, it is highly recommended to split them up by at least 6 hours and a full meal.

You want to have the necessary energy and strength to get through your training without succumbing to exhaustion and fatigue. Stay hydrated by drinking consistently throughout your day – not just a lot at once. Also make sure you have proper electrolyte balance and have been eating healthy and taking in enough energy (carbohydrates) to perform.

For longer runs, you may even need to bring a light snack or hydration packet with you on your run or while at the gym.

If you feel tired, lightheaded, dizzy, or otherwise unwell – stop immediately and get help. This is another big reason as to why you should always let someone know when and where you are going when training. As well as why having a training partner is so beneficial.

Run Against Traffic

Last but not least – for those of us who are stuck running alongside the road – make sure you do so by running against the traffic. It may seem counterintuitive to some, but it allows both you and the oncoming driver to see one another, so you don’t accidentally step out in front of them. It also allows you the opportunity to move further off the road if necessary as you can see them coming and prepare accordingly.

This is yet another example as to why running with only one headphone in can save your life. If you don’t hear a car approaching, it could mean life or death.

Running alongside the road is never really advisable, but some people have no choice – there are no trails, tracks, paths, or other places where they can run. Once again – you want to be able to hear, stay visible, and act according to the situation in order to stay safe and protect yourself at all times.