Running is a passion I often combine with my passion for travel. It’s a fantastic way to explore a new area as a quiet observer and take in a lot of sights in a relatively short time frame. Often, I will stop to take photos, study a sight for a few extra moments, or even enjoy a conversation with someone I encounter on a run. I always return from a run with a greater appreciate for the place I’m in, feeling a bit more like one of the locals because my explorations. But as a woman running alone, there are some important running safety tips to keep in mind, and some running safety gear that I recommend.
When possible, let someone know your planned route and estimated return time – and don’t deviate from it without an update!
I always let my husband know where I plan to go and how long I expect to be gone. If I find an interesting detour along the way, it only takes a quick text to let him know the change in route.
Wear a running belt that lets you carry some provisions.
My current favorite piece of running safety gear is the FlipBelt. Made of light-weight stretchy material, it fits comfortably around my waste, and has openings to slide my i-Phone, keys, mace, or other items safely into the belt. Running belts are compact and easy to pack in a suitcase to bring with you for your vacation runs.
Carry a charged cell phone.
Often the danger when out running, hiking, or walking is an accident, and a phone can be vital to letting someone know you are hurt and where you are.
Carry a defensive weapon that you will be comfortable using.
An important part of my running safety gear is the small weapon I carry. I personally carry a slim flip knife (similar to the one I’ve linked to at Amazon) that I clip to my FlipBelt so it is easily accessible. Mace or pepper spray are good items to carry, and the FlipBelt even has a clip to attach the keychain style cannisters. Tasers are another useful defensive tool, but they are not legal in all states. I like the flashlight taser as it is multi-purpose in its usefulness (also below in the Amazon links). Mace, pepperspray and knives can usually be packed safely in your checked baggage when traveling. Tasers are not ideal for traveling as they are not legal on all locations.
Run with a running partner or a dog whenever possible.
I like to run alone because I can run at my pace, enjoy the scenery, and truly relax and take in my surroundings, but when others want to join me, I let them. Often my husband will run with me when traveling. When at home, I usually take my 120 pound Rottweiler (though he isn’t really built for distance!).
Be aware of your surroundings and be prepared to fight!
Always pay attention to who is around you and what they are doing. When I started running 30 years ago, the general advice if attacked was to be compliant and survive. At that time, odds were good that an attacker would sexually assault you but wouldn’t kill you. That has changed over the years, and the prevailing advice now is fight and fight like hell because if your attacker gets you into their car or to a remote area, your odds of survival are not good. You must assume that an attacker intends to kill you and do everything in your power to stop them from taking you in the first place.
Skip the headphones!
Or at least only put in one earbud while running! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve passed a woman on the sidewalk who jumps as I go running by because she has her headphones in and didn’t hear me coming until I was right next to her or finally in her line of peripheral vision. Don’t do this – don’t let your music or podcasts take your complete attention so that you lose track of what is going on around you. If you are one of those people who just can’t stand running or walking without something to listen to, then turn the volume down and only put in one earbud so that you can hear what is happening around you, especially behind you.
Be confident and let the world see it!
Don’t stop running, hiking, walking, or exploring the world, but be sure to do it with confidence. Attackers are usually looking for easy targets, so don’t be an easy target. Look at people as they go by and take note of them. Keep your posture confident with your shoulders squared and your head up so anyone who sees you judges you as bold instead of meek. And the second you feel threatened, sound the alarm by immediately screaming, yelling and fighting back.
Before you know it, being alert and diligent will be second nature.
On all runs, whether at home or while on vacation, I always stay alert and on the look-out for threats. It can take away from the relaxation and enjoyment of the run to always be focusing on possible dangers, but it is vital as a woman out in the world alone to always be diligent about safety and never let your guard down. Below is my list of tips and advice on how to stay safe when out running alone:
It doesn’t take long for the precautions I’ve listed above to become part of your routine and more natural to you. Soon you will be taking in your surroundings and taking stock of the people around you with very little effort and very little disruption to your enjoyment and relaxation.
Amazon Links to Purchase or View Running Safety Gear Referenced in Article:
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Keychain Quick-Release Pepper Spray
Flip Knife with Clip
Taser/Stun Gun Flashlight
Hands-free Dog Leash
Stay safe running and keep exploring the world!To read more about my thoughts on running while vacationing, please see my article Should Women Let the Dangers of Running Alone While on Vacation Stop Them From Exploring the World? It is my reflections on the tragedies that befell two women runners in Greece over the last month, and what