A blog by runners. For runners.

Running safety: picking the safest route

Picking the right running route

Running with a buddy is one of the surest ways to stay safe on your daily loop. But if you prefer solo-jogs there are some smart things you can do to enjoy alone time all while staying out of harm’s way. We already have a number of safety tips on this site, but here are a few points that you may not have considered before – specifically related to where you choose to run.

Crash course
If you trek the same path at the same time day in and day out, it can become well worn. And while it’s important to know where you’re going to avoid getting lost, studying a map and finding a few new routes might be worth your while. Unfortunately, sticking the course everyday could attract unwanted attention. Though I have never had trouble, I used to run the same 4 miler every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. One day a (nice) neighbor said: “Oh, it must be 6 p.m.!” and it made me stop and think about my habits and others who might have noticed my pattern.

Guide to Running SafetyBusy streets
While you’re at it, try coming up with some routes that have you jogging through well lit, well populated places. That way, you won’t be isolated if you need help or literally run into trouble. One of my favorite methods is to run in a business district during the day. Somewhere I can find hospitals, restaurants, and other places to duck into for bathroom breaks, water, and help, if needed. If you run at night, try to stay – again – in a well-lit area with a good number of people around.

Tricky trails
While we’re big fans of trail running, running alone in the woods with few people around poses some major safety concerns. Aside from wildlife mishaps (bears, mountain lions, etc.) and trips and spills, you just don’t know what or who is out there. If you absolutely have to get your nature fix, keep it short – and be sure you let a friend or two know your plan (or invite them to join), where you are running, how far, and when you hope to finish.

Loose ends
Consider avoiding solo out-and-back runs because they have you the farthest away from home in case of emergencies. Do loops around your neighborhood or even go up and down streets to stick closer to known surroundings.

Home field disadvantage 
If you have become too accustomed to your paths (or city/town in general), your defenses might be dulled. Your body and mind might be on autopilot, but not matter how well you know a place, things can change. Stay on point by running a course backwards or trying the other side of the street/sidewalk for a change. Wake up your senses by unplugging from music or anything else that would otherwise distract you. Running is definitely a time to unwind and relax, but not at your safety’s expense.

How do you modify or change your routes to achieve optimal safety?

Written by Ashley Marcin.

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