If you have to run in the dark, here are a few rules to follow that will keep you running safely for years and miles to come.

Fitting in a run at night often means running in the dark and that means being extra cautious about where and how you run. It’s a given that we should practice running safety every time we go out, regardless if it’s a midday 5-miler or a quick nighttime jog, but running at night poses a greater threat to our unprotected bodies against motorists, unmarked ditches, potholes and attackers.

If you must run in the dark or even prefer it, here are a few night road rules to live by:

Contents

1. Be aware.

It’s easy to zone-out or contemplate what’s for dinner on a long run, but it’s important to pay attention to your surroundings as well. Simply being aware can be the difference between minutes or seconds of preventing an accident, especially in the dark when it becomes harder to distinguish objects from people.

2. Run a familiar route.

Tonight is not the time to explore that remote trail or plan a new route through the neighborhood. Stick with the paths you’ve ran a million times to the point where you’ve memorized every tree, corner and building along it. However, don’t run the same route every night either. This may create a pattern for unwanted creepers to track you. Instead establish the routes you’re comfortable running and switch it up every other night to keep it random.

3. Carry an ID on you.

Whether it’s a driver’s license in your pocket or an ID bracelet, it will prove useful if first responders need to identify you and contact loved ones.

4. Run against traffic.

Facing traffic as you run not only provides drivers a clear view of what’s ahead of them, but also gives you a visual of oncoming vehicles in case you need to make any last-minute maneuvers. If possible, try avoiding rush hour times—the less cars you have to deal with the better. If you find headlights blinding, wear a cap or visor.

5. Run with a buddy or join a running group.

As cliché as it may sound, safety is truly greater in numbers. Women should especially avoid running solo after dark in poorly lit areas.

6. Bring a cellphone.

A phone can prove useful for utilizing special tracking apps and/or simply to call someone when you’re in a pinch. With a push of a button on your phone, the free bSafe app sends an emergency message or calls designated friends who can respond and even locate you on a map. You can also download the free Road ID app that allows emergency contact info to be displayed on a smartphone even when it’s locked. It also has an additional feature called eCrumb that tracks runners via GPS, allowing friends and family to follow you during a workout. Luckily, many people tend to run with their phones, but if you’re the type who likes to stay off the grid while running, perhaps it’s wise to reconsider, at least for night running.

7. Ditch the headphones.

Or if you must listen to music, leave a single earbud in so the other ear can hear for oncoming cars, trains—and even people. According to last year’s study from the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, incidents involving pedestrians wearing headphones hit by cars and trains have increased threefold in the past six years. The worst part is that in 70 percent of those incidences, the runner or walker was killed.

8. Wear reflective or brightly colored clothing.

These days there’s plenty of neon, light-reflecting run apparel and shoes designed for the night-conscious runner. Wearing a headlamp also helps to light the way and works to alert vehicles of your presence before it’s too late.

One of the beautiful things about running is its simplicity. But, as with nearly any activity, it comes with inherent risks that can keep you on your toes. From inattentive drivers on the road to unexpected obstacles on the trail, there are a number of potential hazards that runners of all backgrounds and skill levels can fall prey to.

“It’s important for everyone to use common sense and practice safety,” says Nancy Hobbs, founder and executive director of the American Trail Running Association. “Be alert, be prepared. Weather is not gender-specific, nor is running out of food or water, encountering an animal, or tripping over a rock and breaking an ankle.”

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Brian McPherson, an endurance athlete who lives and trains in Boulder, Colorado, competes in major marathons and trail races year-round and all over the country. He can confirm that one key factor—awareness—is important for all. “I believe safety tips are helpful for any runner, even if it’s just a refresher,” he says. “We all get complacent at some point, especially as training ramps up and fatigue starts to set in.”

Here are several practical safety tips that can help you avoid dangerous situations on the road or trail:

Bring Your Phone Along

Your phone isn’t just good for taking sweaty selfies or Instagrammable pictures of your running route—it can also be a valuable tool in case of emergencies. “Always carry a cell phone, and make sure the battery is charged,” says Hobbs, adding that it’s best to run in places that have good cell signal. Enabling the medical ID function or downloading GPS tracking apps are some easy and effective ways your phone can help to keep you safe.

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Maybe you hate running with your phone, or it’s not always possible to have a buddy along with you on a run. In these cases, McPherson recommends sharing your plans—where you’ll be and how long you expect to be out—with a friend or family member. “Be proactive to let someone know you are out on a run, or leave a note just in case something unexpected happens.” Also, don’t forget to text your contact when you’ve finished your run and are safely back home.

Consider the Weather

Whether (no pun intended) you’re planning on racking up miles on the roads or tackling the trails, it’s wise to check up on any precipitation predictions so you know what’s in store during your run. (Here are some top-rated weather apps that can keep you up to date.) “Be prepared for the conditions as they are and what they might become,” Hobbs says. “If there is lightning, find a trench or some place low and covered. Better yet, don’t go out if lightning is threatening.”

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A peek at the weather forecast can also help you determine how to gear up appropriately, particularly when running surfaces are slick. “Always be sure to wear appropriate footwear for the terrain you are running on. For example, opt for a nicely treaded sole on a rainy day,” McPherson says.

Protect Yourself

In areas frequented by potentially dangerous wildlife, Hobbs strongly suggests carrying appropriate gear, such as bear spray or loud whistles to scare off predators. However, the same could be used in encounters with human assailants—ignore verbal harassment and avoid confrontation if possible, but have mace or some other type of self-defense spray easily accessible for worst-case scenarios. As mentioned earlier, it’s also ideal to have your phone handy in case you need to dial 911. (If you are on trails frequented by wildlife, take a look at this guide on how to deal with several animals.)

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Be Mindful of Dogs

If you are a dog owner, use a leash out of consideration for fellow runners who aren’t keen on being jumped on, knocked off balance, or potentially frightened. (Keep in mind that not everyone is a dog person.) Conversely, those running without four-legged friends should try to keep a wide berth around leashed pets so as not to trip over a long lead or the dog itself.

Worried About Your Surroundings? Ditch the Headphones

Not only do headphones make you vulnerable to approaching traffic or potential attackers, they often make for unpleasant interactions with others who are out on a run. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come upon a headphone-clad runner who is clueless that I am coming up behind them (even when I say hello),” Hobbs says. “If the person can’t hear me, they also can’t hear a rattlesnake in the bushes.”

Can’t go without your headphones? Consider a brand like Aftershokz, where the speakers wrap around your ears instead of going directly in, meaning you can still hear loud noises right around you.

Be Seen

Running while facing traffic is generally the best course of action, but McPherson suggests using your best judgment for which side of the road is safest to run on based on shoulder space. “I will oftentimes switch sides of the road on dangerous blind corners or hills,” he says.

And, while pounding out those miles in the cool of the morning or night is a great way to avoid overheating in the warmer months, it also makes it harder for runners to see—and to be seen. McPherson urges runners who are out on dark roads to wear brightly colored or reflective clothing and a light source. “Always have a headlamp when it’s dark so you can see clearly and prevent injuries. Plus, it helps commuters to easily identify you as a runner.”

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At just 6.5 ounces, you’ll forget you’re wearing it. But with 360-degree visibility, motorists will spot you from blocks away.

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With up to 10 hours of burn time, this will keep you visible on even the longest of nighttime runs. If steady lights aren’t enough, turn on the strobe settings.

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Remember those slap-on bracelets that were so fun as a kid? Well this is the adult version, and it’s made to keep fitness lovers safe outside at night.

Nathan Zephyr Fire 300 Hand Torch amazon.com $28.92

Strap this torch around either hand and hit the trail. The downward angle lights up your path, but you can also point it ahead to scope out your route.

Need more help to maximize your safety? Here are some other tips that always work.

  • On trail runs, bring food with you. Even on short runs, you never know if you’ll be in the woods longer than expected.
  • New to an area? Join a running group or recruit a training partner to run with you.
  • Always assume drivers cannot see you. Also, remember that most drivers are distracted—texting, talking, or dealing with kids in the back seat of the car.
  • Run a variety of routes so your routine is not predictable.
  • If you track your runs on an app like Strava or MapMyRun, check your privacy settings to make sure only those people who you want to see your runs have access to your routes.
  • Studies show flashing lights are more eye-catching than solid lights. Use them!
  • Maximize reflective gear and accentuate moving parts like your arms, legs, and ankles.

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One of the best things about running is that you can do it almost anywhere, any time of the day or night.

Nonetheless, most runners, including me, prefer logging in our miles during the day when the sun is out and shining.

But that’s not always the case.

In fact, daytime savings, busy schedules, family obligations, and so on, can get in the way of a regular running program during the daytime.

That’s why we sometimes are forced to make the shift to running in the darkest hours of the day, whether it’s the early morning or late in the evening.

And the thing is, if you find yourself hitting the road during these hours, you gonna have to take extra precautions to ensure a safe running experience. Staying safe while running in the dark requires a bit of planning.

But fret no more. I got you covered buddy. Today I decided to spill the beans on nighttime running.

Whether you end up planning to run outside when it’s all dark, here is what you need to do for a safe and enjoyable outdoor exercise experience.

1. Have situational awareness

By far, this is the cardinal rule of safety.

Situational awareness is the overarching principle of safe outdoor exercise—not just during the nighttime, but also during any hour and moment of the day.

If you abide by this rule, you’ll drastically reduce the risks of getting yourself in a dangerous situation; be it an attack, a car accident, or tripping over an obstacle.

Therefore, practice what I call the “360° Awareness Circle” skill.

And here is is what it’s all about…

First of all, be aware of your surroundings and what lies ahead. Steer clear of quiet alleys, dark parks, unpopulated areas, overgrown trails, deserted streets, and the sort.

Instead, stick with busier streets, staying on the left side of the road—preferably under streetlight— the entire time.

Next, keep your eyes straight ahead, check your sides, and turn to check what’s behind you every once in a while—especially if you feel anything out of place.

Plus, keep your eyes open for obstacles that can trip you up. Rocks, broken concrete, gumballs, drivers, and everything in between. And please, be extra attentive to any leery people on your running route.

Also, do not let your mind wonder or zone-out during a night run. Instead of scanning your mind—that’s thinking by the way—scan your surroundings.

In fact, as a runner, you are the most exposed to a potential attack when you are lost in your head and not paying complete attention to what’s happening around you.

In other words, lose your mind and come to your senses.

2. No Headphones Allowed

I love running with my music on. In fact, there is nothing better than a little Metallica to get me going hard and fast during a run.

But when it comes to staying safe during nighttime exercise, running with headphones is not the wise thing to do.

Why?

When you are running at night, you’ll usually have your vision drastically impaired. Thus, you’ll need your ears to guide you forward, telling you what’s in front of you and behind.

With that said, loud music restricts and limits your hearing and distracts you from your environment, cutting you completely from what’s happening around you.

In fact, according to a study from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and The University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, traffic incidents involving pedestrians wearing headphone has tripled from 2004 to 2011.

The worst part is that a whopping 70 percent of these incidences resulted in the death of the pedestrian.

So, please, don’t block out noise by cranking loud music. It’s not the smart thing to do—no matter how tempting it is.

If you feel like you have to run with your headphones, then make sure have the volume low enough that you can hear what’s happening around you, whether it’s people, oncoming cars, trains or cyclists.

Also, use one ear bud (tuck the other bud safely into your shirt or jacket), and keep an ear anything that might be heading your way.

3. Be Traffic Smart

Traffic is another huge source of a headache for us runners—especially city dwellers. In fact, cars are the biggest source of danger during night time running.

Roughly 80,000 pedestrians get injured each year by cars in the U.S. and the risks of being struck increases 10-fold after dark, with the majority of accidents occurring in the evening hours, between 6 p.m. and midnight, according to the Center for Diseases Control.

The number of fatalities is also, huge. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 4800 pedestrians sustained fatal injuries in traffic crashes in the U.S. in 2015.

And as a runner, you are, basically, a pedestrian on steroids.

Here are the sensible steps you need to take:

First, never run in the same direction as traffic. Instead, run against it. By facing traffic, you’ll be getting a clear view of oncoming cars in case you need to perform any last-minute evasive maneuver.

Secondly, do not make the mistake of assuming that a driver can you. Instead, assume that every driver is busy texting, talking on the phone, listening to the radio or just lost in thoughts. In other words, run a like a defensive driver.

Furthermore, obey traffic signals the entire time. They are there for your safety. So, please, dot not ignore the what seems to be mundane rules.

Here are the main ones:

  • Look both ways before crossing the streets, even if there is a stop sign nearby.
  • Slow it down, or fully stop, at a curb to get a full picture of the road ahead.
  • Make eye contact with a driver before crossing in front of them.
  • Keep your eyes on reverse light and an ear for cars with running motors.

4. Run With a partner

I hate to sound like a cheap cliché, but there is strength in numbers.

Why a partner?

Well, it’s a no-brainer.

By running with a partner, you’ll have an extra set of ears and eyes to be on the lookout for anything strange and/or out of place. And this will drastically reduce the risk of someone accosting you.

Not only that, peering up with a buddy can also boost your motivation and consistency. This can definitely help you become a better runner.

So, don’t you want to be a safe and better runner? I bet you do.

As a result, consider enlisting a running buddy. Ask your running friends, join online runners’ forums. Or just join a local running club. They must have night time running plans.

5. Leave Word

If you had to go solo, then at least, leave word about the route you’re running and roughly how long you’ll be gone.

So, please let your family members, friends, roommates, or a neighbor know where you are going, as well as what time they should hear back from you.

Once you are back home, be sure to touch base and let them know that you are safe and sound.

6. Have Your ID on

Carry your personal identifications with you, such as a driver’s license, or an ID card. Put it in your pocket or handbag, use an ID bracelet, or wear an ID tag on your running shoes.

Also, write your name, address, a list of emergency contacts, blood type, and any other medical information on the inside of your running shoes.

In other words, don’t be a John, or Jane, Doe.

Who knows! Maybe you’ll end up never needing it. But it’s better to be safe than sorry.

7. Run in Well-lit and Populated Areas

Funny picture. Don’t trust runners. They always find the dead bodies.

Venturing down a dark path in the park during the nighttime is a recipe for disaster.

This is especially the case if you are trail running junkie. In fact, trails are not recommended for night running. Poor visibility, ankle sprains, uneven surfaces, wild animals; you know the risks.

Also, by hitting the trails during the dark hours, you’re setting yourself up as the perfect prey, making it easy for some someone to attack you.

Thus, if you do the bulk of your training on trails or remote routes, then you gotta rethink your running route.

As a rule of thumb, stick to well-lit and busier venues, preferably areas that are lit by streetlamps. This is the safest bet.

For some of you this option might sound boring, but I’d rather be a bored runner, than end up in the emergency room, or worse, the morgue.

So, please, don’t be another statistic.

8. Get the right Gear for the Job

The equipment you go for during the night time is also essential. That’s why you need to consider investing in a few items to ensure safety.

Here a few of the essentials:

The Right Clothing

As a rule of thumb, you should always top for clothes designed for the night-conscious runner. These almost always have a sort of reflective bit in them, typically plenty of neon, light-reflecting properties.

Why?

Well, the more reflective your clothing is, the more visible you are going to be on the road. Thus, the safer you’ll be.

Reflectors Around your Joints

For more visibility, be sure to strap on a few reflectors around your joints, mainly your shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles.

Doing so will not only make you instantly stand out from a still object like a tree or a mailbox, but also tell the driver which direction you are going.

In case you cannot afford them, then use reflective tape or straps instead.

Headlamps

A good headlamp can cut through the darkness just like a hot knife through butter, helping you pick the safest route, while putting an end to visibility issues—the main source of trouble during night time running.

Clear glasses and a billed cap

These two items are critical for protecting your eyes at night.

The clear glasses will serve as a sort of shield for your eyes from cobwebs, thin branches, bugs, leaves and other obstacles.

While, on the other hand, the bill of a cap will protect your eyes from tree branches and other unseen obstacles that might obstruct your path.

9. Vary your Routes

Picture. Notes of a serial killer stalker.

This tip might make you feel like a CIA secret agent conducting a clandestine operation in a hostile country.

Yet, this is something you should consider doing—especially if you live in a not-so-safe area, or tend to follow a rigid running routine.

And here it is:

Alter your running routine by running a few different routes and at different times throughout the week to keep it random. If that can’t be done, then feel free to run your typical running route backward.

Why is that?

Well, sticking to a rigid running routine creates a sort of predictable pattern for creepers and stalkers to track you.

Conversely, the less predictable you are, the less likely you are making for someone to track you and learn your habits.

Of course, random attacks do happen, but for the most part, stalkers usually pick their victims by observing a given area and looking for patterns. And if you end up on their radar, they will be able to predict where and when you’re going to be solo during a night run. As you can tell, this is bad. Really bad.

To err on the safe side, consider keeping pepper spray or a Taser gun on you (depending on your state’s laws, of course).

10. Bring a Cell Phone

A mobile phone, when used right, is another measure you can take to ensure safety during nighttime workouts.

As a result, keep your phone with you at night. Bring your cell with you even if you prefer staying off the grid while running, (it’s your solo time, after all, so I won’t blame you).

So be sure to have your phone on you. If you don’t have a pocket or bag to safely (and comfortably) carry your phone, then opt for an armband.

If you are in a pinch or got yourself embroiled in an unfortunate situation, use it. Call the police. Call your friends. Call everyone.

11. Use Apps

If you’re going to take your phone with you, then be sure to put modern technology to your advantage by using special tracking apps and safety apps.

Some of the best security apps include bSafe. This one sends an alert message with your exact location to a list of emergency friends (or Guardians) who can respond promptly.

RunSafe is also another great option. This has the same functionality as most fitness apps, with GPS-enabled tracking and all.

Not only that, but it also has, just like bSafe, a sort of panic button that triggers a siren and strobe light, records videos, alert the authorities and tells them your exact GPS location.

These can come in handy in cases of extreme emergency.

12. Follow your Instinct

In the end, gut feelings are what might save the day.

Hence, if the hairs on the back of your neck stand up for no apparent reason, or if a given situation is giving you the heebies jeebies, then trust that feeling, change directions, and run to a safer location.

If something tells you a situation is not right, it usually because it isn’t. Those gut feelings have protected us for millions of years, and they are there for a reason.

And do not think twice about alerting the authorities. In fact, call the police in case you notice anything suspicious, whether it’ s person, a car, a situation, you name it. You might end up saving someone else by doing so.

In other words, if you see something, say something.

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Conclusion

Yes.

Yessss.

I know that I do sound paranoid, but don’t get me wrong here. The above running safety guidelines aren’t meant to scare you.

Not at all.

These are the no-brainer, must, things you should be doing anyway whenever you’re outside.

After all, in my opinion, nothing is more important than your safety.

Get your running habit started right with this time-tested advice.

*Courtesy of Competitor.com

Get your running habit started right with this time-tested advice.

1. Keep yourself accountable
Setting goals is a given, but sticking to them is another thing altogether. After setting your goal for the new year—completing a race, running three days a week or losing a certain amount of weight—tell people about it, either by confiding in another person or announcing it on social media.

2. Get some good gear
Running’s start-up costs are minimal, but a good pair of running shoes and functional apparel are worth the investment. Getting the right gear will not only solidify your commitment, it will also make running much more enjoyable.

3. Start a training log
Whether it’s a blank notebook where you can jot down the details of your workouts or phone apps like MapMyRun and RunKeeper, having a record of your training helps track your progress as a runner. Plus, it can keep you motivated to continue pursuing your goals.

4. Get outside
The first few months of the year can be challenging for many runners, but running outdoors can be more motivating than running in place on a treadmill—not that there’s anything wrong with that either! Seek new routes and vary your terrain to keep things fun, interesting and challenging.

5. Find a friend
If you’re scared to start a running program or are worried about staying committed to it, find one or two close friends to join you in your new pursuit. In addition to the accountability of meeting someone else for a run, going on a journey is exciting and rewarding when you can share it with others.

6. Do more than just run
Do core strength work regularly and mix some cross-training into your workout routine by taking a spin class, going to boot camp or swimming. It will help lessen the likelihood of injury and make you a more well-rounded athlete.

7. Vary the pace and location of your runs
Only by running a variety of paces and types of runs will you see continued improvement in your fitness. And mixing up your runs between roads, trails and the track will keep you inspired.

8. Reward yourself
Whether it’s treating yourself to coffee and a treat after your workout or planning a vacation around a race, complement your running goals with something to look forward to in addition to your run.

9. Remember: It’s a process
It’s easy to get frustrated in the early stages of a running program. Every runner experiences highs and lows along the way. However, remind yourself to enjoy the process of discovering what you can do every time you lace up your running shoes.

Tips for Female Runners

Female runners should always know the safety measures while they exercise. She should always remember some smart habits while she runs so that she will have a fun and safe exercise outside. Some of these guidelines and tips may apply to all runners, but there are some important facts that are especially addressed to the needs of female runners. Here are some tips and safety precautions a female runner should always remember when running.

1. For female runners, they should know how to have a controlled and balance anaerobic training intervals and repetitive hill trainings that can enhance their strength and endurance. It will also help female runners to gain the same speed achieved by male runners. High-intensity anaerobic training is an effective stimulator for growth hormones in gaining more power and speed as a runner.

2. It is not recommended to use headphones while running. You will not hear cars, bikers, and people that may have bad intentions on you. Many attackers will always choose a victim who they think is vulnerable and not ready for any approaches. Always remember that it is unsafe to run with headphones.

3. Statistics show that heart disease is ten times more fatal than breast cancer for most women in the United States. One of the best things to do to prevent heart disease is to exercise. A woman who exercises regularly can have a normal blood pressure and a regular heartbeat. Every woman can do running as their exercise where they can have a balanced HDL cholesterol level and will help have a physically fit body.

4. Most women have smaller feet than men. When you are buying running shoes, your best choice should have designs specifically made for female runners. Always remember to buy the shoes that can provide you with the most running comfort.

5. Every female runner should always think that she is a competitive athlete. It is not important if you are not the best in the racetrack. You should realize that a runner should always have the determination and the motivation to be at her best while running.

6. Running can help you burn more excess calories than walking. Slow running can also help you to lose the unwanted weight you gain from the food that you eat. You can perform this kind of exercise everywhere and anytime you want. It is also inexpensive and enjoyable while in your quest for having a physically fit body.

7. Every female runner should always remember to take the necessary precautions while she is out for a jog. She should always inform everybody at home that she will be out with her running buddies. She may leave a note stating where she is going to jog and what time she will be back. She may bring her personal alarm or a stick for her self-defense in populated areas and unfamiliar routes.

8. For those women who are in their early stage of pregnancy, it is advisable to perform a lower level of exercise. Running pregnant can affect pregnancy hormones leading to the softening of tendons and ligaments. You may have the option to do other sport exercises such as walking, stationary cycling, and swimming as your substitute exercise to running.

9. It is advisable to use a sports bra when you are exercising. In this way, you can control breast motion and you may feel more comfortable while you are running. Try to fit the sports bra before you purchase it. It is important that it should support your breasts when you are in a cross training and on high intensity exercises that include fast running and high jumping.

10. You may join a group of female runners that regularly jog and exercise near your place. This will help you to be always motivated and will keep you away from harm. In addition, it is always fun to have a companion while you are running.

You do not have to be a competitive runner to join races. You will find lots of runners that do not necessarily run for competitions. They join for fun and social interaction to keep them motivated in the exercise. Involve yourself to running, it is a great way to exercise and the best and easiest way to interact and meet a lot of people.

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When many women get ready to go for a run, their prep looks something like this: Put on favorite running shorts, lace up shoes, pick a playlist, grab a weapon, head out the door.

You read that right. Headlines about women being attacked by men (or even animals) while out for a jog are a steady drumbeat in the news cycle; for women, running safety is often top of mind, and for many that means running with products that could help them stay safe in the event of being attacked while on a run.

In a Twitter thread posted earlier this week, women began sharing the things they take with them to help them feel safe when they run—everything from their dogs to a knife—and it’s getting a ton of attention on social media. “One of my mom groups has a thread that is just women listing and recommending which kind of protection they take when them when they go out running (i.e., pepper spray, alarm necklaces, whistles, etc.) in case you wondered what being a woman is like,” writer Amanda Deibert posted earlier this week before asking: “Also, women: What do you use when you go out running?”

The thread prompted a flood of responses from women that are infuriating and heartbreaking—women are carrying knives in the pockets of their running vests just to feel safe while out for a run. But their recommendations are also incredibly practical. “I won’t wear headphones so I can be more alert to my surroundings,” one woman wrote. “Would be nice to listen to music though.”

Here are some of the best running safety products for women recommended by women (and where you can get them).

Safety whistle

“The whistle I use is called the Whistles for LIFE Tri-Power Whistle,” one woman recommended. “I have yellow because I feel it’s more visible than red.”

Whistles for LIFE Tri-Power Whistle

REI $5 Buy Now

Self-defense claw

“I use two,” one woman shared. “One in each hand.”

Self-Defense Claw

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Self-defense key chain

“My daughter starts 6th grade in August and will need to use the school bus for the first time. The bus doesn’t come to our house, meaning she’ll need to walk and wait at the end of our road every morning,” one woman wrote. “She now has a cell phone, rape whistle, and one of these. She’s eleven.”

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Personal alarm

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Pepper spray glove

“I like that it’s really only a partial glove and that I don’t have to grip/hold the pepper spray the whole run,” one woman said. “I definitely feel safer running with it.”

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Medical kit

In the event that something does go wrong on a run or hike, several women mentioned carrying a few first aid supplies.

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I used to like to run by myself in the evening, away from the busy streets and bright lights. Then, one night I was followed by a group of men. Fortunately I made it home unscathed, but my appetite for solo jogs was spoiled after that. I guess it was the last straw. I was already exhausted by the aggressive male behavior I had to endure: catcalling, heckling and lewd propositioning.

These disturbing incidents were random, uncontrollable and at times terrifying. I’ve known so many women who can relate, and now I know even more after researching this article.

None of these women succumb to fear. They recognize that they can’t control what others do, that there’s no such thing as “asking for it”, and that you can take all the safety precautions in the world and still end up a victim. But they don’t give up what they love, an attitude that inspires me to get my sneakers back on and go for it, with some handy tips in mind.

Risk aversion is the key here — not risk elimination (which is impossible)

Part of what helps women runners stay confident is taking safety precautions. This doesn’t mean they’re guaranteeing their safety (that’s not possible), or that anyone who has been hurt or worse while running could have been spared had they taken more precautions (that’s victim-blaming).

What it does mean is that they’re having better, less stressful workouts by practicing risk-aversion.

“It is probably smart for women to have a certain level of risk aversion while they run because they are vulnerable targets to predators,” says Laura Dugan, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland. “With risk aversion, they can make decisions that will reduce their vulnerability and consequently allow them to enjoy their running.”

Here’s how to practice risk-aversion when running alone as a woman:

Run in populated areas in the day time

“Predators will only attack when nobody else is around,” says Dugan. “While it might be nice to run in the woods, perhaps can choose to run in a more popular park where others will be around. Also, women should avoid running at night.”

Lauren Crain, a woman runner, has a firm policy around this.

“If I’m running on a path, and I don’t see anyone else for more than five minutes, I never run on that path anymore,” she says. “I feel a lot safer when there are other runners or bikers around, and if I don’t see anyone for more than five minutes, I’ll usually turn around and go back.”

If you’re new to an area, and not sure where to run, Tina Willis, a personal injury attorney and avid distance runner for nearly 20 years, recommends asking neighbors and even dropping by your local police station to learn what trails local officers recommend.

Also, given her expertise in personal injury law, Willis stresses to not forget about another serious threat to all runners: drivers.

“I cannot overstate the importance of staying off road shoulders, especially really narrow or non-existent ones,” she says.

So, choose an area populated by people, not cars.

Ditch the earbuds

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“One important thing I have changed in my running routine is that unless I am around a lot of people or running on the boardwalk during the day, I no longer put headphones on,” says Christie Maruka, a fitness enthusiast who runs/speed walks daily. “Headphones playing music and I would zone out listening, and hear if someone is coming up behind me or at me. As much as I enjoy running to music it’s really not safe.”

Crain makes a compromise.

“When I go running, I wear my broken headphones,” she says. “The right earbud doesn’t work, so I can still be aware of my surroundings.”

At night, Crain ditches the earbuds altogether, feeling that the mere appearance of them make her appear like she’s not aware of her surroundings, “so I want to limit that view of me especially when it’s semi-dark outside.”

An antigravity treadmill helped me fix my running form

Jan. 12, 201803:41

Carry pepper spray only if you’re trained to use it

Maruka also keeps her keys in her hand as a ready weapon, while many other women (myself included when I’m walking the dogs alone at night) carry pepper spray or another weapon.

This may help you feel safer, but Dugar discourages women from carrying weapons “unless they are well trained on how to use them. This includes pepper spray and knives.”

Dugar’s reasoning is mainly that your weapons can actually be used against you by an attacker. Moreover, she points out, pepper spray expires, so if you are trained to use it, and confident doing so, make sure it’s not past date.

Susan MacTavish Best the founder and CEO of Living MacTavish, carries a large stone in one hand.

“I did this on the island of Port-Cros after I heard a wild boar,” says Best. I look at it both as a way for me to feel more confident and as a bonus, it my arm stronger.”

Let someone know where you are and use GPS tracking

“I always share my location when I go running,” says Crain. “I let my partner know where I’ll be, and share my location with him via Google.”

Jen McMahon, a certified integrative nutrition health coach, certified personal trainer and running coach, also makes a habit of letting people she trusts know when and where she’s running.

“Create a check-in system with a buddy so they know you made it home safely,” she suggests.

“Always carry your charged cell phone with you while running,” she adds. “There are new safety apps with GPS tracking that will dial the police or friend/family member for you if needed with just one click.”

Nail these self-defense maneuvers

“If you are ever attacked while running, use your powerful voice. Shout, yell, curse and do whatever you can to momentarily shock your attacker into changing their mind,” says Jennifer Cassetta, a clinical nutritionist, personal trainer and self defense expert who founded Stilettos and Self Defense.

If things get physical, Cassetta describes tactics you can use to take an attacker down:

  • If grabbed or pulled or attempted to to the ground, drop your center of gravity to help keep your balance. Get in a wider than normal stance so you won’t be knocked down easily.
  • Then acquire and fire: Acquire the most effective soft targets (on a male attacker) and fire away. Those three targets are: eyes, throat and groin.
  • Jab fingers into the eyes.
  • Punch straight to the throat to disrupt breathing.
  • Punch or knee the groin in hopes to loosen up a grab or hold on you.
  • Keep firing away until you have a moment to possibly escape. All the while, be sure to try and dodge or block any blows coming to your head and face.
  • If thrown to the ground, try to remember that the tools you have standing are the same ones you have on the ground and you can still fight back. Keep firing away with your hands, fists, and kick with your legs. You can use your hips to throw an attacker off of you.

Join/start a local running group that addresses your concerns

Some of us just really like to run at night, but as Dugar pointed out, women are vulnerable to predators, and they are most vulnerable at night when alone. Running in a group is the easiest way to handle this, but why not take it a step further by joining or forming a local movement that is determined to empower women and involve men through conversation and action.

You may be able to turn to your workplace to get things off the ground.

“My co-workers and I decided to start a movement, called Despite the Dark, where we shed light on the safety issues women face when they run, specifically at night,” says Rachel Colonna, a creative studio designer and a founding member of the Despite the Dark team, who found that women co-workers were feeling more afraid of running after recent events such as the murders of runners Wendy Martinez and Mollie Tibbets, respectively.

“Our biggest takeaway is that there is safety in numbers, which is why we are creating a community of runners to ensure a safe environment,” Colonna says. “Sadly, there is no way to be 100 percent safe all the time, but starting a conversation and a community is a way we have coped with the severity of these situations and started to find an answer.”

More tips and tricks for a better run

  • What you need to know before running outdoors
  • The right way to train for a marathon (from someone who learned the hard way)
  • How strength training can prevent running injuries
  • How one man lost 100 pounds with a simple walk-to-run routine
  • The best workout shoes for women, according to fitness experts

Want more tips like these? NBC News BETTER is obsessed with finding easier, healthier and smarter ways to live. Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Opt for a bun over a ponytail.

Aside from not running alone, staying inside the gym to use the treadmill and taking constant self-defense classes, it’s important to continue to find ways to keep yourself safe while running. In my opinion—and I’m not happy about it—there are three common denominators when people are attacked on the run: being alone, being female and running in an unpopulated area.

But I’m going to make a confession here: I still run alone, but only about half of the time and never in isolated areas or after dark. But I still run alone. I also drive a car even though 110 people are killed daily in car accidents. And I know for a fact that all of you do one or both of these things too. But I’m not going to stop running alone—but I will also take every precaution that I can. When you drive, you take precautions by wearing a seat belt, not being distracted, and, honestly, assuming everyone else on the road is stupid. In other words, you’re aware of my surroundings and drive defensively.

Here are some precautions to take to be safe—not just while running, but also in general.

  1. Always tell someone where you are going.
  2. Stay on well-traveled and well-lit roads. Don’t take shortcuts through woods, poorly lit areas, etc.
  3. If possible, run with a dog, a group or at least one other person.
  4. Ditch the headphones.
  5. Bring your phone.
  6. If someone looks shady to you, cross the street or go the other way.
  7. Vary your routes. Don’t be predictable.
  8. Know where you’re going. Looking confused and lost can make you a target.
  9. Don’t be distracted. Perpetrators specifically look for people who aren’t 100 percent aware of their surroundings.
  10. Run confidently, meaning tall and focused, to display confidence.
  11. Trust your gut. If something or someone doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

What are your additional safety tips for running alone, at night or at all? Tweet @WomensRunning!

11 Potentially Life-Saving Tips for Staying Safe While Running

In my last article, I mentioned there had been some recent attacks on women in my hometown. This got me thinking about general safety while out running. What can we do to prevent accidents and mishaps while we are hitting the streets?

Make Yourself Visible

If you have even the slightest bit of doubt and are wondering if people can see you, then they can’t. As winter approaches, it’s getting dark earlier and staying dark longer. So, invest in some reflective gear!

Along with reflective gear, wearing bright colored clothes keeps you visible.

Never Assume You Are Seen

Along these same lines, never assume that drivers can see you. Even as a runner myself, looking out for pedestrians while driving, I have almost clipped runners at intersections who assumed that I saw them. We’ve have always had the distractions of kids and the radio, but now with cell phones and our constant need to feel connected, drivers are more distracted than ever.

In my very unscientific survey of observing drivers while waiting to turn out of my workplace at the end of the day, seven of the eight drivers were actively using their cell phones. I’m not talking about chatting with hands-free devices, but cell phone in hand, looking at the screen, and typing away. That’s some scary stuff.

And it doesn’t matter if you’re in the crosswalk and have right of way. If a person hits you with a car, you can still be lying dead on the ground, no matter how “right” you were. As my dad always told me growing up, “Amy D, you can be right and you can be dead.” Always make eye contact with the driver and wait for them to motion you across.

Run Facing Traffic

One way to keep an eye on cars potentially turning into intersections you are crossing is to run facing traffic. By doing this, cars are more likely to take notice of you and you will be able to determine if someone is going to make a right turn in front of you while keeping your eyes front, instead of having to crane your neck around every time you are crossing a road.

Limit Your Own Distractions

Another way to stay aware of your surroundings is to limit your own distractions. I love running with headphones. There is nothing better than a little Black Eyed Peas to get me going or a podcast to occupy my mind. But if I am going to wear my headphones, I only use one ear bud (tucking the other safely into my sports bra strap) and I have the volume low enough that I can hear what’s going on around me.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen runners with headphones blasting decide to go around another runner or a stick in the road and step right in front of a bike or another runner. Your music should be low enough that you can hear your feet hitting the ground and you can hear your breathing. You should also be polite enough to look around before changing your course of direction.

Run With a Buddy

I prefer that everyone run with another human. That way if something happens, the buddy can get help or communicate with emergency services personnel. Your local running store can be a great resource for finding a buddy, so be sure to check out their group run schedules before ruling this option out.

If finding a buddy doesn’t pan out for you, then running with a dog is better than running alone. Granted the dog isn’t going to be able to tell someone you fell down the well (unless it’s Lassie), but dogs are great deterrents to bad guys approaching you.

If you absolutely do not have anyone to run with, tell your roommate, mom, or bestie that you’re leaving for a run and the approximate time you will be back. When you get home, touch base and let them know you’re back safe and sound.

Run with your pooch – It’s good for both of you.

Take Your Phone

Carry your phone with you on your run just in case something goes wonky. This doesn’t have to mean you were attacked or hit by a car or anything else overly serious. But if you’re five miles from home and twist your ankle or last night’s Mexican dinner kicks in, it’s nice to have an alternative route home.

Run During the Day

An easy way to reduce your risk of injury or being attacked is to run when it is light outside. Even aside from the idea of someone with ill intent approaching you, in the daylight you are less likely to trip and get injured and more likely to be seen by drivers. If your work schedule does not allow you to run in the day, it could be time to invest in a treadmill or gym membership. Or you can incorporate some HIIT training and strength sessions into your schedule and save the outdoor running for your days off.

We Have the Technology

My BFF’s husband likes to go on long bike rides. Before he leaves he turns a tracking device on his phone. This allows his wife to track him on their iPad. If he gets a flat tire or if that blinking dot doesn’t move for a while, she knows right where to go to help him. Just make sure you turn the tracking device off when the ride is over. Otherwise, that’s a little creepy.

There are also apps available that can help keep you safe. One of the ones my students use is bSafe. With a push of a button, this app acts as a siren, records video, alerts authorities, and tells them your GPS location.

Another great way to stay safe is with Road ID. These identification tags can give your running buddy or emergency services critical information (allergies, emergency contacts, etc.) in times that you are unable to communicate. If you can’t make this investment, carry some form of ID with you at all times.

Be Unpredictable

My next tip might make you feel a bit like a CIA operative – alter your route. Yes, there are definitely random, spur-of-the-moment attacks, but more often than not, the bad guy has been observing an area and looking for patterns. So, mix things up. Even if it’s just running your route backward, that could throw the timing off enough to deter the perpetrator.

Be a Bad Target

Be more proactive in keeping yourself safe by taking a self-defense course or carrying mace. Even if you never have to use the information you receive at the class, having that knowledge can make you feel more confident and in control. Basically, you’ll look less like an ideal victim for the bad people out there. If you do decide to carry mace, please make sure you know how to use it – and don’t spray it if you’re downwind.

Don’t Jog

And last, but not least, be a runner, not a jogger. I don’t care what your pace is, consider yourself a runner. It’s always the joggers that the folks on Law and Order find dead in the park.

What did I miss? What do you do to stay safe? Please post your ideas in the comments section below.

Photos 2 & 4 courtesy of .

Jogging at night safety

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