Staying Safe on the Run

Training outside is a great way to stay fit and motivated, but it’s important to consider your safety before venturing outdoors.

Check out our top tips for a safe training session, including information provided by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, the UK’s leading authority on personal safety:

Planning your training route

  • Try to avoid deserted areas and train in well lit, populated places. This is especially important if you’re training alone or in the dark.
  • Look for places along your route you could use as potential help points, like petrol stations or shops.
  • Try to avoid areas where people could easily conceal themselves, for example pathways surrounded by bushes.
  • Circular routes are safest because you don’t have to retrace your steps and head back towards areas where you may have felt threatened or uneasy.
  • If possible, test your route first by walking it or taking the car. It’s a good sign if other people are using the route already, so keep that in mind as you look around.
  • If possible, train with a friend or join a running group. They’ll be able to recommend tried and tested routes.
  • It’s a good idea to tell someone when you’re going out for a run, and give them details of your route and the time you expect to be back. If you arrange to let them know when you arrive home, they can raise the alarm if they don’t hear from you.

Training at night

  • Avoid wearing dark clothes when you train at night, particularly if you have to cross roads or take narrow paths as drivers might struggle to see you. Ideally you should wear high visibility clothing with reflective strips or a luminous running bib. At the very least, pulling a white T-shirt on over your running gear will help get you noticed.
  • A head torch will help you see and be seen, while keeping your hands free. They’re ideal for rural areas with less street lighting. Head torches are cheap to buy and you can get them from most sports and camping shops.

What to wear and take with you on a training session

  • Avoid wearing hooded tops or caps that could restrict your vision.
  • Be careful if you wear headphones because you’ll be distanced from your surroundings, and you might not be able to hear trouble approaching.
  • Take off expensive jewellery and watches before you leave home, or keep them out of sight. A secure pocket or bum bag is a handy way to store possessions while you train.
  • Take your mobile phone with you so you can call for help if you need to, or let people know if your plans change.
  • Take some cash or a charge card so you can get home if you’re unable to continue on foot.
  • Carry a personal safety alarm and keep it close to hand, for example clipped to your side. Make sure it’s at least 130 decibels loud – setting off a loud alarm will shock and disorientate an attacker, giving you time to get away.
  • If you’re not completely sure of your route, take a map with you.

How to avoid dangerous situations

  • Be aware of everything going on around you, particularly ahead of you. The earlier you spot danger, the more chance you have of avoiding it.
  • Trust your instincts. If a situation doesn’t look or feel right, get away as soon as you can.
  • It’s fine to push yourself while you’re training, but make sure you’ve always got enough energy left so you could get away in an emergency.
  • If you’re ill or injured while you’re out running, don’t try to carry on. Find a safe way home and don’t be tempted to use dangerous shortcuts, or accept a lift from someone you don’t know.
  • Try to vary your route and the time you go out so your movements don’t become too predictable.
  • If you’re running or walking near a road, always face the oncoming traffic and avoid getting close to parked cars with people in them.
  • If you’re running in a group, make sure nobody is left on their own at the back. If someone in the group can’t continue, make sure they get home safely.
  • If you’re running in a public area and you can see a way to make the surroundings safer, for example cutting back bushes or improving the street lighting, let the local council know and they might be able to fix it.

What to do if you feel threatened while you’re out training

  • Try not to panic. Control your breathing to relieve tension and help you think clearly about your next move.
  • If possible, head for the nearest public place to find people who can help you.
  • Verbal abuse can be insulting and upsetting but if you become a victim of it, try to ignore it and keep going.
  • Dogs can be a problem while you’re out training because it’s often difficult to tell if they’re a threat or not. Rather than run away from a dog, it’s best to stop and shout “No”, “Down” or “Sit”. Look for the owner and ask them to call their dog away.
  • If you’re threatened for your possessions, your personal safety should be your number-one priority. Possessions can be replaced, so give them up if it means you avoid getting hurt.
  • If you’re trapped, your voice is often your best defence. Make as much noise as possible and shout specific instructions like “Call the police” so people who hear you will know what to do.
  • Report any incidents to the police as soon as you can – it could prevent someone else becoming a victim next time.