Running Scared: 5 tips to keep you safe

Running SafetyMonday morning I was out for a short recovery run after 16 miles on Sunday and around mile 2.7 a homeless man started yelling at me. I was on a part of road where I had to go straight or turn back (no side streets to take) and he was about 150 feet in front of me. His words were extremely threatening and aggressive, and the following thought process happened:

Can I outrun him?

When I turn by him my house is on that road and I don't want him to see where I live, where else should I go? What is open at 7:30 a.m.?

If he starts to run toward me do I try to run away, or do I have something on me to fight him off with?

I ended up turning onto my street, and he came down my way a little bit and was still yelling (which I appreciated since it let me know where he was without turning around and looking!) I ran off onto a side street and immediately called the police's non-emergency line. Thankfully nothing more serious happened, but it certainly got me thinking about how safe I am when I go out for runs.

Last October I wrote an article on running safety tips after one of the women in my marathon training group was hit by a car on her run. This incident on my run Monday has inspired me to re-share some of those tips, and add a few new ones.

1. Run against traffic. It amazes me how many people I see running with traffic. The rule of the road is run against it, and it helps you keep an eye on oncoming cars better.

2. Don't use headphones. I know this wont be a popular opinion, but I really don't give a shit about being popular. Running without headphones allows me to hear cars coming around a corner before I see them, and I can hear if someone is coming up behind me. These are two pretty important things you need to be able to do to stay safe while running.

3. Carry your phone and some form of ID. I take my phone on every single run. When I first got my garmin I thought it would be nice not having my iPhone on my arm anymore (since I used to use RunKeeper) but I don't feel safe without having my phone on me. I've tripped and banged myself up pretty badly, and almost had to call someone to come get me. It's also handy if you have some creeper harassing you so you can call the police (btw - find out your local police departments non-emergency line and put it in your phone NOW.)

4. Know the names of the streets you often run on. When I called the police and they asked me where the man was my mind went completely blank. I rattled off what I thought were the two streets that intersected where it happened but they called me back a minute later to say those streets don't intersect! If you are injured, or need emergency assistance for any reason, you likely won't be thinking clearly and you need to know where to tell people to find you.

5. Vary up your route and the time you run. I've had people in the neighborhood comment on how they always see me on certain days/times, and I know they don't mean anything by it, but some people may see my pattern of behavior as an opportunity. Don't let them get that opportunity.

Finally - if you run at night always wear a light, if you really feel unsafe consider running with pepper spray, and if something doesn't feel right listen to your gut!

Have any other safety tips to add? Have you ever had anything happen to you on a run?