Nine Tips to Improve Your Safety While Running

This was not a note I wanted to write or send, but sadly we live in a world where a female runner can’t go out for a run alone without putting their life in danger. Things have to change.

By now many of you would have heard the tragic news of Eliza Fletcher. A woman who went out for her usual pre-dawn run in Tennessee, but never made it home. It’s difficult to comprehend. To add to that, only just yesterday a woman was attacked while out on a walk on McAlpine Park Greenway, a popular running route for many, in broad-daylight. Thankfully, she was able to fend off the attacker and get to safety. Many of us do the exact thing every single day as Eliza did and make it home without an issue. This should be a given, but sadly it’s not. Nobody should ever run in fear or worry about not making it home.

I thought long before writing this as on the one side I don’t want to cause fear mongering, but on the other side, the issue can’t be ignored. Attacks while running are rare, but they shouldn’t be happening at all and while this can happen to anyone, the sad truth is, is that these attacks are far more likely to be on a female runner. It’s an issue that can’t be ignored. I don’t have the answers right now, I wish I did, it will take the work of a community to fix this, but I want you to know, I want to listen, I want to help, and I want is all to feel safe as we work to live healthier lives.

Below I’ve listed some suggestions that you might want to take to protect yourself and hopefully some comfort from knowing you’ve taken steps to make your run as safe as possible. It fills me with sadness to say that, because it is not you who should change your behavior in order to feel and be safe on a run, but until there are bigger changes, they may help.

Strava Privacy Controls

Most of us use some form of data tracking/recording app such as Strava and I’ll focus on this app since I’m familiar with it, but similar features at likely part of other apps too. Within these apps you can alter your privacy settings to better protect yourself.

Private Accounts

I recommend making your account ‘Private’ rather than public. A few years ago I made my account public because I wanted others’ to see what my training looked like (i.e see that you didn’t have to run fast on easy days to progress). I’ve now made my account private. I’ll happily accept people I have met or familiar with, but it is now one more thing to manage, but worth it in my eyes to make sure only trusted people know where I’m running and when I’m running. You also want to make sure flybys is turned off (a feature that let’s others see who they ran by during their run).

Hide a Specific Address

This a big one, especially if you keep your profile public. Your Strava map shows your start and end point, which is often your home or workplace. With Strava you can hide the start and end points of your run up to a 1mile radius. This makes it more difficult for strangers to find out where you live or work.

Hide All Maps

Another feature I recommend using. This completely shuts off the map feature so nobody can see where you have been running and the routes you usually take.

Strava Beacon

To be honest I’m not 100% familiar with Beacon, but it’s a safety feature on Strava that can also be used with your Garmin. Essentially, when activated during a run, it allows your designated safety contacts to receive texts with your real-time location along with past location on that run and when you started recording the run

Run in a Group

Easier said than done, I know, but when possible try to take this option. See if there are other runners in your area running similar days and/or paces. I’m happy to try and connect people when possible.

Inform someone of your route

Let someone you trust know what route you plan to take that day and how far you are going.

Defensive Weapons

I think this brings me the most sadness and hopefully it never gets to the point you have to use something to defend yourself. Pepper spray or a taser are options available to you. I found this device on Amazon for $50, which is a spray combined with a location tracker, siren, strobe light which might be useful for you.

Be Aware

Take note of your surroundings. Run in populated places when possible. Avoid locations that carry more risk. Avoid wearing headphones.

Again, I’m sorry these are the measures I’m recommending. I wish it was different. Please be safe out there.

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