Safety Tips for Running Alone

Running by yourself can be many things—freeing, a time to think, a healthy way to blow off steam, lonely, fun, unsettling, or even scary, sometimes all at once. But many runners find that when they employ helpful planning and other safety strategies, running alone can become an empowering, joyful refuge, as well as a great form of exercise.

Of course, when running by yourself, safety and feeling comfortable come first, but there's so much more to becoming a devotee of the solo run. Below, we give you the lowdown on taking prudent precautions to stay safe, and generally, how to rock running by yourself.

1

Trust Your Instincts

Confident woman safely running alone outside
Maskot / Getty Images

While running alone is generally safe, it is not without risk—nor are you alone in your concerns. Women, especially, express legitimate concerns about running alone. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Runner's World, 43% of women report being harassed, 30% have been followed, 18% have been sexually propositioned, and 3% report being physically assaulted while running alone.

Far fewer men reported these instances or concerns, but people of all genders, races, and backgrounds can be subjected to these experiences. So, worries about running alone are well-founded.

Luckily, most of these interactions, while unsettling and potentially traumatizing in their own way, are not violent and the frequency of assaults is on the decline nationwide. According to the Department of Justice, between 2005 to 2010, the rate of nonfatal violent victimization by a stranger for women was close to 5 in 1000. This rate declined from a height of almost 20 per 1000 in 1993.

Still, despite declining rates, the reality is that it's vital to take precautions. Protect yourself by prioritizing your safety—balance brave and polite with safe and following your gut. If you sense danger, trust your instincts and err on the side of caution.

Trusting your instincts is perhaps the most important guideline for keeping safe while running alone. Don't worry about being wrong. If you ever feel unsafe or uncomfortable, act to protect yourself. This may include turning around, going another way, crossing a street, calling for help, screaming, or running away.

2

Let Someone Know Your Route

Before you head out for your run, make sure you let someone else know where you're running and your intended route. Also, tell them approximately how long you'll be running. Check in with them once you return safely.

If you bring along your phone or another trackable device, you can let them follow along as you run as well.

3

Stick to Well-Traveled Routes

Running by yourself is not the time to try out a new, unfamiliar running route. Stick to your tried-and-true running spots so you don't have to worry about getting lost or running into an unsafe and/or unfamiliar situation.

Choose a safe, well-lit route, where you know they'll be lots of people around. Also, when possible, vary the time of day and route that you run.

4

Carry ID and/or Your Phone

Put your driver's license and your medical insurance card in your pocket or wear an ID tag on your shoe (in case you get injured). If you're wearing an ID tag or bracelet, make sure it has an emergency contact number on it.

Whenever possible, try to run with your cell phone, and save your ICE (In Case of Emergency) numbers. In lieu of carrying your phone, bring a noise-making device, such as a whistle.

Bringing your phone on your solo run gives you better access to help, if needed.

5

Be Visible

It's easy to miss a single runner on the road, so make sure you're visible. Run in daylight, when possible. If you're running in the early morning or at night or even at dusk, dress in light, bright, and/or reflective clothing. Choose colors like white, yellow, orange, or neon green or blue.

Although some items (such as running shoes and jackets) may already have reflective pieces on them, it doesn't hurt to add more. Some runners also run with a small flashlight to make sure they're seen by oncoming traffic.

Additionally, choose well-lit routes, where you can be seen by others. Don't go down secluded paths or dark streets, and run against traffic for added visibility from drivers.

6

Listen

In addition to keeping your eyes on the road (and looking around for any signs of danger), be sure that you can hear what's going on around you. You'll want to listen to your surroundings to monitor the traffic, people, and animals along your path.

To this end, avoid wearing headphones. If you choose to listen to music, set the volume to low and/or only listen in one ear.

7

Run With Your Pet

You may want the convenience and solitude of running alone but don't let that stop you from recruiting a furry friend to tag along. Running with your dog provides security, companionship, and an extra deterrent to people who might consider bothering you. If you don't have a pup, you could borrow a friend or neighbor's pet to bring along with you.

8

Take Self-Defense

Consider taking a self-defense class. You will learn skills to protect yourself, study general safety principles, and boost your confidence and comfort-level for running alone.

A Word From Verywell

Running alone should be a time to enjoy challenging yourself and being on your own—not stressing over safety. So, take all the necessary precautions to lower your risk of something negative happening (from getting lost to harassment or assault), then focus on putting one foot in front of the other—and claim your place on the road.

But if running alone still doesn't feel safe to you, particularly if optimal routes aren't accessible, trust your gut and consider finding a running partner or group. Don't let safety concerns keep you from running the open road.

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Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Hamilton M. Running While Female. Runner's World. Published August 8, 2017.

  2. Violent Victimization Committed by Strangers, 1993-2010. U.S. Department of Justice. Published December 2012.