Every November, the running community comes together to celebrate National Running Safety Month. The purpose? To remind each and every one of us that “safety first” should be something more than just a lesson for the younger generation… it matters for everyone! And this year, perhaps more than others, National Running Safety Month is about not only watching out for yourself, but watching out for other runners. With stories in the news about runners facing harassment, violence and more, it’s hard to not take pause when lacing up your sneakers.

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But the beauty of the running community is we are just that, a community. We’re a group of people who love every moment on the road or the trail. We run no matter what, whether it’s rainy, sunny, snowy, sleety, or somewhere in between. We run through the pain and rough spots to come out on the other side sweaty and smiling. We’re here for each other, and sometimes that comes in the form of just reminding each other that the best thing to do is to just keep running, in the safest way possible.

So this National Running Safety Month, we decided that what we can do is to provide a little information, even if it’s a little redundant for some. We gathered a few of our favorite helpful tips for staying safe while you run, and watching out for the rest of the runners out there.

  1. Know Your Route: This doesn’t mean you have to run the same route every time (where’s the fun in that?!), or stay away from exploring new places, it just means to check your route for safety. How? Check sites like Strava, MapMyRun and others, to see how often it’s traversed, and if anyone has left any comments about safety, how strenuous it is, elevation gain, and whether you need extra gear to conquer it.
  2. Wear Safety Clothing: Aka, dress for the run! That means wear the right clothes for the weather, invest in reflective clothes and/or a headlamp (thanks a lot, daylight savings time!), and make sure you’re wearing gear that makes you comfortable. Not being prepared for the weather or having a gear malfunction can leave you uncomfortable and possibly injured, so a little planning can have big results. And don’t forget about those great blinking gadgets you can get to alert others to your presence! While a car may miss your slick reflective stripes on your outfit, it’s hard to miss something blinking and moving at the same time.
  3. Understand Traffic Rules: Simple, right? Run on the opposite side of the road, check both ways before you cross, all the things you learned in kindergarten. But what about right of way? This isn’t just for cars, where you should have the right of way, but you should always watch out for cars not paying attention, it has to do with bikes too! In general, bikers are supposed to yield to runners (on the road or the trail!), but since they’re often moving much faster than us, it’s often easier to yield to them. Essentially, you just have to remember to pay attention and be courteous.
  4. Check On Other Runners: Is that fellow runner doing okay? Do they look like they’re struggling, have gotten hurt, or may be dealing with some sort of harassment? We know, it’s hard to stop and check on someone when you’re working toward a goal. But a quick “you okay?” could help a fellow runner out. Plus, you may need one of those moments one day, so it’s nice to pay it forward. Why not expand the network of runners taking care of runners?
  5. Stay Alert and Prepared: There’s nothing better than sinking into your breath and leaning into the feeling of your body pushing you forward, but that isn’t always the safest option. It’s important to stay alert on the road and the trail, where you will likely encounter obstacles of many types (other runners, bumpy roads, tree roots across a trail, you name it). But it’s also important because sometimes there are some not-so-nice people out there. It’s an unfortunate fact in today’s world, but all we can do is be prepared. Carry your cell-phone, have one of those ear-piercing noise makers at hand, buy a cat-shaped keychain that makes your hand into a weapon, buy pepper spray, whatever it is that makes you feel comfortable. Have a plan for how to deal with the good, the bad and the ugly that may come with a run, no matter the reason. The key is for all of this, it has to work for you. And we hope that whatever works for you, staying home isn’t on the list. While the world is a crazy place at times, we hope it doesn’t keep you from lacing up your shoes.
  6. Trust Yourself: Your instincts are a powerful thing. If you feel good, go for it! If you have a hesitation about running your route and your gut agrees, you’re probably right. All you can do is listen to your gut and do what your heart (and body) tell you to. So get out there and keep running, and spread the word!