Safety tips for ladies and men :)

On a weekday I run on the roads as its too dark for my trail. So this morning I was out early doing intervals. My usual route takes me along a ( very boring) main road. Lots of cars but I rarely see a soul. Today I was on my return and I saw a man in black ( no torch- not very well lit road). He ducked into a drive and I could see him hiding ( my head torch is v bright). I honestly thought he was going to jump or flash me and I was really scared ( obvs I sped up at that point ). It made me consider my safety. I have done a bit of research on this and I am sharing the best tips with you. I am also sharing a previous encounter that I had which freaked me out for ages.


1.Dont run with earphones- this prevents us from hearing a potential attacker behind us ( I am so guilty of this!!).

2. Alter your route- This tip is not only for those with crazy ex-boyfriends and girlfriends. When we run the same route, or the same two routes, day after day, it not only makes us easy targets for stalkers, we also have a tendency to zone out- and this makes you more alert.

3. Self defense classes....hummm I need to do this.

4. Run against the traffic ( if on main road)

5. Dont run alone ( easier said than done!) or run with a big doggy if you have one or can borrow one!! I am petrified of dogs so that's a no no for me. I have 3 chickens and 2 bunnies, I am not sure if they would be much help!!!

Have you any tips too??

Stay safe guys and keep your wits about you



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42 Replies

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  • Gosh, that's awful JJ. Glad you're okay.

    If I'm running somewhere a little sketchy, I'll go slower than normal to save some energy in case I want to run quickly by someone or something.

    I have my Garmin settings to my connections only - I don't need everyone knowing where and when I usually run.

    Tell someone where and when you're going, or use a run-tracking app that will text someone if you stop moving for more than a few minutes.

    It's always a good idea to have a sense of your surroundings, and if something happens, where would you run. When I'm running in the mountains my mind is constantly alert, and I'm scanning for elk, bears, and where I could go if I stumbled upon one.

  • Gosh, elk and bears! That's a whole different ball game! Makes my encounters with the local wildlife feel very tame! I do always let someone know where (roughly) I am going and how long I am likely to be though. πŸ™‚

  • good point about Garmin settings... and strava have something simillar... Elk and bear... wow that takes safety to a whole new arena!!!

  • Well, I have the dog... and I did feel a teensy bit more vulnerable those few times I had to run without her. She did once mark the card of a chap who was behaving rather strangely near the entrance to one of our local woods (I think it might even have been pre-running). I am not a fan of dogs barking but on that occasion I was glad. Because I have her, I also carry a whistle.

    I've only ever been a 'one earphone in' person (and of course we need one in to do the programme in the first place)

    What I am not so good at is letting anyone else know where I am - and I noticed that I did text my husband to say where I'd decided to run when I was without Google.

    One of the most important things to remember though is that incidents are very rare (and I grew up getting chapter and verse round the dinner table on all the bad stuff that happened round your way)

    If that chap wasn't just getting out of your way, then maybe a call to the police non-emergency line might be in order so there's a record. He may well have been up to no good even if it didn't involve you. Properly creepy, hope you're feeling OK now.

  • Thankyou, much better today and its comforting to know incidents are rare.....

  • I guess that living where i do, it's a small community,we all know each other in the main,but that doesn't decrease the potential risks. My anxieties go through the roof a lot so I prefer to use my headphones,that way for me it deters any unwanted attention (the exception being bumping into neighbours three times on my run yesterday!)

    Down on campus it's very different- I stick to where I know i will be safe,heard earlier today of some unfortunate indecent exposure incidents close to the north perimeter of campus so may for future visits,avoid it but here at home by and large,no issues.

  • That all sounds very sensible....

  • I always tell my other half which run I'm doing. I can always hear over my headphones as well. I love my music when I run. I always make sure I have a little in the tank in I need to spurt. I always have a phone on me and if I feel nervous I will take it out and put it to my ear and pretend, or if I really thought I needed it I would ring someone. I always have ICE in my contacts on my phone In Case of Emergency. This is a great topic to share ideas about as the more prepared we are the safer we will be. Sorry about your encounter Ju, hope it doesn't unnerve you too much Rfc x.

  • good idea re ICE, and I so love music too, and I keep one ear out in the woods!!!

  • Thanks for posting this. Generally men feel less vulnerable but what you have posted applies to everyone. where I run the lake is very open with no hiding places. On the canal I hardly see anyone at any time of day. On my early 6am run to work similarly I hardly see anyone. I must admit if I see someone just standing around it arouses my suspicions. On balance I feel less safe on my run to work through poorly lit recreation grounds near housing estates.

    But even so regardless of what degree we feel relaxed about our routes everyone should have a contingency or some sort of exit plan to get away from possible danger. But most of us are usually pre-occupied with our running gremlins to worry about our personal safety.

    Statistically evidence is that incidents are mostly Males against Females and Males. Females abusing or attacking Males is less likely.Think also we have to discount some of our own preconceptions about things including our preconceived attitudes about what reactions of males and females might be.

    Couple of weeks ago on early dark morning run up canal I deliberately slowed down to almost a walk because I saw what I thought anyway was a female up ahead and didn't want to make her jump or shock her as I ran past. She eventually exited off canal probably towards work and I carried on running. I wouldn't do same for a man in the dark I just run past them. If it is light I run past male or female. I later thought to myself that I could have made the man jump out of his skin. But I still treat them differently !!

    Incidentally the recreation grounds by housing estates that I run through have been plagued by gangs of girls doing muggings and creating mayhem!

    Obviously there is a lot that can be said on this subject. Glad you brought it up.

  • Good to get a male perspective and thats awful re girl gangs.... proper scary...

  • He could have been having a wee I suppose πŸ™‚ Lucky for you that you can hit the accelerator and zoom off

  • That is entirely plausible...

  • Sorry to hear you had a fright :(

    I feel conscious of running up behind someone, just because I could startle them if they hear me coming. Although I've never noticed anyone seeming too bothered so far :)

    Possibly posting photos on social media is a bad idea, but maybe also a good idea... I dunno, I rather like to do it...

    I like to tell my husband roughly how long I'll be, so he'll notice if I'm gone too long. Well, he might do... :)

    I tend to avoid out-of-the-way areas at quiet times of day, but I live in a city so it's pretty easy to find well-populated routes. When I go offroading I try to be alert, but I do sometimes wonder how sensible it is to go out there.

    I've got an image in my head of you running with your chickens and bunnies :) I keep out of the way of dogs when I'm running. I like dogs, but unfortunately saw one kill another recently, which made me think a lot. They're unpredictable, and I see too many of them running around loose here (massive bugbear!).

  • Thankyou :) Dogs terrify me as they often jump up at me in the woods..... That must have been really frightening for you to see that...

  • A timely reminder ju-ju- ..there was a BBC Breakfast feature on running alone the other morning... I just hope I run in places, no one sensible would follow... husband always knows where I am running to.. I have my phone with his number on speed dial and I wear my wrist alarm.. not sure who would hear it..but it could scare a marauder maybe!

    As GoogleMe says, thankfully incidents are rare..but it pays to be aware.

    Poor you... nasty and creepy! Good job you are a super speedy runner though :) x

  • Thankyou.... and I agree its so good that nasty things dont happen very often...

  • Sobering reading!

    I choose well lit not quiet residential areas to run in, in the dark.

    My poor dog is still recovering from cruciate ligament surgery, so running with me is not an option. (Mind you he would probably just lick any potential threat!!)

    On behalf of that female joepublic .... THANK YOU!

  • very sensible...... I hope your dog gets better very soon :)

  • Good advice there Juju, although I have to confess I break a few of those! When I first ran at night I was more concerned about safety but I think over time we can get a bit complacent. Always good to think about these things and I will definately take those tips on board. I remember your previous post - very scary.

  • me too... I didnt want to scare folk, hopefully just raise awareness :)

  • Sorry to hear that. It's difficult isn't it? I have a couple of lovely routes but one in particular there is hardly ever anyone else around and nowhere to run for help - on both I often wonder how wise it is but the alternative is traffic filled roads which I don't enjoy. It's fine until something happens. I live on my own so no-one knows when I go out. Have been thinking about leaving maps on the kitchen table of where I usually run. Both your incidents have been on the roads tho'. Probably should get a wrist alarm tho', even if there would be no-one to hear it. Hope it hasn't shaken you too much.

  • It makes you think, doesn't it? Munich, where I live, is one of the safest cities in the world and I've never felt threatened here (I was at Leeds University when the Yorkshire Ripper was on the rampage - that did feel threatening), but we still get the odd rape and murder. I think growing up in Britain, walking around London on my own in the dark to get to my boyfriends place and my experiences at Leeds have made me more aware of danger than your average Munich citizen, but you do get complacent. I don't run in the park when it's dark, can always hear what's going on round me, and run in a quiet residential area in the winter. At 6am I usually only see the odd dog walker and one other fellow jogger, so if anyone else is around I'm always wary. But it's a good subject and I don't know if I'd have the strength to fight anyone off or speed off into the distance. Hope you're OK and it doesn't spoil your next run.

  • It sounds like a lovely place to live....

  • It is - I am so lucky! We live on the northern edge of town, with fields, lakes and forests all within about 20 mins walking distance and a tube station 10 mins walk away to whisk us into town in 15 mins. Mountains an hours drive to the south. It really has everything! But I only really appreciate it when someone makes a comment like yours!

  • Thank you for posting about this, as a newbie to C25K and someone who at the moment is going out on their own, it's a subject I have started to think about. The suggestions above are all very helpful. I tend to tell my hubby when I'm going and roughly how long I'll be. I always have my phone on me too.

    I was thinking that maybe I should get some kind of alarm or whistle in case I need to gain attention or frighten someone off.

    Love the thought of your chickens accompanying you on your runs :D

  • Chicken run!!!!!

  • Good post, but alarming too! What a nasty encounter for you ju-ju- :(

    I also run early, but I live on a really busy road, it's like the motorway for runners round here. Any time of the day or night they will be out, along with dog walkers, paper boys and girls, etc etc. I lost count of how many I saw out this morning, along with drivers leaving home for work. There is only one darkish road I go down, but it is very populated so I do feel safe..well as much as you can do I guess. I also know quite a few people on my route so I could always go to their houses if I felt worried or threatened. I also change my route periodically as it's boring if you don't!

    Most of my family aren't up when I leave and I don't have the kind of phone that can do apps. I should get better about telling my husband where I'm going, this has reminded me of that, even if it's scrawling a map on a piece of scrap paper!

    I also am a 'one ear in' runner. I need the music but I also need to hear for cars when I'm crossing side roads. And I have my garmin set to me only and don't share on fb about my runs ever.

    I live in the hope that all will be well, and for the most part things are. Like someone else said, incidents are rare but it is good to stay aware.

    Stay safe everyone :)

  • Wow I definitely break most of these guidelines, but in saying that it is not often that I jog in the dark. Also I have a big scary (looking) rottweiler who runs with me. She is the friendliest dog I have ever owned, but people dont know that, and sometimes people noticeably avoid her. Which is fine with me, and it does make me feel a bit safer. She can bark on command too, which is helpful. And when I first started I didnt even take my phone with me, but then I invested in a flipbelt, so now I take my phone, but usually have both ears in.....

    All in I do actually feel pretty safe running in my town. It has a pretty bad reputation, but I think being relatively small, the bad incidents that happen do get blown out of proportion.

  • I have also had a situation similar to joepublic where I have found myself running towards a single female walker in the dusk or dark. Now I'm 6'4" and perhaps can appear larger than life and a bit scary when I run towards anyone puffing and panting. So I also try to change route or stop for a bit to avoid scarring anyone accidently... I'm a pussy cat really :-)

  • Thats so thoughtful.... lovely that the blokes here really consider these things :)

  • Isn't it? I hadn't thought of men having to think that through. Good for you AndyD and joepublic . x

  • I never take my phone. I know I should but I hate stuff! Having just fallen and mashed my features I might rethink this one. It was a fellow runner with a phone who summoned a lift home for me.

  • gosh yes, how are you???

  • Yes, that's a good point, just for normal rubbish that can happen (that was certainly nasty enough to make you very wobbly) rather than crime.

  • Round our way two young men in the space of 12 months have been killed by being in the carriageway in the dark (and nearly scuppered the A levels/university place of the young woman who was unfortunate enough to hit one of them) In both cases, it would seem they were wobbly through alcohol (so not exactly heading off on a run) A couple of weeks later someone fell into the carriageway in front of me - heavy rain but morning. I was so glad that one of the other incidents has made me super cautious about speed limits as I was able to stop in time. It has certainly made my son less gung-ho about walking home in the middle of the night.

  • I must admit it's reasons like this which make me too scared to run in public (new year's resolution though!), but then again I've basically had paranoia drummed into me by my parents from a very early age.

  • Gosh I would hate to put anyone off running, and I have been running for over 3 years now and in some really wild places ( woods, middle of nowhere etc) and I have only had 2 'near incidents'. It is no different to being out walking, same precautions AND its quicker.... please dont be put off.... :)

  • At the moment I've been running on a borrowed treadmill, the excuse being that it's winter, and currently snowing, but I'm hoping to try my first parkrun soon!

  • Interesting thread. Thanks ju-ju- .

    If there's anyone at home when I head out for a run, I do tell them where I'm going and how long I might be, but whether they are listening or not is another matter... I doubt it very much.

    It hasn't really occurred to me to worry about creepy or scary people. That might be because I work in a prison though so if I was to worry about potentially dangerous individuals I possibly wouldn't go to work. :)

    Woe betide anyone who takes me on this week, mind you, as I've just had my refresher self-defence training!

    On the positive side, folks, because we're now runners we have a much better chance of getting away than we would have done pre-C25k. Only the fittest bad guys/gals can catch us. ;)

  • Much better Ju Ju thanks. Just my teeth that are the problem. Still on soft food but hope to be running next week if my teeth stop feeling like they belong to someone else.

  • I don't think this got mentioned, but its a good idea to keep a bit of cash on you a Β£5 or Β£10, allows you by something in an emergency if needs must. I am sure it could be handy for personal safety, taxi/bus home or find refuge in a shop or pub (could buy a stiff drink to calm the nerves)

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