Here's How To Be Safer While Running Alone

Running daily has a number of great benefits for the body, including relieving stress, helping one sleep, and strengthening joints, reports Women's Health magazine. It's an irrefutably excellent source of exercise if you do it correctly, but it's important to be as safe as possible, especially when running alone.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, common advice would be to run in pairs or groups — there's safety in numbers, but to reduce the spread of COVID-19, runners have been encouraged to social distance or jog solo instead. Even when running alone, there are myriad practices you can embrace to help stay as safe as possible. According to NBC News, precautions include running during the daytime in populated areas, not using headphones in order to more easily stay alert to your surroundings, and carrying pepper spray (but only if properly trained on using it because accidental misuse could backfire.) Runner's World suggests enabling GPS tracking on your phone via "apps such as AllTrails Lifeline, RoadID, or Run Buddy to notify contacts of [your] whereabouts and add an extra layer of security."

If you are confronted while running, NBC News suggests an assortment of self-defense maneuvers, including punching the harasser's throat to inpair their breathing, jabbing fingers into the attacker's eyes to stun them, and punching and/or kneeing the harasser's groin area to temporarily dibilitate them while you get away. 

But fear of unwanted attention from another person isn't the only concern solo runners face. Keep reading for more tips to stay safe while jogging.

Running during the coronavirus pandemic

The ongoing global coronavirus pandemic has made running more challenging, but there are ways to help reduce the risk of getting sick. Standard procedures such as washing one's hands and disinfecting surfaces should always be practiced before, during, and after running. As for masks, Runner's World reports that "if you're running solo in an area where you won't encounter others, it's likely not necessary. But, if you're running in a crowded area, it's a precaution you want to take" to protect yourself and others. From a security perspective, if you feel it's important to run with someone else, the magazine recommends doing so with someone from your household, if possible, to reduce the risk of spreading germs to those outside your immediate circle.

But viruses aren't the only concern when running alone. What about potentially dangerous animal life? "In most cases, you should stop running and avoid turning your back on the animal, so the animal doesn't see you as prey and chase you down," Runner's World reports. For dogs, experts recommend speaking to it but not making eye contact, and if the canine charges, try "dropping a piece of gear such as a jacket or a bottle between you and the dog to distract the animal and lure it to bite the item instead of you." 

The Runner's World Runners Alliance program also has a comprehensive tool kit that women and girls can utilize for more tips on creating safe running routes, handling harassment, and more.