Runner Safety Tips

Hey running friends!

I’m sure I’m not alone in recognizing the love, appreciation and respect this community has for one another. We share laughter, adventure and stories across many miles of road, trails and track as a family. While a fair number of these miles are run in groups, we all have our lives to balance which inevitably leads to many solo miles to round out our individual training schedules. It’s always exciting to discover new routes nearby or explore new cities while traveling. It helps with motivation, keeps the stoke levels high and offers the potential of new challenges in distance, elevation or terrain.

With solo miles comes the acknowledgement that, as runners, we might randomly face risk in the form of trips and falls, automobile and traffic events, animal encounters and the rare instance of fellow humans that wish to do us harm. In the spirit of keeping everyone in our run family healthy and safe doing what we love, I put together some running safety tips and best practices along with some resources that you might find useful. Of course, this post doesn’t cover everything, but having an open discussion with anyone in the club can offer suggestion and new insight in staying safe based on a wide range of individual experience.

Stay safe and aware out there!
- Michael



Staying Safe While Running Alone

  • Stay alert, focused, and aware
  • Vary your route daily
    • Share your route with a friend or family before you run.
    • If you use Strava, be thoughtful about what you post online about your routes. Check the privacy controls and consider who can view your runs and whether you want to obscure your run start and end points (map visibility) or hide your routes entirely from people who you don’t know.
  • Bring your phone
    • Know your phone’s safety features (some details are below).
    • If someone is harassing you and you can access your smartphone safely, use your phone to capture video of the incident. It could end the interaction and be shared with law enforcement to protect others.
    • You can also pretend you are talking on your phone or about to meet someone should you be in an uncomfortable situation.
    • If you listen to music, keep it at a low volume, or keep one ear free so you can still hear things around you. Give Shokz bone conduction headphones a try.
  • Carry an alarm or whistle
    • Simple alarms are extremely easy to carry and come in many shapes and sizes.
    • Alarms can produce a 120dB siren audible up to 1,200 ft can and help attract attention and deter attackers.
  • Carry mace/pepper spray
    • Gel mace may be the best choice
    • Gel travels up to 20% further; more distance between you and your attacker.
    • Safer in windy conditions; affects only what it comes in contact with (does not atomize).
  • Consider getting a RoadID 
    • Include your name, contacts and key medical information.
    • Can be placed on your watch or wrist.

iPhone Safety Features

  • iPhone Emergency SOS Feature
    • Your iPhone can help people or police track you via its GPS.
    • If you press and hold the side power button and one of the volume buttons, the Emergency SOS slider appears. Drag the Emergency SOS slider to call emergency services. It will use Location Services on your phone to pinpoint your location.
    • If you continue to hold down the side button and volume button, instead of dragging the slider, a countdown begins and an alert will sound (you may need to enable this in your phone settings).
    • Additionally, you can initiate an emergency call with 5-presses of the power button (you may need to enable this in your phone settings).
  • Emergency Contacts
    • You can add Emergency Contacts in the Health app on iPhones
    • In the event you experience an emergency, others can view your emergency contacts on your phone without unlocking it and can also see your important health information (like allergies) if you choose to add them in the Health app. This is also helpful to have if you ever lose your phone.
  • *If you are not an iPhone user, there are similar features available on Android and Google phones, but you may need to research your particular phone model for details on how to set up these features.

Strava Safety Features

  • Beacon
    • Strava’s Beacon feature allows you to add up to three safety contacts so they can see your location during your run if you record your run with the mobile app.
    • If it’s your first time using Beacon, you will need to enable location services under the Record section of the app and add your emergency contacts from your phone contacts before you get started.
    • If you pay for Strava, you can toggle to connect the Beacon feature to your Garmin so you don’t have to start both your Garmin GPS watch and Strava.
      • Very important: You need to carry your phone with you for the Beacon tracking feature to work if tracking on your Garmin. Beacon requires a cellular connection, but if you have an Apple Watch with cellular connectivity, you can use Beacon without carrying your phone.
    • When you’re ready to start your run, go to Record in the Strava app and press the orange button for Send Beacon Text which will send a link to your location to your Strava emergency contacts.
  • Privacy Controls
    • In your Strava settings, you can adjust privacy controls over visibility to your running routes at whatever level you want:
      • Adjust your settings so that only your Followers can see your activities
      • Hide the start and end points of activities that happen at a specific address or hide your start/end points from all runs
      • Hide your activity maps from others completely

Garmin Safety Features

  • Incident Detection
    • Newer Garmin watches offer incident detection if something strange happens to your data such as heart rate, sudden stops and possible impacts (crashes or hard falls). If you are unable to respond to the beeping SOS alarm, safety contacts will automatically be notified so they can potentially dial 911 if needed and summons emergency help.
      • These models all have this feature:
        • Vívoactive 3 Music
        • Fēnix 5 Plus Series
        • Fēnix 6 Series
        • Forerunner 645 Music
        • Forerunner 945 LTE offers protection without carrying a cell phone

Coros Safety Features

  • Location sharing is available on Coros watches (similar to Garmin watches) and requires pairing with a smartphone application like Strava (mentioned above).

Animal Encounters

Animals are cute (except when they seem to want to attack you). Here is a list of things to consider when having encounters with a variety of animals:

  • Coyote
    • If it sees you, make eye contact. Yell. Wave your arms. Clap your hands. If it doesn’t go away, throw something at it and leave calmly.
  • Snake
    • Give it a wide berth and slowly back away.
  • Moose
    • Run away, hide, or climb a tree. Moose attacks are more common than bear attacks and they are especially aggressive in the spring.
  • Wolf
    • Make yourself as big as possible. Do not make eye contact. Back away slowly.
  • Bear
    • If it doesn’t see you, back away slowly or sideways slowly. Do not run. If the bear follows you, hold your ground and make yourself look as big as possible. They typically lose interest quickly. Some may bluff charge. Try to remain calm and talk to it. If you have bear spray, use it if it approaches you and yell loudly.
  • Mountain Lion
    • Back away slowly. Do not run. Stay facing the animal.

Other Safety Resources and Products

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