How to Stay Safe When Running Alone

July 20, 2019

This summer, the tragic death of Mollie Tibbetts, a 20-year-old University of Iowa student who was followed and killed while she was out jogging alone, reminded us of the very real and scary risk women face when they go for a run solo.

How to Stay Safe When Running Alone

Sadly, a similar crime happened again this week, when 35-year-old Wendy Karina Martinez was stabbed to death while jogging by herself in Washington D.C. 

Of course, Tibbetts and Martinez aren’t to blame for what happened to them. Still, their tragic stories highlight how important it is for women who exercise outdoors on their own to take precautions.

We’ve rounded up the 6 best tips from experts below. Even if you think you’re cautious, read their advice for extra safety measures you can take that won’t interfere with your workout goals.

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Research before you go

Runners love to help other runners, says Elizabeth Corkum, founder of Coach Corky Runs and trainer at Mile High Run Club in New York City. 

That’s why they use websites like Strava and MapMyRun to share information on popular routes. Use these sites to find out where people typically run in your area to avoid turning down a dangerous street or alley.

You can also research the crime rate in the neighborhood. Sure you might realize you have to drive to find a safer area for your run…but your life is worth it. 

Stay in populated areas

It can be exhilarating to run on a pretty country road or in a city park without lots of traffic or crowds. But “I don’t want women to feel like they have to cower,” Corkum says.

By staying in well-lit areas that are dense with people, it’s more likely that if something unexpected were to happen, someone would be around to help, she advises. 

Keep the volume down

Music can make a run feel easier, but don’t get so caught up in Beyoncé’s beats that you lose track of your surroundings. “Keep one of your headphones in your ear and let the other one dangle,” suggests Dan Kruy, a martial artist and trainer at Chelsea Piers in Stamford, Connecticut, who teaches runner safety and self-defense classes for women. “That way, you’re more aware of what’s going on around you.”

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Light yourself up

Running in the dark? Wear something reflective. A flashing light or headlamp, like the Nathan Neutron Fire, can keep you visible and illuminate stumbling blocks, or a shadowy figure, in your path.

Notify others

Download a safety app like RunSafe (Google Play) or Glympse (free; iTunes and Google Play), and share your location with friends or family when you head out the door.

RunSafe even has a panic button you can trigger if you’re under attack or worried about your safety. Or go old school: All the running apparel from Graced By Grit comes with a free safety whistle that you can blow to attract attention when you need it.