Running is something I love to do. I love running with friends but I also love those solo runs where I can escape into my thoughts, get lost in music, or catch up on a podcast or two. However, sometimes all these distractions while running can be a bad thing and not just because it draws your attention from running. No, sometimes it’s bad because it draws focus from our surroundings.

In the last two weeks, my town has become a hotbed of crime. And not just petty crime, but a murder, a shooting/robbery, and a rape. And two of these happened in areas I commonly run. This is not good times! My husband always reminds me to not get caught up with all the news coverage/hype and instead to be smart out there. He’s right, so what does being a smart and safe runner mean? After some serious thinking and some helpful ideas from other SFM ambassadors, here are some suggestions for becoming a safer runner:

The Buddy System: when running in the dark (early morning or night), run with a buddy or two. We all have those runs we like to run solo, but save those for daytime runs when you are in areas with lots of people around. When you get those early/late runs in, find a friend.

Bring ID: If you’re by yourself (or even with friends) have some form of ID with you. I wear a RoadID bracelet which includes my info, medicines I’m allergic to, and emergency contact. It doesn’t matter what your form of ID is just have something with you.

Bring Your Cell Phone: I know, I know our phones don’t fit in any of our running gear (I hate that too!). But if you are running by yourself, it’s the best idea to have your phone with you. I admit, this is something I am trying to get better at doing too… so let’s work together on this one!

Be Seen: If you are running in the dark or on the road, wear a headlamp and reflective gear. Drivers don’t pay attention! And we’re in luck, neon colors are coming back in running clothes, so you’ll be super trendy too! And when you’re running on the road, run against traffic. This is the correct place to be, that way you can see the car coming toward you! It might annoy the cars and cyclists but this is where runners and pedestrians are supposed to be. Never assume drivers see you but do your best to wear gear that makes you seen.

Tell Someone: Ok, I’m bad at this but it’s a good idea and one I’m going to try to do more regularly. When heading out for a run, tell your roommate/spouse/partner/parent where you’re going and how long you expect to be gone. My friend even calls her mom to tell her when she’s heading out for a run when her husband is out of town. If something does happen, then someone will know that they need to look for you.

Be Aware: It’s easy to get in the groove of things and not pay attention to your surroundings. One time, years ago, another runner stopped me to tell me a creepy truck was following me! And I hadn’t even noticed! Scary! If you see someone that seems shady, find a way to be around people, not by yourself. If you hear of crimes happening in a certain area, don’t run there alone. Pay attention to those sketches of criminals, keep an eye out.

I hate that we live in a world where people do such awful things to each other. I want to head out on my training runs and have fun and focus on the training – not watch out for would be attackers. But this the world we live in, so we need to make adjustments and be safe.

What do you do to ensure your safety while running?