Report to the Police – Report any threatening behavior to the police. If you feel threatened, bothered, or harassed in any way, call 911 and report the incident to the police. You never know if even a small tip will lead the authorities to locating a predator.
Bring a Phone – If running alone, especially in the dark, bring your phone so that you have the ability to call 911. Make sure the device is charged. Carrying mace or a whistle could also save your life.
Head for Safety – If your gut tells you something is not right with a person/animal close by, it is probably correct. In the event that that you feel threatened, head for the nearest safe space; such as another person, a store, a house, or a crowded intersection. Make noise and be clear about your needs.
Avoid Headphones – Headphones are dangerous because they block out all local sounds (i.e. cars, people, animals, emergency vehicles). Resist the urge to wear headphones while doing any running/walking unless it is in a gym or on a treadmill. If you must wear headphones, wear them in only one ear and with the volume lower.
Run/Walk Facing Traffic – When occupying the road, you are just like a pedestrian. You should run or walk facing traffic and off the street, when possible. Be careful of traffic pulling out from side streets and driveways, as drivers rarely look right when pulling into the first lane of traffic. Make eye contact with both drivers and other pedestrians you pass – a predator may be less likely to attack if you have made eye contact with them.
Follow the Rules of the Path – When running on a multi-use path, follow the rules established for that path. As a runner/walker, you are probably the most nimble, so keep an eye for bikes and those who cannot move as quickly. Always be respectful of the needs of others. And speaking of being respectful, never litter your fueling trash.
Cross at Crosswalks – You have the right of way when you are in a crosswalk, but many drivers are watching automobile traffic and not pedestrians.
Be Bright When It’s Not – Wear white or reflective clothing so that drivers, cyclists, and others can see you. Running specialty shops sell reflective armbands and blinking lights that are effective for being seen at night or in the early morning hours.
Be Aware – Check your surroundings while running. Use your peripheral vision and your ears to know what is going on in the area within 30 to 50 feet of you; this includes behind you.
Vary Your Routes – Avoid the habit of being at the same place on your run at the same time in any given week. Change the time you run and the course you follow weekly. A predator could be tracking you, so you must keep your running habits variable. Consider reversing your route or even adding a different loop.
Recruit a Running/Walking Partner – In addition to there being safety in numbers, having a running buddy will help you to stay focused on your goals and will provide support for your running/walking endeavors. Accountability is an amazing thing.
Let Your Dog Tag Along – Running is also great exercise for your true best friend and could make a predator now the prey. Don’t forget to follow your local ordinances regarding leashes. On the same token, whether you’re running with or without a dog, be aware of other dogs and be leery of trusting any random dogs.
Join a Running/Walking Group – In addition to being a fun and social way to get into the sport, exercising with a group is the safest way to go.
Wear ID – Wear an identification tag on your shoe or somewhere on your clothing/person, which should include: name, date/year of birth, emergency contact info, allergies, and any other medical information you deem pertinent. RoadID is a great option.
Tell Someone – Let someone in your household or a friend know where you’re headed, which direction/route you are taking, and the estimated length of time you expect to be out.