Running Safety


I recently explained to a running friend why I stick to city routes for my long runs, rather than running through the nice big park: I’m afraid of getting lost, and also, an intern was murdered in that park ten years ago.

This is a little ironic. People are almost certainly murdered more frequently in the low-income urban areas I run in instead of the park. The city streets are only “safer” from a certain perspective.

In some way, I guess, crime demographics are “on my side” (as sad as that is to say). The risks for a white woman in her 30s running in the neighborhoods I pass through are probably strikingly lower than for a younger black man who grew up there. This isn’t because of anything remarkable I have done to keep myself safer, nor any personal failing of those men who are more at risk. Crime is sometimes also about who you are, or who people think you are.

What do you do to be safer when running, keeping in mind that safer can mean different things?

  • I’ve heard the suggestion not to wear headphones; on a long run, I feel that I need them.
  • I try not to run the exact same route at the exact same time or on the same days. That said, I do have a handful of regular routes, and can’t really vary the time I run all that much.
  • I used to run after dark. I really liked it! I am now used to running in the morning and do that almost exclusively.
  • Personally I do think that running on city streets is safer than running in more woodsy areas; people can see me and I’m less likely to get lost.
  • I know that stretching beforehand is generally thought to be good … I’m a yogi(ni) … I don’t stretch 😦
  • I have been carrying my phone, which also has my music – this can be good if I get hurt and need to call someone, but bad if I become a target of theft because of it.
  • I almost always run alone. There’s no doubt it’s safer to run with other people, but my work schedule is extremely regimented and I would not run as much if I had to coordinate it all with another person or other people. I also feel I’m more likely to hurt myself when I am pushing myself to accommodate someone else’s pace.

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