I love running. But I'm also a realist and I think if you're going to hit the road running you need to be smart about it. Here are three quick tips to be safe. Disclaimer: I'm not an expert on safety, fitness or running. These are practical tips I've learned in my running experience.
Plan ahead. If you are limited on sidewalks, like me, choose routes with low speed limits and plenty of shoulder. I like to drive my road runs before I venture out on foot. I also use RunKeeper to keep track of routes and activities but I've used a similar site called MapMyRun. Let someone know your plan--but not everyone. I cringe when I see other female runners post their routes on Facebook or Twitter, giving would-be attackers a virtual treasure map. Unfortunately this is a reality we have to live with, so hope for the best and plan for the worst.
Be visible. Wear high-visibility reflective gear even in daytime so you stick out from your surroundings. I like Sierra Trading for good deals on gear but Brooks has a great selection. Acknowledge others (other runners, cyclists, neighbors, the mailman). A quick wave or nod will ensure they see you and it will help them remember you.
Be a defensive runner. Pay attention to drivers because they may not be focused on the road or expecting to see you. Distracted drivers may be fiddling with a phone, radio, other device, eating a sandwich or talking to kids in the backseat. Run in the direction facing traffic as much as possible so you can play the best defense.
Knowing self defense techniques in case you are attacked is smart. My fiancé insists I carry pepper spray on certain routes, particularly secluded areas like bike paths and trail runs. I also love these shorts with a built in gun holster.
How do you stay safe while running?