Running Safely - 15th May 2019

Phil - running coach
by Phil - Marathon coach and parkrun fan
last updated: 23rd May 2023

It's dangerous out there. One of the great things about running is the fact that you can just stick on a pair of shoes and get up and go. But many runners don't consider their safety. Here are some tips to help keep you safe when out and about.

Be seen

One of the best ways to be seen is by running during daylight hours, but sometimes it's necessary to run in the dark, especially during winter when the nights start drawing in.

Reflective gear, headtorches and even light-coloured clothing can all help you be seen. Drivers (at least some) are used to looking out for other road traffic, cyclists and walking pedestrians rather than runners. The difference in movement and speed can throw off their judgement, so it's really important to make them aware of your presence.

And It's not just vehicles you need to watch out for - even though running is becoming more and more popular, most pedestrians don't expect to have somebody racing past them.


I am in the habit of always looking twice before I cross a road. Most of the time it's unnecessary, but scenery can change quickly and a second glance could alert you to a car that's just turned the corner or a cyclist pulling out from behind a bus.

Keep an eye on your surroundings at all times and anticipate what's happening ahead. And expect the unexpected: remember that many drivers don't bother to signal and cars can pull out unexpectedly.


Whilst music and podcasts and anything else you might want to listen to while running are useful, it's worth weighing these benefits against safety compromise. Being able to hear traffic, cyclists, warning calls etc. is really useful. Consider wearing one headphone at a time or investing in some bone conduction headphones.

Be contactable

Or rather make sure you're able to contact somebody else. This is obviously useful in an emergency, but can also help if you twist your ankle and would rather get a lift home from a friend than risk making things worse.

Carry cash

You probably won't need it, but being able to travel home by public transport or taxi could come in very useful. It's also handy for hot weather in case you need to buy a drink mid-run.

Carry ID

Not something many people do, but it becomes especially important if you have some medical condition that people will need to know about should you suffer an accident. An emergency contact number is also a good idea.

Know where you are

If you're running at night or feel a little unsafe for any other reason then knowing your route and where you are can really be helpful. You avoid the risk of getting lost, and if you need to phone for help then you can let somebody know where you are.

Let others know where you are

This is a common safety tip, but people rarely do it. Have you ever deliberately told anybody where you are for safety reasons? It could be worth getting in the habit. It probably works best with a running buddy for whom you can reciprocate and who won't get annoyed by relentless text messages in the run up to your next big race.

Another option is to share location via GPS. Strava Beacon has safety features built in.

Get off the road

Quiet trails come with their own set of dangers, but running in a busy park or on a running track means that you're away from traffic and can be in the company of others.

Be social

Safety in numbers is true for running as for so many other activities. Running with even one other person can increase safety significantly. There are so many groups and clubs around these days that it's possible to carry out a significant portion of your training with others.

Stay safe - Phil