Want To Start Running? Here’s How To Do It Safely

Worried about lacing up or hitting the pavement? Here's how to do it right.

Throughout 2020, gyms were opening and closing as frequently as our front doors to the postman, and while we’re hoping that’ll be a different story in 2021, we also want to be prepared.

With most of us spending more time indoors than ever before, our daily exercise routine has never been more important, and this was made trickier without the gym. In 2020’s first lockdown, we saw what felt like everyone we knew on social media taking up running. Aiming for 5k is a great place to start, and being restricted within 5k meant it was the ideal sport to get us through. Suddenly everyone was tagged in running challenges and raising money too.

That was spring and summer, but running in winter is a whole other thing. We loathe to write this, but unfortunately for women running in winter isn’t as safe as it is in the bright summer months. If you like an early morning run, or prefer to head out in the evening after work, it’s not like the long days of June and July – instead, it’s pitch dark before we know it.

As frustrating as it is to even have to consider this, being careful running in these months is essential for your safety. We are by no means suggesting that you stop running when it’s dark – we don’t ever think women should feel that way – but there are a few sensible things you can do to make your daily jog a little safer.

Don’t Map Your Route

As much as we love to show off our impressive distances, or that we managed to shave 20 seconds off our personal best, be careful what you share online. Fire away with sharing the stats that you’ve worked so hard for, but never share your route on social media.

Many running apps, including some couch to 5k ones, clearly show your route on a map including place names. As many of us start our run straight out the front door, not only does it show where you live but also where you like to run. Either switch your social media profiles to private or don’t share your running route. You never know who could be following you or why.

Invest In A Run Angel

So many running gadgets can be tricky and overcomplicated, but this tool from Irish company Run Angel is super simple. Download the app on to your phone and set up three people as your emergency contacts. Then, wear your Run Angel like a watch, and if you’re in trouble or even think you might be, you simply hit the alarm.

Not only does it emit an incredibly loud noise (don’t make our mistake and test it at home late at night) but it also sends an SMS message and an email with the date, time and your location to your three contacts alerting them to the fact that you’re in danger.

Run Where It’s Busy

This isn’t always feasible, but if you can, try to run as close to civilisation as possible. Deserted beaches and dodgy side street shortcuts are not ideal if you’re running pre or post-daylight. Instead, try to stick to busy streets or parks and avoid anywhere too quiet.

High Vis

Okay, okay, we know. You invested in all that stunning Nike running hear and now you have to wear a high vis? Not ideal.

But if you’ve ever been out driving after dark and spotted a jogger at the last minute dressed in all black, you’ll know how easy it is not to be seen. It also depends on where you live – rural roads are dangerous at the best of times, so make sure you’re wearing something super visible.

There are plenty of ways of doing this without wearing an ugly high visibility vest too. Keep your eyes peeled for running gear that features something reflective. Nike usually stock a selection of high visibility jackets that aren’t hideous, and Sweaty Betty has leggings with reflective stripes and prints which are also a great option.

Alternatively, you can get a snap band that you pop around your upper arm before heading out the door. Simple but effective.

Headphones

Music is an essential part of any runner’s regime, but it can make you vulnerable. Blaring Cardi B’s WAP might make you run faster, but it can also mean you’re less likely to be aware of your surroundings, or obstacles like cyclists or passing cars. If you’re running somewhere busy and well-lit, it’s fine, but on dark nights or early mornings, we’d suggest either turning it down slightly or adopting a one-in-one-out policy.

Bone conduction headphones, the latest technology, are ideal. It sounds weird, but instead of going inside your ears, they sit just above, on your temples. Similar to hearing aid technology, the sound is picked up through your other ear as well as through the vibrations in your jaw.

Sounds mad, but we’ve tried them and surprisingly, they work really well! It also means you can still hear what’s going on around you, so you don’t have to give you that 90s R&B playlist you worked so hard curating.

Images via Twenty20
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