We think every month should be National Running Safety Month. Check out the safety concerns voiced by runners, discover the four crucial components of runner safety and explore how new technology and gear can provide individuals a safer run.
Safety For Every Level Of Outdoor Enthusiast
The last decade has made it clear: we want to run. There are 19 million runners in the United States alone, and they represent a 1.4 billion dollar industry. Almost anyone can lace up a pair of sneakers and learn to run, making it a sport that anyone can try—but it comes with its own risks and dangers. As running continues to be one of the most popular sports in America, we need to do everything we can to keep ourselves safe.
We strive for a world without worry. Until then, however, we believe that we can still protect ourselves during any adventure – big or small – with the help of education and technology. Preparing ourselves for uncertain situations is a must, and that means taking action to ensure that we’re as safe as possible when enjoying the active lifestyles that we love.
A Safer Run
The one thing every runner has in common? Safety. Whether we’re circling the block, or training for an ultramarathon, runners spend an incredible amount of time researching and training to keep our bodies safe and strong. We’ll shop for months for arch-supporting sneakers and the perfect protein bar, and read up on which side of the road to run to avoid car collisions. We want to stay as safe as possible.
Runners are practical and logical: our favorite hobby is often a solo sport, so we know the importance of safety. However, there is still a huge need for runners — female runners in particular — to feel safer and more secure during training and racing. Harassment is still a reality for women runners.
The Four Elements Of Runner Safety
Rich Staropoli, a former Secret Service agent and security expert, says women shouldn't be forced into changing their exercise habits because of fear. "Statistically, you are very safe exercising outdoors," he says. "But just like any situation when you're on your own, staying aware of your environment and employing some simple strategies for your safety are the keys to continuing to enjoy outdoor activity all year long."
Running Safety includes four major elements:
Cell Phones Are Not Enough
There are lots of options for runners in the self-defense, sight, and hearing sections, but communication is considered to be the purview of the cellular phone industry. However, phones give the average person a false sense of security.
Runners who find themselves in danger may quickly have their phones grabbed out of their hands or pockets. Even if they manage to hold on to them, most smartphones still require the entry of a password and several steps beyond that to make a call. When seconds count, pulling out a phone to call for help in a true emergency is not a practical or realistic option.
In the summer of 2016, the Boston Globe reported on three shocking cases where runners were trying to use their smartphones before they were attacked. In a survey, the Globe found that 63 percent of female runners choose routes where they feel it’s unlikely they’ll be harmed, and 60 percent limit their runs to daylight hours. More than 70 percent of female runners carry a phone with them and let someone know their route and when they’ll be back, and 54 percent (compared with 7 percent of male runners) said they always, often, or sometimes headed out the door concerned that they “could be physically assaulted or receive unwanted physical contact during a run.”
Wearables: The Most Reliable Communication
The need for a better running safety solution than a phone has been addressed by wearables, which are more accessible, discreet, and instantaneously useful in an emergency. Products like Wearsafe have raised the standard for runner safety by introducing a new category: safety as a service. A swift and discreet press of the Wearsafe Tag connects the runner’s network with audio, GPS location, and emergency services in a fraction of the time it would take to use a cell phone.
Wearsafe has also founded the #WeRunSafe movement, with a mission to band together so we can safely enjoy the active lifestyles that we love. Wearsafe and the rest of the #WeRunSafe team focuses on the importance of active communities, and encourages both runners and retailers to share safety tips, utilize technology, and promote good habits within their circles. The world is a crazy place, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take action to ensure that we’re as safe as possible when out and about.
The Safety Runners Deserve
Runners of all levels deserve to feel secure at every moment of their training. They should be empowered to do their best and focus on their goals—not worry about what emergency might be lying around the corner on every route. All of the best training and gear should include safety.
The good news is that the outdoor safety category is emerging. Retailers and businesses are already recognizing the importance of running safety, and giving it the attention it deserves. We have a responsibility to create a world in which women have the freedom to be healthy, reach their goals, and enjoy their solitude—all by lacing up our sneakers and getting out for a run.
RunSafer's Safety Tips
Next time you head out, follow these top safety tips by a former US Olympic Distance Runner and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt, Todd Williams. Williams created RUNSAFER safety program to help all runners and athletes not only become faster and stronger but safer when they're in an environment that may warrant self defense training. Whether you are a runner, avid biker, or just enjoy a local hike, learn these valuable safety tips.