7 Ways to Stay Safe on Your Runs

By Chris Wodke 

Milwaukee running Jenny Crain suffered serious head and neck injuries after being hit by a car while training on the east side of Milwaukee on August 21, 2007.

Crain was four-time Olympic Trials qualifier in the marathon. She represented the U.S. in the marathon at the 2005 World Track & Field Championships, and was the top U.S. finisher at the 2004 ING New York City Marathon. Crain finished 11th at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in 2:37:36.

Crain is still working to recover from that accident. A number of fundraising efforts have been put together over the years to help Crain, including a cookbook. You can also make a direction donation to the Jenny Crain "Make It Happen" Fund at JennyCrain.net.

Crain's accident serves as a painful reminder of what can happen when you're out on your runs--particularly on city streets.

Here are some tips to stay safe during your run:


Always run against traffic. You will have a clear view of the traffic. Be especially careful of cars making turns. If you run with traffic, cars making right turns will be behind you. Run against traffic for a better view. Cars may not see you, so make eye contact and run defensively.

Traffic Lights

Never cross in intersection when the "don't walk" light is flashing or on. Don't take a chance that the intersection is clear. Make eye contact with drivers to be sure they see you. Motion them through the intersection so you can be sure it is clear.

Make a Presence

Wear bright colors to help drivers spot you. If you have to run at night, wear reflective colors and be extra mindful of traffic. Carry pepper spray to deter dogs and other unfriendly types.


Women need to be extra careful. Stick to well-traveled and well-lit areas. Avoid running alone at night and early in the morning. Stay on main streets if running at night or early in the morning. Stay away from remote areas of trails or bike paths if running alone. Vary your running route and run in low-crime areas.


It can be great to run with music, but keep the volume low enough so you can hear traffic or someone coming up behind you. Always be aware of your surroundings. Look for "safe" areas like gas stations you can run to if needed.


Bring some form of ID with you in case you need medical attention. A good choice is the Road ID band. Many race packets have a discount for this product.


What if you pull a hamstring on a long run? You may want to have some cash to get home or bring a cell phone to call for a ride.