I was nervous when I started running trails solo. Seeing other women in greater frequencies out hitting the dirt gave me some added confidence to make the trek without a partner or group. Men and women both have safety concerns they need to be aware of, though women are more likely to be victims and should take a few extra precautions.
While this list is written with the intent of solo trail running in mind, it’s also a good list to follow if you are running with a partner or trail running group.
- Wear the proper shoes. Trail running shoes are a good idea since they provide more stability, traction, and often water resistance. Go get fitted for a pair at REI or another store that carries trail shoes.
- Bring enough water and food. It is very easy to get lost on a trail or end up out there longer than you planned. Bring more than you think you’ll need.
- Use the buddy system. Tell a friend where you are going and for about how long. Call them when you get back.
- Don’t wear headsets. This is hard for most of us, so if you must, make sure you keep the volume low so you can still hear people, animals, bikers, etc.
- Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings. You should be constantly scanning your environment to keep an eye out for predators (feline and human). Sometimes your best defense is just to be aware.
- Carry a cell phone. Good idea for emergencies.
- Carry pepper spray. Can be invaluable against human—or animal—attacks. (Note that some states have laws governing use of pepper spray.)
- Don’t run the same route every day. This gives a would-be attacker an added advantage—especially if you also do this at the same time every day.
- Consider leaving your dog at home (in mountain lion country). Running with a dog is often a mountain lion attractor and can give a false sense of security.
- Carry ID or Get a RoadID. In a worst case situation if you pass out or become otherwise injured and unable to talk, having proper I.D. can be extremely important.