I am a self proclaimed nervous Nancy, a worry-wart, a scared Sally. Honestly I get nervous about the littlest things and always think about the absolute worst things that could possibly happen.
When I first started running, even running in my small hometown, scared me. As I moved to college and now to a new state, I have come a long way to overcome my anxiety when running! I love to run, but I’m always very conscious that a lot of things can go wrong when you run. I also watch way too many crime and doctor shows and have just too wild of an imagination.
Whether you’re a anxious runner also or you’ve just started out running here are my tips for safe running!
Tip One: Stranger Danger!
When I’m running, everyone is a stranger. I don’t care if you’re a 90 year old grandmother or a 6 year old kid, I don’t know you, I don’t know your life, and I’m not definitely not going to interact with you. If another runner smiles at me, sure I’ll smile back or like nod, because other runners don’t scare me because like they’re a runner, I’m a runner, we’re going it opposite directions at fast paces, nothing bad can happen, right? I know it can seem a little extreme, but honestly whether you live in a big city or a small town you always need to be aware of other people, drivers, and everything about you. When I run on trails, if I walk past someone going the opposite direction, I honestly check over my shoulder just to make sure they didn’t decide to start following me. I’m crazy I know, but I’d rather be crazy and feel safe. I don’t trust animals either, like sorry mr. turtle but like get away from me.
When I first started running, in my small town of like 8,000 people most of whom I knew personally, I was running down the road I lived on, about a mile from my house, and a car drove past me and then pulled over and stopped. I WAS SO SCARED. My heart dropped. I turned around and sprinted home. Later that night, I found out it was my best friend, she had just gotten a new car and she saw me and stopped to say hi. In that moment, though, I had no idea who that person was and I sure as heck was not going to continue running at it and figure it out.
Also, if a car stops and asks you for directions because they can’t find something (this happens sometimes), keep your distance from the car. Again, you don’t know these people. And if you really don’t feel comfortable just say “sorry I don’t know” and continue your run.
I don’t want you to be thinking that I’m always so incredibly worked up and nervous-all-the-time when I’m running, because I’m not. I’ve relaxed. I love running, it’s my happy place and my alone time. Sure when I first started I was scared the entire run of every single gust of wind, but now I’m not. Even if I do run past someone who I think looks intimidating to me I stay calm, I don’t speed up, I just become aware. If you get worked up or even speed, that’s going to make your heart race and get you flustered, and it will really mess up your run, in my opinion.
Tip Two: Drivers Don’t See You
It doesn’t matter how bright your outfit is or how noticeable you think you are. 90% of drivers ( I made that number up, but a lot of drivers) aren’t paying attention to their surroundings. Even if you’re in a crosswalk, make sure that they see you. Make eye contact. Driveways to things like banks are especially dangerous. It’s not that drivers are intentionally ignoring you, they could be looking the other direction, or simply just not see you. And yes if they hit you it’s there fault, but like you can also make sure to be aware of your surroundings and not run out in front a car that you don’t think is going to stop for you.
Tip Three: Always Tell Someone You’re On A Run
Whether it’s your mom, your best friend, or your boyfriend (not your dog sorry they don’t count this time), tell someone that you’re on a run. If anything bad were to happen at least one person would know you were gone and that’s why no one has heard from you in hours.
Tip Four: ICE Contacts
If you have an iPhone you have the “Health” app, within the Health app you can set up your medical ID and your emergency contact information. If you use a passcode you’ll notice that when your phone is locked and you’re on the screen where you can enter your passcode you’ll see “Emergency” in the bottom left corner. Click on that and it redirects you to an emergency call screen and on the bottom of that screen you see “Medical ID”. I love this feature because it makes me feel safe about if something were to happen on a run or at a race someone could look for that and know I have asthma and my allergies and who to call in a matter of seconds.
The Health app and medical ID function are a little less common, so it’s important to also have “ICE” or “In Case of Emergency” listed as a contact in your phone with the number of your emergency contact so someone can know who to call.
When I run in big road races or if I’m on vacation or just running in a new place, I wear my Road ID bracelet. These are a great and inexpensive precaution that you can take. When I do runDisney events I always make sure to wear this. You never know what can happen in a race. You can roll and ankle, pass out, literally anything. And this being on your wrist is very convenient, they’re not uncomfortable or itchy either and I like the skinny one because it doesn’t get in the way of my watch. These come in a ton of different colors and you can get little add ons to remind you of your goals or support a charity!
Here is my RoadID in action last year at The Color Run!
Tip Five: Run with a Friend
If running alone makes you nervous, try to recruit a friend to run with you or find a running group in your area! If you have a running store rear you, chances are they have a weekly running group that is open to the public. Don’t be afraid to go to and join group runs.
Never, ever run in the woods alone. That’s like a major no-no. There are so many things that can go wrong in the woods. This one isn’t even just like if you’re a worry-wart, like no. You never run in the woods alone. Even my college coaches didn’t run in the woods alone. Like bring your friends, or at least a dog.
Tip Six: Run in Familiar Places
I have a rule for myself that I never run down a road I have never driven down, you never know what’s gonna be down there. Whether it’s a huge hill or a yeti you just don’t know! In my hometown where I lived my entire life up until leaving for college, I run on backroads that I am very familiar with and know every curve. Here in my new town, I run on main roads, down the downtown strip, and down the roads I drive down. There is so much of this town that I don’t know and I’m certainly not going to go exploring it on my own two tired little legs all alone when I don’t know where or what I’m getting myself into.
Maybe I sound a little crazy, but I think that a lot of people face anxiety about running. And you know what, I think it’s better to be aware that bad things can happen from rolling an ankle miles away from home to passing out in the heat to God knows what, and to be as aware and prepared as you can be. Strangers scare me and have from the time I was super young. Not that I’m paralyzed with fear by them (just don’t walk really close behind me, that freaks me out), I am just aware that not all people have good intentions. But hey I still go out and run and participate in the world! So I hope these tips have helped bring some peace of mind to any fellow nervous Nancys out there!