Safe in the City: Protecting Yourself on an Early Morning Run

The other day while scrolling through my Facebook news feed, a post by a fellow runner friend popped out at me. It was picture of a runner training on an open country road on a bright sunny day, with the caption, “Fall PRs are built from summer sweat.”

7

Given the fact that I had just finished a difficult twelve miles of training, I needed to see this picture at that precise moment. Let’s face it, summer training can be difficult. Heat and humidity have been the downfall of many a runner. In a perfect world every run would be in fifty degree weather. Alas this is only possible within a small window of time throughout the year. As athletes, we must be resilient and adapt to the conditions around us. If we want to chase those fall PRs it is important that we embrace that summer sweat. While we might not particularly enjoy this necessary component of training, learning to at least coexist with it is a surefire way to ensure future success.

One of the ways we coexist with summer is to “beat the heat,” by starting our morning runs before sunrise. A great deal of those who embrace the running lifestyle will tell you that this is the perfect time of day for their runs. Most will cite the peacefulness that is morning along with a healthy start to their day as the prime motivator.

This standard in running practice seems to transcend various residential settings. Those living in the country, the ‘burbs, and the city are all likely to take advantage of the time morning runs affords us.

Depending on where you’re from, each of these living conditions present runners with various challenges when it comes to safety out on the road. As a city boy, I thought I would share with you some of the precautions I take to stay safe in the city when it’s necessary to do an early morning run.

It should be noted that I live in an area with a low crime rate; nevertheless, one must still use common sense when running in the city because isolated incidents although rare, do happen.

With this in mind I follow a few ground rules.

1: Stay Local Before Sunrise

I run up and down the block. I set a boundary between four avenues and I run up one side of the street and back down the other side once I reach my avenue boundary. When I finish running on my block I move on to the next block doing the same run between my set avenues. By doing this the scenery changes and I get my miles in. In my case the span I run works out to a half mile on each side of the street.

A typical street in my neighborhood prior to sunrise.

2: No Music Before Sunrise

The streets are deserted when I start my run. For a brief time the hustle and bustle of city life is suspended. I like to enjoy the silence of the city. This allows me to enjoy the sound of the birds chirping and more importantly keep my wits about me in case I was to run into a negative situation. Once the sun rises and the world wakes up, outcome the ear buds.

3: No Parks until Sunrise

Like the streets, parks for the most part are empty before the sun comes up. While they are tempting to run through in the peacefulness of morning, one must realize the potential dangers that they can conceal. It is for this reason I refuse to enter the park before daylight hours. By the time the sun rises the world is waking up and my local park is full of runners. I can abandon my running up and down the block for laps on the track, rolling hills, and trotting on the banks of the river.

As the sun comes up, my local track starts to see some life.
As the sun comes up, my local track starts to see some life.

4: Never Leave Home Without Identification

In between runs, I keep my Road ID inside my left running shoe. The wristband has my emergency contact information printed on it. Before the shoes go on my feet the Road ID goes on my wrist.I stay safe in the city by remembering to wear my Road ID before heading out.

5: Listen to that Inner Voice

Hundreds of thousands of years of evolution can’t be wrong. If you sense danger, turn around and run the other way. Always trust your first instinct. In the end, better safe than sorry.

As a runner, training is a fact of life. Fall races are going to happen regardless of how hot it was in the summer. Since we must train, it is of the utmost importance that we stay safe so we could be successful later.

What are some of the ways you keep safe in the city on early morning runs? Tell us in the comment section below.

Dave Koch

About Author:

Running sort of snuck up on Dave. He found his love for it after being asked to take on the role of an assistant track coach at the high school where he currently teaches. Before long, he found himself inspired by the runners he was surrounded with. Dave brings a light side to the far end of the race pack. He especially enjoys running in Disney World. Having never imagined himself to be a runner, Dave has embraced the idealism of Walt Disney believing that with hard work one can achieve greatness. He's always up for shenanigans along the way.

One thought on “Safe in the City: Protecting Yourself on an Early Morning Run

  1. Nice post, Dave. I do several of these things too–no earbuds in the dark, road ID always, and my route is closer to home before the sun comes up. While I can’t embrace the heat, I can tell you that the early morning quietness makes it worth the 5am alarm clock!

Leave a comment, if you dare!