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Safety Tips: Running

Medically reviewed by: Amy W. Anzilotti, MD

Whether it's as part of a high school track program or cross-country team or a way to get in shape, running is a wonderful sport. It's great exercise, almost anyone can do it, and all you really need to get started is a good pair of sneakers.

These tips can help you run safely.

Safe Running Gear


It's best to get fitted for running shoes by a trained professional. They can help runners get shoes that:

  • fit well
  • have good support with a thick, shock absorbing-sole

Minimalist shoes are becoming popular, but there's no evidence that they're better than regular running shoes.


Running socks come in a variety of materials, thicknesses, and sizes. Avoid socks made from 100% cotton. When cotton gets wet, it stays wet, leading to blisters in the summer and cold feet in the winter. Instead, buy socks made from wool or synthetic materials such as polyester and acrylic.

Safe Training and Running

To prevent injuries while training or running:

  • Get a sports physical before starting running.
  • Train sensibly, by increasing distances and speed slowly.
  • Warm up and stretch before running. Dynamic stretching is the best kind of stretching before a run or workout.
  • Stop running if you get hurt or feel pain. Get checked by an athletic trainer, coach, doctor, or nurse before going back to running.

Safety While Running Outdoors

It's important to stay alert while running outdoors. Don't wear headphones or earbuds or anything else that might make you less aware of your surroundings. Staying safe while running involves the same common sense used to stay safe anywhere else, like avoiding parked cars and dark areas, and taking note of who is behind you and ahead of you.

Runners should carry a few essentials, such as:

  • a form of identification
  • a cellphone
  • a whistle to blow to attract attention if you're hurt or in a situation where you don't feel safe

Other safety tips:

  • Run during daylight hours, if possible. For nighttime running, avoid dimly lit areas and wear bright and/or reflective clothes.
  • Stay on the sidewalk or shoulder of a road, if possible.
  • Run facing oncoming cars.
  • Always yield to vehicles at intersections. Don't assume that cars will stop for you.
  • Obey all traffic rules and signals.
  • Only run through neighborhoods and parks and on trails known to be safe. It's always best to run with a friend, if possible.
  • Dress for the weather. In cold weather, wear layers of sweat-wicking fabric, a hat, and gloves. On hot days, bring extra water and wear light-colored clothing and a hat. Stop running if you feel faint or sick in any way.
Medically reviewed by: Amy W. Anzilotti, MD
Date reviewed: March 2019