Running is a sport of simplicity: You don’t need much equipment beyond a good pair of running shoes. You can lace up and head out the door or hop on a treadmill and be moving in seconds. And although it’s inherently accessible, running isn’t inherently safe, especially if you’re running outdoors.
Unfortunately, the dangers are always there: a distracted driver causing an accident, injuring yourself in the middle of a session or receiving unwanted attention that leads to a confrontation.
In a 2017 survey conducted by Runner’s World, 43 percent of women reported experiencing harassment on the run, compared to just 4 percent of men. In a 2021 joint survey done by Runner’s World and Women’s Health, more than 2,000 runners responded. Out of those respondents, 60 percent of women reported being harassed while running; 25 percent reported experiencing unwanted sexual advances or sexist comments; and 6 percent reported feeling threatened to the point that they feared for their lives.
While scientific studies in this field are lacking, the numbers from these surveys show that dangers to women while running have only escalated. Issues of safety and discomfort are often gender-based discussions, but it’s important to acknowledge that the responsibility to remain safe is not only on female runners.
Below are items the LIVESTRONG.com team brings on the run for peace of mind. And while these safety gadgets can increase protection, this is an ongoing conversation that must involve everyone in order to protect all runners.
The Birdie is a personal safety alarm that can be carried at all times. Although a small device, it has a big presence: Once activated, a loud siren goes off with strobe light effects meant to deter or scare off a potential attacker. Once you feel safe again, the alarm can be easily deactivated and ready to be used again whenever necessary. The Birdie comes in a wide range of bright colors, so it’s easy to find in your purse or gym bag — no digging necessary.
If you’re looking for a self defense accessory that will fly under the radar, the Go Guarded Ring is a winner. At a glance it looks like a stylish ring, but hidden is a blade that will automatically pop out on impact. The safety ring comes in multiple sizes to fit any runner and can be worn in all situations where you may need extra protection.
Run with confidence with this defense tool comfortably in your hand. The Saber Runner Pepper Gel device works similarly to pepper spray, but instead has a gel consistency to resist wind blowback and can be used indoors. Each pepper gel has an adjustable hand strap for immediate access and easy carrying.
Sometimes early mornings or evening miles are the only time you can get it done, especially when the seasons change. Make sure vehicles on the road can see you with the Noxgear visibility vest. The lightweight vest features LED lights with eight different color modes and a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 20 hours. You can stay safe while you move and be seen up to 1/4 mile away.
Accidents happen when you least expect it. Some of those accidents require help from strangers or first responders. That’s why it’s important to have your emergency contact information on hand to get in touch with your loved ones. The Road ID bracelet is meant to communicate essential information in case of emergencies — medical history, emergency contact phone numbers and allergies. And the silicone band is built to endure any slip or fall.
These wearable reflectors give you a lightweight attachable option for visibility. The magnetic reflectors have flashing LED lights that keep you seen in dark conditions. Attach it to your top, shorts or water bottle for a bright addition to your outfit that will help you stand out to drivers.
Buy it: Amphipod ($10); Amazon ($9.95); REI ($;9.95; may be available for in-store pick-up)
Music can fuel any workout, but staying aware of your surroundings is vital. These open-ear headphones are made with bone conduction technology, allowing you to listen to music while also hearing what’s going on around you (without sacrificing sound quality). These are built to be waterproof and last up to eight hours with a quick-charge battery.
The Apple Watch SE, Series 4 and later models have a fall detection feature that alerts 911 or emergency contacts when you’ve fallen while wearing the watch. Here’s how to turn it on:
- Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and select the ‘My Watch’ tab.
- Select ‘Emergency SOS.’
- Turn ‘Fall Detection’ on. You can select ‘Always on’ or ‘Only on’ during workouts.
For additional safety, make sure your emergency contacts and medical information are set up in your iPhone’s Health app.
Buy it: Apple (Current Series; From $399); Amazon (Series 4; $147.99)