Personal safety advice
UK Athletics in cooperation with the Home Country Athletics Federations has published updated advice for runners and joggers to ensure they are running safely. They have also included suggested guidance for non-runners.
The safety guidelines in running were refreshed following recent high-profile cases of harassment of athletes training in public areas. Any abuse or threats against runners are completely unacceptable. The safety guidelines published aim to support athletes, recreational runners and other participants exercising in public to feel prepared for any eventuality.
In addition – there is guidance for non-runners to highlight how some behaviours may cause harm or upset, even unintentionally. Explore the running advice to ensure you are running safely. Find the summarised guidance below; click here to download the full document (PDF 1MB)
- Run in daylight, but if that’s not possible then stay on well-lit routes or even use a head torch.
- Let someone know where you are likely to be running and a likely time to return. If possible, share your intended route with them.
- Make sure you know your route, if something happens and you are unfamiliar with the area it can be harder to find help.
- Download the What3Words app, especially if running in rural areas. The app allows emergency services to locate your exact position within a 3-metre square.
- Take a phone if possible but keep it hidden. If an item of yours becomes a motive for an attack, do not protect it at risk to yourself. A phone can always be replaced.
- Where possible, run on the side of the road facing the oncoming traffic.
- Share information with other runners on routes and paths that are safe. But be mindful of what personal information you share openly on social media.
- Try not to keep the exact same routine, e.g. always running a certain route at the same time.
- Headphones – consider whether wearing headphones on your chosen route compromises your running safety. If you use headphones, consider bone conduction headphones that allow you to still hear what and who is around you.
- Enjoy running in company - run with your RunTogether group!
If you encounter negative behaviours
- Do not react or retaliate as it can make the situation worse.
- Seek help as soon as possible if someone continues to hassle or threaten. Find another member of the public and explain what is happening.
- Try to keep moving and remain calm, it is the quickest way to get you to a safer point.
- If there is no one around, approach and knock the door of a house. Or find somewhere safe where you can call 999.
- Change direction, especially if followed by a car, bike, or motorcycle. Also, change direction if there is a risk of obstruction ahead.
How to report after the incident
- Make sure you tell someone what has happened. This can help you and inform others where problems may be. It may also help avoid repeat issues to ensure others can run safely.
- If you are still in immediate danger, call 999. If there is no immediate danger or risk, contact the police on 101 or via their local website where many forces have a web chat facility.
- If the harassment takes place on a privately owned site/commercial business, report it to the owner.
- Sharing the information with your local running group or relevant running leader can ensure that others do not face a similar incident
Want to be a running ally?
- Say nothing: Please don’t speak or shout out at a runner in public. What may sound like encouragement or a joke can sound hurtful and intimidating. It can also cause unnecessary distraction.
- Don’t sound your horn: If you are in a vehicle the purpose of the horn is to warn others of your presence. It can be disturbing and frightening if sounded unnecessarily at a runner. It can also unnecessarily distract other road users.
- Share public space: Most runners won’t take up much room and will be past you in a few seconds. If in a group or the path is narrow, let them get past without having to step into or across the road.
- Don’t touch: Allow runners their personal space. You should not make any contact with another person without their consent for any reason. Doing so can leave them feeling violated and scared. Trying to barge or impinge on their space could impact their running safety.
- Don’t join in: If you are not already running, please don’t start when a runner passes by. It’s not funny, and can come across as intimidating behaviour.
- Educate the young: Make sure youngsters see people exercising outdoors as a positive thing that deserves respect. Encourage them to adhere to the code of conduct
- Control the dog: Dogs can react in several ways and are often startled by runners. Keep them on a lead if they don’t respond to recall. Even if the dog is friendly, a dog that is jumping up and wants to ‘make friends can injure a runner by tripping them up.
For more advice and information on running safety visit our tips and advice page. We have plenty of guidance and running advice for runners of all abilities.