Some Thoughts On Running Safely

Like many of you, I was distressed to hear about Karina Vetrano and Vanessa Marcotte, the two runners who were killed while getting their miles in. This followed several reports of disturbing incidents in and around Prospect Park this past spring, where my wife, Stacey, and I do the majority of our running.

Unfortunately, these terrible crimes serve as a reminder that despite our parks and neighborhoods being as safe as they ever have been in my lifetime, bad things still happen in NYC. We live in a big city with a lot of people in it. At all times, you need to keep your head up, be alert and aware of your surroundings. Sometimes, you may even need to go out of your way or be slightly inconvenienced to guarantee your safety. 

In September NYCRUNS is going to try to hold several group runs that focus on how we can run safely year round in specific areas in Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan. We’ll get the details to you once we have them ironed out, but, in the meantime, we wanted to provide some running safety tips for you. Hopefully, none of these are new to you, but if you haven’t been heeding them, there’s no better time for a refresher. 

  • Run With Someone Else: No matter where you live, but especially in the NYC area, you can always find someone to run with. If your demanding schedule and training plan has you running a certain pace at 4 AM deep in Queens, finding a running partner may be difficult, but for most of us, it’s very doable.Start with a running club. We list a variety of clubs on NYCRUNS—fast, slow, competitive, there’s something for every type of runner. Prospect Park Track Club (primarily in Brooklyn), the NY Flyers (primarily in Manhattan), and Hellgate (primarily in Queens) are among, what I believe to be, the most diverse offerings.

    Regular group runs, including our own Thirsty Thursdays, provide another way to meet local runners. Feel free to post on our Facebook Page as well if you want to find a partner.

  • Take The Headphones Off: I personally hate running without music or podcasts, but having ear buds in and being unaware of your surroundings can be dangerous. Prospect Park and Central Park can feel deserted after dark, but even during the day, more remote areas of the parks can nearly empty. You should be fully aware of your own surroundings at all times.

    Recently, I’ve started running with Aftershokz, which are out-of-ear headphones, which allow you to listen to your music and hear what’s going on around you. Recommended if you can’t stand the idea of running in silence.

  • Carry A Cell Phone: We can think of several things you can bring with you on a run, but none are more useful than a cell phone. Invest in a good arm band if you don’t have one, and soon, you’ll barely notice its weight on your arm. Some bands have enough space for an ID, cash, and a metro card, all of which are smart things to carry with you on a run.
  • Don’t Run The Same Route All The Time: You may be partial to a particular loop at a precise time each day, but given the recent tragedies, you’d do well to change it up. Plus, by choosing a new route, you force yourself to be more aware, and that’s a big plus.
  • Let People Know You’re Out There: This can be as simple as posting on Facebook that you’re heading out for a loop in Astoria Park (why not, you share everything else about your run online!) or making sure your roommate knows you plan to be out running for 45 minutes or so. On your run, get into the habit of making eye contact with other runners. The person you give the runner’s nod to may be someone who has your back if anything unsettling should occur.

Because it’s outside of our scope of expertise, I’ve chosen not to address self-defense practices here. As a company, self-defense tactics are something we’d like to look into, so stay tuned for more news on that front. For now, please use common sense and follow the safety tips above.