UK Athletics Safety Guidance for Runners and Joggers

Personal safety advice

UK Athletics in cooperation with the Home Country Athletics Federations have published updated safety advice for runners and joggers as well as suggested guidance for non-runners.

The advice was refreshed following some recent high-profile cases of harassment of athletes training in public areas.  Any abuse or threats against athletes whilst training are completely unacceptable, and the safety guidelines published are to support athletes, recreational runners and other sports people exercising in public to feel prepared for any eventuality.

In addition – guidance for non-runners has been published to highlight how some behaviours may cause harm or upset, even unintentionally. The guidance is summarised below; click here to download the full document (PDF 1MB)

Pre Run Planning

  • 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 also 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 is used by emergency services to locate your exact position to within a 3 metre square.
  • Take a phone if possible but keep it hidden and if for any reason 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 running the route you have chosen in headphones increases your risk. 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 to or return the behaviour 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 being followed by a car or someone on a cycle or motorcycle. Also, if there is a risk of being obstructed ahead, a change of direction will reduce that risk

How to report after the incident

  • Make sure you tell someone what has happened. This can help both you but also inform others as to where problems may be. It may also help avoid repeat issues for runners.
  • If you are still in immediate danger call 999. As long as 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, also 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 even a joke can sound at best like you’re making fun (not nice) and at worse, well…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 user
  • Share public space: Most runners won’t take up much room and will be past you in a few seconds and try and give you space. If you are in a group, or the path is narrow just do enough so they can get past without having to put themselves in danger by stepping into or crossing 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 and doing so can leave them feeling violated and scared. Trying to barge or impinge on their space could also cause a runner to stumble or fall
  • Don’t join in: If you are not already running, please don’t start when a runner passes by. It’s not funny, and it can come across as intimidating behaviour. Make sure youngsters see people exercising outdoors as a positive thing that deserves respect and adhere to the code of conduct.
  • Educate the young: Make sure youngsters see people exercising outdoors as a positive thing that deserves respect and adhere to the code of conduct
  • Control the dog: Dogs can react in a number of ways and may be startled by a runner. 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 through tripping them up.

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