by Jen Rulon October 31, 2019

Every November, the running community unites for National Running Safety Month. It's an important reminder to keep an eye out for your own safety, and for the safety of other runners. Thankfully, there’s a wealth of information and tips to stay safe when you hit the pavement or the trail. In honor of the occasion, ROAD iD Ambassador Jen Rulon is sharing her safety rules gathered over 18+ years of experience as a triathlete and USA Triathlon Coach.

I remember this moment all too well. It was February 2015 and I was preparing for Ironman Texas in May 2015. I took my dog, Macca, for a trail run. We ran from home. It took us about one mile to get to the trails. I took my phone that day, and I am not sure why? I rarely do. 

As we jumped on the trail, I saw Macca doing his circling to “poop.” I started laughing because I loved his look he was giving me, “Momma, please don’t watch. I will catch up.” I wasn’t paying attention. I heard a “pop,” and I literally fell to the ground. Thank goodness it wasn’t in Macca’s droppings. I thought, “Damn it. That tree branch cracked hard, and my ankle hurt.”

As I got up and continued my run (I mean, that’s what us triathletes do) I was in fight mode. About 10 minutes into my run, I looked down. My ankle was swollen like a grapefruit. I was in flight mode. OH, MY WORD. I trashed my ankle.

What did I need to do? Call my husband, call my doc, and get back home. Thank Goodness I had my phone, but there are so many times that I don’t always have my phone. Your personal safety is always important when running. If you are injured, you may have a difficult time notifying someone if you are not prepared. Here are some more Rulon Rules for Running Safety:

  1. Make sure that you are accountable for your own safety by being constantly aware of your surroundings and prepared to address any emergency situation.
  2. Be sure to run in familiar surroundings or in a group. Going by yourself into a new and unfamiliar setting is a way of exponentially increasing the hazard of your running. Running with a partner is always ideal, but if that is not possible, then you should at least ensure that you are familiar with the location you are running to. You should always tell someone where you will be running and how long you intend to be gone. Or you can download the ROAD iD, which is SO helpful. I have done that many times, especially being out of town in an unfamiliar place!
  3. It is highly recommended that you always carry a cell phone with you for emergencies for any emergencies that may arise while running. (See #2)
  4. Runners should always respect traffic. In situations where the runner has the right of way, it is advised to pause and confirm it is safe to proceed. You may be absolutely in the right, but if you make an assumption about the actions of a car and they do something contrary to traffic law, then you could end up in a severe accident. Automobile drivers are typically very conscious and safe, but it only takes one mistake to injure a runner seriously. We also know how very distracted drivers can be these days!
  5. Always run facing traffic and avoid hazardous situations such as shoulderless roads or blind corners.
  6. Situational awareness is critical to staying safe while running. Many runners choose to wear headphones to help the miles pass while exercising. This is great when you are in a controlled environment such as a track, but this can be exceptionally dangerous when you are near traffic or in unfamiliar terrain. Try to avoid unnecessary distractions while running to ensure your safety. Trust me, I LOVE my music WAY more than you know BUT I also have to be uber smart with my long runs and music.
  7. Being a runner can make you vulnerable to criminals. Typically, runners are not known to carry a lot of money on them, so robbing is rare, but many runners have been the victims of violent assault crimes. To avoid making yourself a target, you can stick to public areas that are not overly isolated and vary your path and running time slightly so that you do not become predictable by those that may be searching for victims.
  8. Last but not least, wear that ROAD iD to let people know WHO you are!

ROAD iD Ambassador Jen Rulon is a USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach of 18+ years and owner of She received her Masters in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Exercise Science. You can find her knowledge shared in Triathlete Magazine, Runners World, on the TEDx Stage, the Health and Wellness Expo in San Antonio, TX, Men’s Journal Online, and the New York Times. Jen also practices what she preaches–she’s a 14x Ironman Triathlete who participated for the World Championship in Kona, Hawaii on October 14, 2017.

See more about Team ROAD iD Ambassadors