As the days become shorter, the light available for running becomes shorter, which is an essential detail runners should keep in mind as they take to the trails this fall.

Running for some is a way to stay in shape, to relieve stress, or to even explore new places. The last thing any runner would ever expect is an assault while enjoying a workout.

Unfortunately, there have already been a few reports of attacks on runners along the Boardman Lake trail this summer. While the chances of this happening to you are slim to none, here are a few tips to help make you safer and decrease chances of unwanted run-ins while you run. They might seem like common sense, but it’s never wrong to provide a friendly reminder.

Run with a partner if possible. Local running groups are a great way to run with people and make friends you can run with outside of organized group events. Running with a partner is also a great way to make sure to hold your running accountable as you don’t want to let your partner down by canceling.

Run in populated well-lit areas. It’s always smart to make sure you can see your surroundings. Make sure there is help readily available if needed.

Do your research. If running in an unfamiliar area, reach out to your local run club or hotel concierge to confirm the route you’re running is safe. They may even be able to recommend new places you have never heard of before.

Share your plans. Let someone know where you are going. GPS apps like Strava have technology that allows you to share your location in real-time so that you can have someone looking out for you during your run. One safety tip if you do choose to share your workout on social media: don’t start your Strava run from your home location. Social media posts can increase chances of unwanted visitors knowing where you run and live, as running routes beginning at the same place indicate where you live. Instead, start tracking your run about a quarter-mile from your home.

Stay alert. Unfortunately, headphones make any runner a much easier target, and if running in an unfamiliar area, it’s best to leave them at home. If you do choose to wear headphones, make sure that they are at a low volume so that you can hear everything around you.

Carry protective gear. A small clip-on knife, whistle or mace are perfect for assistance if approached by unwanted company. Just remember that you need to know how to use whatever you carry with you and be able to use it quickly.

Most importantly, trust your intuition. If an area or someone makes you have an uneasy feeling, remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible. Do not wait it out.

Being able to run is a gift and a privilege. Never let anyone deny you this gift. I sincerely hope this column provides some useful information to help make sure no one ever can.

Please message me at my new Facebook page ( if you would like to ask questions about running or local running clubs, or email me at

Jeff Houser is on the board and racing team of the Traverse City Track Club. He is an account manager at Knorr Marketing and drummer with the local pop-punk band, The Droogs. Learn more about the Traverse City Track Club at

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