1. Identification. Running with some sort of ID is a must — especially if you have allergies or a medical conditions. In an emergency situation, this is how first responders will identify you and get a hold of your loved ones. Don’t carry your license around though, it’s too easy to lose or forget. Several companies make ID wrist bands, ankle bands, or pendants that clip on your shoe detailing your emergency info. Check out Go Sport ID or RoadID products.
2. Fluids. It’s always a good idea to carry water or a sports drink. Sure, you may not think you need it on a short run during the cooler months. But it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
3. Money. Stash a few dollars away in the insole of your shoe. If you run out of fuel mid-run and need something, you’ll have the option to purchase goods at a convenience store. If you’re on a group run and your friends decide to grab a drink after, you’ll be able to go without running home for cash first. Just make sure you check the insoles of your shoes for money before you replace them!
4. A general idea of where you’re going. I was on vacation with a group of friends and one of them announced he was heading out for an easy 4-miler. After an hour, my speedy friend wasn’t back. He ended up running 10 miles because he got lost. Instead of studying a map before his run, he just thought he’d be able to retrace his steps. He learned an important lesson that day: always know where you’re going.
5. A buddy or someone who knows where you will be. Running with a friend or two is always best — predators are much less likely to approach runners in groups. When running with someone else isn’t an option, tell someone where you will be running and what time you expect to return.
The following items can also help keep you safe, though some people would argue if they’re true necessities.
6. Phone. If you get sick or hurt, having a phone on you makes it easy to call someone for help. (Plus, running with your phone is a great way to learn all the fun details of your run from our app.) But if you’re running with a group, bringing along your phone may not be worth the trouble if you don’t have a comfortable way to carry it.
7. Self-defense items. If it’s legal in your area, pepper spray can help if you’re ever approached by a predator. Be sure to test out the product beforehand so you know how to use it in an emergency. Pepper spray or a whistle can be especially helpful to trail runners — pepper spray can scare off an animal and a whistle could help someone locate you if you get hurt.
8. Sunscreen. If you run during the daylight hours — regardless of the time of day and of the season — you need sunscreen (here’s why).