There are many reasons to take up running. It can be a great way to stay in shape, boost your mood and even commute to and from work. There’s also research to suggest that taking it outdoors can improve your mental health. But if you prefer to sweat it alone, there are some important steps you can take to stay safe on your solo run.
We know music can make runs feel easier, but don’t get so caught up in Beyoncé’s beats that you lose track of your surroundings. “Keep one of your headphones in your ear and let the other one dangle,” suggests Dan Kruy, a martial artist and trainer at Chelsea Piers in Stamford, Connecticut, who teaches runner’s safety and self-defense classes for women. “That way, you’re more aware of what’s going on around you.”
Running in the dark? Wear something reflective. A flashing light or headlamp, like the Nathan Neutron Fire ($35; amazon.com), can keep you visible and illuminate stumbling blocks in your path.
Download a safety app, like RunSafe ($1; Google Play) or Glympse (free; iTunes and Google Play), and share your location with friends or family when you head out the door. RunSafe even has a panic button you can trigger if you’re under attack or worried about your safety. Or go old school: All the running apparel from Graced By Grit, like the Delicious Half Zip top ($86; gracedbygrit.com), comes with a free safety whistle that you can blow to attract attention when you need it.
This article originally appeared in Health.com