Safety tips for group running

On training runs you are responsible for your own safety. These tips may be useful but are in no way exhaustive.

The generic risk assessment and incident process for group runs can be accessed here

Static hazards

It is a good idea to call to the runners behind you about any hazards coming up, as you may be obstructing their view of the way ahead. Just calling, for example, a warning of any roots, holes, sticks, steps, logs, low branches, to watch your head on the bridge, sign posts, lamp posts, cars on the pavement, ice, slippery surfaces, or even just exclaiming “bollards!” may save someone from a nasty accident.

Leader: if intending to run through water, let the runners know at the beginning as this can be a problem for people with prosthetic inserts or shiny white trainers.

Moving hazards

When you hear or see a vehicle, bike or horse on the same road or path as the runners, call to your fellow runners to make them aware. Also, calling “keep right” may help.

Horses with riders: the front runner should ask the rider if it is safe to run past and the other runners should take their cue from him/her. If in doubt, walk.

Animals in fields: runners should stay in a group to help reassure those who are nervous around animals. Don’t leave stragglers on their own however brave they seem.

Golf courses: look to make sure you are not running across the path of someone about to take a shot.

Take care when crossing roads.

Do not follow fellow runners into the path of moving vehicles. The person in front of you may be thinking only of their own safety and not yours.

Darkness: be seen – wear reflective clothing, bands or jackets.

Avoid running in the road.

Run in well-lit areas with footpaths.

Losing people

Run as a group- if the running speeds within the group vary, the faster runners should run back to a distance behind the slowest runner frequently to keep the group together and keep up morale. This is good etiquette as well as being a safety measure.

Be aware of who is behind you. Don’t lose anyone.

Do not leave the group without informing someone.

If someone says they are turning back, tell the group leader at the first opportunity.

Don’t be shy about shouting to others if you are getting left behind, can’t see anyone or have hurt yourself.

Try to make sure you know who is in your group so that you do not leave anyone behind.

Try to make sure that people know you are running with them from the start, so that you are not left behind.

If you need to stop to answer a call of nature, tell someone – preferably the group leader.

If you have lost someone, run back to where they were last seen. Tell others in the group that you are running back and why. If possible take another runner with you.

Potentially dangerous animals

All dogs should be given as wide a berth as possible (like horses and cows in a field). Slow the pace, possibly to walking pace, if the passing point is narrow even when the dog is on a lead and the owner says “he wouldn’t harm you…”


Teenagers can often shout things they think are highly amusing to themselves, their friends or us. Ignore them. Do not enter into banter with them – you could make things harder for other, more vulnerable, runners on a subsequent occasion. If anything more serious happens, call the police.


Take account of the weather when choosing where to run.

Dress appropriately for the weather: wear an outer layer that you can take off and tie around your waist.

On the coldest days it can get hot running but don’t under dress. If unsure, consider whether or not you will be warm enough if you end up walking back with an injured runner.

Wear sun block when appropriate.

Take water with you as necessary.


Are you fit enough to run the target distance? Have you recently been ill? General advice is not to increase your distance by more than 10% at a time.


Wear appropriate footwear.

It’s your responsibility to run in the right group – check what pace the leader intends to run at before you start.

When running in a group, watch the runners in front but also be aware of who is behind.

Establish who has a phone with them at the outset.

If you are carrying a mobile phone, let your group know so that if an incident occurs, phoning for help can be considered as an option.

If you have a known medical condition, carry a card or bracelet with information about the condition.

If you are seriously allergic to something, e.g. nuts or bee stings, tell the people you run with just in case.

If you are an epileptic, are diabetic or have any other condition that may affect you when running, tell those that you run with.

Avoid running in the road where possible.

If you have to run in the road, where sensible to do so, remember to: follow the Highway Code and run on the right, thus facing the oncoming traffic. In winding lanes you should run on the outside of bends to maximise your visibility to oncoming traffic.

When you hear or see an approaching vehicle, bike, horse, call to your fellow runners to make them aware.

Know the location of places where you can get emergency help, e.g. hospital, fire station etc.