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Self-Defense Tools for Runners

Empowering you with the information and resources which will allow YOU to choose which self-defense tool(s) works best for YOU while road running or trail running (or in your everyday life).

There is alot of information floating around about the “best” self-defense tool and you may feel like you HAVE to use one specific tool.

In full transparency, the “best” tool is that one you are comfortable using/carrying.

Let's Start Here

I wish I never had to create or felt compelled to create these types of educational blogs because you deserve to go out for a road run/trail run (or even a walk around your neighborhood) and feel safe.

However (sadly), this isn’t our current reality and it breaks my heart. We can do everything right and something could still potentially happen. This needs to change. 

My goal with this blog is to provide you with a literal and figurative arsenal of resources that you can choose from based on your experience and comfort level to feel prepared.

I want you to have all the information in front of you and feel empowered in your decision.

Note: We are all INDIVIDUAL in what we are comfortable using and what does/doesn’t for with us and what’s legal in your state/country. It’s very important to check this.

I also believe certain tools are “better” in certain situations and we have to understand the repercussions (physical and legal) of certain tools.

This post is a general educational resource and not all the tools outlined are physical tools.

Additionally, PLEASE ensure if you carry any of these tools, you need to PRACTICE with them REGULARLY. We don’t want an illusion of safety — we want to feel CONFIDENT if we ever needed to use them.


Our intuition is literally designed to help keep us safe. It’s one of our most POWERFUL resources and allies that we all currently have. I am sure you’ve heard of the phrase “trust your gut”?

Well, you 1,000% should. It always knows when someone or something is off. Listen to it even if you can’t explain why something feels off.

“The human brain is never more efficient or invested than when it’s host is at risk.” -Gift of Fear

Situational Awareness

I cannot stress this one enough, stay vigilant. Being aware of our surroundings can go an INCREDIBLY long way because we may be able to notice something developing before it happens, giving us an opportunity to turn the other way or call for help.

This can look like keeping our eyes up and heads on a swivel, making eye contact with people you pass (more on this below), not having our heads too buried in our phones for long periods of time (resting, texting, etc.), and only wearing ONE headphone so you can hear what’s going on around you.


Seconds will matter when you are in a situation that is escalating or becoming potentially dangerous. If you can create space between you and the other person, that could buy you precious seconds to run away/escape, grab your self-defense tool, or call out for help. 

The goal is to always have a buffer of distance between you and the person/threat.

If someone is approaching you or are getting too close from the front, put both of your hands up and out in front of you and demand they don’t come any closer, all while slowly backing up/away (if possible). You can also cross the street if you are road running, if there is time.

If someone is behind you and closing space, you can run/walk faster or again, cross the street or take a different trail/path.

Don’t be afraid to utilize objects as physical barriers as well based on where you are; cars, benches, rocks, chained up bike, trees, etc.

Body Language/Eye Contact

A common factor in target selection is the likelihood of success.

This is why a powerful deterrent can be something as simple as walking or running confidently with a tall chest and making brief eye contact with people you pass.

Your posture and vigilance shows the potential assailant that you are paying attention and this may deter them from engaging since they are typically looking for “soft targets”

Your Voice

Be loud, firm, and speak up.

Tell the person/assailant to “BACK UP” or “LEAVE ME ALONE” with a strong voice, even if it trembles. Don’t be afraid to make a scene and be obnoxious because they don’t want the attention drawn to them which may force them to leave/leave you alone.

Your Body

If it comes down to this, there are no rules.

Fight (literally) like your life depends on it. Kicks to the groin, strikes to their nose/face, fingers in eye sockets, biting skin, etc. If you have your self-defense tool, utilize it. 

If possible, taking regular self-defense classes/seminars or practicing sports like Krav Maga or jiu-jitsu can be powerful when it comes to combative situations.

Loud Noise

Potential attackers hate noise because it draws attention.

Personal safety alarms like She’s Birdie make a VERY loud noise and are a great option.

Resqme also makes their Whistles for Life which is another option, but you will physically have to blow this one vice pulling once and activating the personal alarm.


Flashlights are one of my favorite self-defense tools because they are legal to carry everywhere as part of your EDC (everyday carry).

Dawn/dusk are optimal times to utilize your flashlight and shine it directly in someone’s eye. Remember when I talked about how seconds matter earlier?

Well, this can buy you precious seconds of time. Some even have window-breakers on the bottom or built in pepper spray (check if this is legal in your country/state) which can be used for striking.

Pepper Spray or Bear Spray

Sabre Safety or Safely Self Defense are reputable brands for pepper spray options.

Sabre offers their SMART Pepper Spray which sends a notification to emergency contacts with your location if the pepper spray is detonated. 

Important Notes: Since you will be outside (on a potentially windy day), there is a chance some of the blowback from the spray may reach you.  

It’s also INCREDIBLY important that if you choose to carry pepper spray, you practice using it and monitor its expiration date. You can purchase practice spray canisters to get comfortable!

Also, keep it in a very accessible place on your person!

If you are on trail running, bear spray can 100% also be utilized on a potential assailant. 

Pocket Knife or SOCP Dagger

Personally, this is my go-to self-defense tool and part of my EDC (everyday carry). I bring one with my on road runs, trail runs, and anytime I am out running errand or walking my dog.

This is my newest self-defense tool investment; SOCP dagger.

It’s important to clip/latch the pocket knife in a place it’s very easily accessible (front of your pack/running vest, side pocket, etc.) and again, you will want to ensure you are comfortable opening the knife QUICKLY.

If you are not comfortable with a knife, you can opt for something really sharp instead like a kubotan or the Atomic Bear Tactical Pen.


In full transparency, as someone who was a Firearms Instructor, worked at a shooting range, and has been shooting for 10+ year – I don’t recommend this tool for everyone.

Do I firmly believe in education around firearms and would LOVE to see more women comfortable handling firearms? Absolutely.

But I do not believe in blindly carrying a firearm without plenty of experience and regular practice.

This is a small niche of people who are very comfortable carrying/using one while running (and in general) and understand the legal and lethal severity of use.

Final Note

I hope this blog was valuable and allowed you to see the various self-defense tools out there for you, some of which you already have (like your intuition). 

Your safety matters and your safety is TOP priority. You hold the power to defend yourself and it’s okay if if takes you time to get comfortable using certain tools. 🧡


This blog is for informational and educational purposes only and some information may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as legal advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace legal advice for your situation or country/city/state or your personal situation. Always check with your local jurisdiction before trying or implementing any information read here.

This blog contains affiliate links. By purchasing through these links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Appreciate the support. 🙂

Meet the author

Bethany Taylor

I’m a PNW-based outdoor educator, adventure athlete, highly-caffeinated creative, all-women adventure trip host, safety advocate, and obsessed dog mom. I am here to help you chase more stoke-filled days outdoors with confidence through education and empowerment.

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