We hear stories in the news all the time of runners who were abducted or assaulted. I myself have dodged a few scary situations while out on runs. Thankfully no one has tried to abduct me lately but I think that might be in part due to strategies I have implemented after one too many scary situations.
I grew up in the city and so my runs were often in the city. One day I was out on a run and a green car started following me. There were 4 males inside and a few of them leaned out the window and cat-called to me trying to get me to go closer to them. Of course I ignored them and kept running. Then I heard footsteps pounding the pavement and when I glanced behind me I saw the car doors were open and 4 men were chasing me.
Luckily for me the driver was drunk, high, or an idiot because he also jumped out of the car in order to pursue me… without putting the car in park. Once the men realized their mistake they all had to start chasing the car that was now rolling down the hill. I don’t know how their story ended because I was able to cut the corner and make it to a gas station down the street where I waited under the lights with the gas station attendant nearby until I felt comfortable going home (this was before I owned a cell phone).
1. Run against traffic. Running against traffic gives both you and cars more time to respond in the event you are coming towards each other. Running towards traffic also makes it harder for a vehicle to judge stopping distance to get you if that is their intent.
2. Don’t run with headphones. You need to be able to hear what is going on around you. If you are listening to music you may not hear the footsteps in pursuit or the heavy breathing of someone nearby. You need all of your senses to stay safe!
3. Bring your cell phone. You’ll have immediate access to 911. Plus cell phones these days have GPS trackers, which may be lifesaving.
4. Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back. Making sure someone else is aware of where you are going and when you will be back adds an extra layer of safety. They will then have a better idea of when you went missing and where you last were if you do not come back when you say you will.
5.Be aware of what is going on in a 10-foot radius. I read a book about self-defense written by a female cop. I can’t remember the name of the book or I’d tell you it, but she was a big advocate for having a 10-foot bubble and for you to be aware of everything that comes into your 10-foot bubble. She says if you don’t trust someone or if your gut is warning you about something/someone keep him or her out of your 10-foot bubble.
6.Make eye contact. This same cop taught me about making eye contact with everyone. She stressed that when you make eye contact with someone you pass you should be thinking in your head, I can identify you in a lineup. No joke, I do this every time. I give a head nod like a ‘how do you do’ to people older than me and chin up, ‘what’s up’ to people my age or younger. The importance of doing this is two fold. It makes them aware that you see them, and you’re aware of your surroundings. It also makes you come off as more confident and less of a victim.
8. Use Megan’s Law to your advantage and check out the sexual offenders that live and work in the areas you run. Unfortunately the recidivism of sexual offenders is really high. It’s better to be aware than unaware. www.nsopw.gov and www.familywatchdog.us are two websites I have used to search for sexual offenders in my area.
9. Run with friends. Friends are so great! They provide safety in numbers and fun chats along the course.
10. Take a self-defense class. Learn how to defend yourself and practice it regularly so you will be more confident in yourself and your abilities.
11. Run with personal defense tools. It never hurts to be prepared. There are lots of gadgets for sale. Do your research on what is legal where you are currently living (laws change per State/Country!). Pick one that you feel comfortable running with and then make sure you know how to use it.
12. Be alert and attentive. I memorize license plates. I look at the people I pass and try to remember scars, birthmarks, tattoos, what they were wearing, how tall they were in relation to me etc. Particularly if something seems off with them. It’s become a little bit of a game for me. I’ll quiz myself a mile after seeing them, what can I remember? I know these are the types of questions that will be asked of me by law enforcement and I want to be able to answer them if needed. That time I was chased by the occupants of the green car I totally memorized their license plate and called the police and told them about what happened and gave them the license plate number. I knew they wouldn’t do anything about what happened to me because no one actually touched me but I figured maybe I had the other half of the puzzle for someone else.
We can all never be too safe. We’re worth it to take a few extra steps for precaution! What tips would you add? Please chime in below!