We always talk about personal safety as runners (in my case, especially as a female runner), but until recently, I thought it was more of a passive precaution. That changed, about two weeks ago, when I witnessed my husband become the target of a road rage incident in our community. He was not at fault in the slightest – his only failing that day was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The incident was a disproportionate overreaction to a momentary pause, that led to verbal and physical threats. It never should have happened.
Everything is fine, but there was police involvement, and I realized that personal safety should never be a second thought.
Whenever I’ve talked about personal safety, it’s always in the context of an accident or an injury. I usually feel very safe when I am out and about, and I like to consider myself cautious, but that doesn’t protect me in the case of someone looking to do wrong. Violent and aggressive people are out there, especially in today’s emotionally charged times, and we all need to stay on guard.
The Usual Rules Apply
No matter what, the usual rules apply. Stay alert. Keep your phone on your person. Let someone know where you are going and when you plan to be back. Use lights and reflective gear if it’s dark. Don’t run alone in remote areas. Keep your music low so you can stay aware. These are all great for helping not get hit by a vehicle or to make sure someone knows to look for you if you suffer a collapse or injury. But let’s say you are approached, or even followed or attacked on your run, walk, or bike ride. Then what?
Sound The Alarm
If approached, I am very much in the camp of “disengage and get away.” I’m not interested in wasting any time or energy on the situation if I can help it. A personal alarm can be a great way to throw a wrench in a perp’s plans, as well as signal that you are in need of assistance.
Holding two buttons down on the sides of my iPhone will signal an Emergency SOS (and it’s pretty frightening if you’re not expecting it) and dial 911. You can also purchase something like this personal safety Birdie alarm, which you can easily carry in your hand or clipped to you, and activate (130db siren and flashing strobe light) in your time of need.
Take a Self-Defense Class
Do you know what to do if someone grabs you or gets in your space? A basic understanding of self-defense is a great thing for everyone, if you find yourself in a position to need it. Check with you local martial arts studio or police department – many of them offer self-defense classes to teach you a few basic techniques to help disarm or get you away from potential assailants.
Should you worry about things escalating, it’s always possible to carry some form of protection. Maybe it’s pepper spray or a taser. You could always run with keys between your fingers or something similar. There are also plenty of tools on the market, such as this retractable cover knife ring from Go Guarded. While I don’t love the idea of being close enough to need any kind of weapon, there is some peace of mind in being able to defend yourself if necessary.
Keep Your ID On You
In the event you do encounter an emergency situation, it’s important to have your emergency contact information readily available. Road ID is perfect for this purpose: offering wristbands, bracelets, shoelace tags, and other wearables that announce your name, an emergency contact number, and any known allergies or medical conditions. All of this is so critical to getting you the help you need as fast as possible, especially if you are in no condition to share it yourself.
Use code JENNRUNS20 to save 20% on your RoadID.com purchase (good until October 1).
Have you noticed that people are just a bit more prone to anger than normal?
What do you do to protect yourself when out running or cycling?
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