taking charge of your personal safety

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.

personal safety

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.

personal safety
Courtesy of ShesBirdie.com

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.

personal safety

Carry Protection

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.

personal safety
Courtesy of GoGuarded.com

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).

personal safety

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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16 Responses to taking charge of your personal safety

  1. Catrina says:

    Great tips, Jenn!
    I have only recently started to wear a Road ID – after I learned about it from this blogging community.
    I think being alert and doing what you mentioned under “The Usual Rules Apply” are very helpful preventive measures to avoid dangerous situations.
    I like the idea of an alarm!

    • runswithpugs says:

      The alarm is great, if you are in area where someone will hear it. I would hope that it would scare someone off, as well.

      The blogging community is so great for learning about so many neat (and helpful) products.

  2. Great reminders! I wear a road ID and I have have a Run Angel which is a personal alarm that also sends a message to someone that you need help, along with your location. It’s sad (and scary) that so many people seem more angry these days.
    Lisa @ Mile by Mile recently posted…Want to Run Faster? How to Adjust Your TrainingMy Profile

  3. Darlene S. Cardillo says:

    I have my phone. But that’s it.

    I try to run with others or in a safe area. But you never know.

    Thanks for the tips.

  4. I am also a disengage person but heck people seem to be way more aggressive these days. We were really verbally berated by a biker a few weeks ago. I had not seen that alarm but that sounds like a great option that cannot be used against you (like pepper spray). I stick to populated places and pre covid always ran in large groups. Nice tips stay safe out there

    • runswithpugs says:

      I kind of take it for granted that I’m not an easy target because I’m bigger (5’10” and fairly solid), but so many people around here pack heat and are ruthless with vehicles, and you just don’t know. I’m hoping it will never come up, but being prepared is the smart thing to do.

  5. Shathiso says:

    I’m so sorry your husband had to go through that! How awful 🙁

    Great safety points. You’re right – I’ve also noticed that people are definitely more high strung – there’s so much added tension in the air. I have good days but I’ve also found I lose my patience a lot quicker than before.

  6. It’s so sad we have to think about these things, but great tips!
    I always run with my sister, so I have definitely taken for granted things like an ID.

  7. Yes, people’s fuses can be shorter, for sure.

    I don’t listen to music. I’ve taken self defense classes several times, but the real problem is you need to be taking them all the time.

    I also never run in the dark.

    There are routes I know that attacks have occurred on more than other routes, so I never run those routes alone.

  8. Debbie says:

    If I have to run in the dark I do carry pepper spray. I also try to stay aware. I was attacked, many years ago, when I was running very early in the morning. I managed to wrestle myself away and ran like hell. It took me a long time to even feel comfortable running in the daylight after that.

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