We always talk about personal safety as runners (in my case, especially as a female runner), but more and more, I’m seeing a need to be more mindful. (this post has been updated from its original version on August 12, 2020)
On Friday, September 2, 34 year old Eliza Fletcher went for a run in Memphis. Her morning workout quickly turned to horror when she was chased and grabbed, forced into a vehicle and abducted. Tragically, authorities discovered her body on Monday, almost eight miles from where she was taken. Today we have the knowledge that a mother, wife, and member of the running community is no longer here, a victim of a terrible act of brutality.
Again, we must remember that even though we SHOULDN’T HAVE to worry about our safety, we DO HAVE TO worry about our safety. Especially for women, going out for a run is charged with layers of decisions, precautions, and backup plans. And While I hated that this is our reality, it is, in fact our reality.
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).
Please stay safe.
What do you do to protect yourself when out running or cycling?
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