Lately there have been a lot of runners in the news that have been attacked either by people or animals. Two such cases hit close to home for me as not too far from where I live a runner was attacked and killed by two dogs. Also not very far from me a girl walking her dog on a bike path was found killed. (Yes, I know she wasn’t running but in the grand scheme of things that doesn’t really matter.)
While I realize that the uptick in media coverage doesn’t necessarily mean that there is an increased threat to runners, that thought has done nothing to make me feel safer while out and about.
To be quite honest, I have always had two fears while running even prior to these incidents. The first, is that I am going to encounter a loose dog that will attack me and the second is that I will encounter a person that will attack me.
I have had some close encounters with dogs which is the reason that I try not to run in residential areas. As much as I love dogs, I just don’t trust dog owners to have their dogs under control and contained where they need to be.
I am happy to say that I haven’t had any close encounters with people although I have certainly encountered some creepy people while running but none of those people were ever a real threat to me.
With that being said, it would be remiss of me to believe that it could never happen to me. Because it could. I have many risk factors that could put me in harm’s way.
I am a female – As much as I wish that my gender doesn’t impact my risk, it really does. If you think otherwise, I urge you to click here to read an article called Running While Female. It is a good read and so very true (unfortunately).
I usually run alone – Chris and I sometimes run together but for the most part I run alone. It is my me time after all.
I run trails – Not often. But I do. And they are far more secluded than the bike path near my house.
I run with my iPod – I like listening to music while I run but that obviously makes me less aware of my surroundings. I do sometimes take out one ear bud and I don’t have my music blaring but it is still something to make mention of.
So what is a girl (or guy) to do? Well, I am certainly not going to stop running and I am not going to chain myself to a treadmill. Instead I am going to take steps to make myself safer while running.
Here is my plan:
1. Always carry my cell phone – I started doing this a few months ago after I was scared that I was going to get lost on the trails. I bought a FlipBelt that works perfect for carrying my phone, so much so that I don’t really even notice that it is there.
2. Keep someone in the loop – Several years ago when I first separated from B’s Dad I had a concerned friend point out that when I went running no one knew that I went or where I had gone. That was something I hadn’t thought of and although Chris and I now live together, I often go out for a run when he isn’t home. I try to remember to text him before I leave with my planned route and how many miles I plan to do but I have become a little lax in that. I need to get back in the habit of doing that consistently.
Recently I came across a website called Kitestring that acts as a personal safety service. Basically you check in with Kitestring before you head out and let it know when to expect you to report back. If you don’t report back within that allotted time frame it will notify your emergency contacts. I haven’t used it yet but it sounds like a great tool for runners.
3. Carry mace – Well first I need to buy some because evidently Amazon is not allowed to ship it to me. While thinking of the two people who I mentioned above I couldn’t help but think that I need something with me to use as a weapon if needed. As a runner what are my options really? Knife, gun, mace? Mace seems like the best choice to me. I plan to practice using it once I get it so that if I ever have to use it in a real life situation, I will be ready.
4. Take a self-defense class – I like to think that I am a badass but most men could probably over power me. B’s Karate Dojo offers self-defense classes specifically for women and I think it would be smart of me to sign up .
I should note that although these fears are very real, I am not overcome with fear every time I go for a run. Sometimes I encounter something that triggers my fears and other times the fears don’t even cross my mind. I just feel that it is important for me to be more mindful about what could happen and prepare myself accordingly.
Do you share these same fears?
What do you do to protect yourself while running?