This morning as I sat at my computer procrastinating for the last few minutes before heading out for my run, I found myself reading the story of Sherry Arnold. Sherry was a teacher in Montana who was abducted and murdered by 2 men during her morning run a little over a year ago.
I remember hearing about this story when it first happened last year, but revisiting it today really unsettled me. I’m a nervous, sometimes even paranoid
runner person anyway and after re-reading this story I almost decided to nix my outdoors run and run on my treadmill in the safety of my own home instead.
After a few minutes of contemplation, I ultimately decided that I couldn’t let the fear control me. I searched the internet for a few minutes for some running safety tips, some I already put in practice and some were new to me.
1. Run with others whenever possible. – Safety in numbers. Of course this isn’t always feasible, but try to run with a friend or even a dog (preferably big and fierce looking) whenever possible.
2. Ditch the iPod – You don’t realize how much of your situational awareness is removed by listening to music while you run outdoors until you run without it. I used to always run with my iPod, but once I ditched it I was amazed at how much more aware of my surroundings I was.
3. Carry a Phone – I carry my phone with me on any solo runs (and usually group runs) in a SpiBelt. Its lightweight, doesn’t bounce and I barely know its there. It’s useful for calling 911 if necessary, getting help if an injury occurs or taking that spur of the moment picture.
4. Let Someone Know – Always let someone know where you are going, how long you expect to be and what you are wearing. I usually make sure the hubby knows where I’m running and when to expect me back, but if he’s out of town I text a friend … or two, or three.
5. Trust Your Gut – If something doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t. A creepy looking man, a van on the side of a secluded road, a stranger asking for directions … if anything sets off your internal alert then listen to it. Keep your distance, stay aware, change sides of the road or turn around.
6. Carry Mace – In addition to carrying my phone, I also carry pepper spray with me on my solo runs. I clip it to my SpiBelt in case of bad dogs or bad people. But be aware that it can be used against you as well, keep your distance if possible it will spray up to 10 feet.
7. Look Confident – When coming across parked cars or other people on my runs I always try to be aware of how I look. I try to keep my head up, looking forward and try to make it look like I could run all day … even if I’m at mile 12 of a run I try to make it look like I’m just getting started. I’m not tired and I’m not weak.
8. Self Defense – Consider taking a self defense class. I haven’t done this yet, but I really want to. Atleast remember Miss Congeniality and S.I.N.G. (solar plexus, instep, nose, groin).
It might be silly, but its easy to remember and it would probably work:
Happy safe running!