Before looking at some safety tips, let’s take a look at the possible opportunities from an attacker’s perspective:
- His victims are alone, running through isolated areas that provide him with cover (trees, buildings, brush)
- His victims are usually unarmed and untrained- most people do not have any self-defense training or carry anything that can be used as a weapon that they know how to access and use
- His victims run at night or early morning-when it is cooler and darker outside
- His victims wear headphones so he knows they’re not likely to hear him approach
You should be able to feel safe enough to run by yourself without having to worry about something bad happening to you. Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in, even in safe places. You can do little to make the world safer on your own, but you can do a lot to make yourself safer in an unsafe world.
If a criminal has the intent to abduct someone and take them to an isolated area to rape or murder them, what could possibly make it easier for him than a woman running by herself when it’s dark out, through an isolated area with headphones on?
So how can you avoid this? You’re not going to like the answer.
Do not fit the perfect victim profile of running alone, unarmed and untrained, wearing headphones, especially in isolated areas at night.
The best protection is to be more proactive with your planning by running with a friend or acquaintance.
Don’t have any friends? Make a friend. Go to a local running club meet up and run with a group. Local running shoe stores like Pacers have groups that go out on evening runs together. If you like the group find somebody in that group that runs as good or poorly as you do and get their contact information and run with them.
“But that’s inconvenient! I don’t want to have to text somebody and plan to run with them.”
Running with someone is the safest option and there is no easy substitute for accepting responsibility for your own personal safety. Something bad is more likely to happen to you when you are by yourself because you are simply an easier target.
Ultimately it comes down to the cost-benefit analysis you make with any life choice. What level of risk are you willing accept for the decisions you make?
Assuming you are running to improve your health, doesn’t it just make sense to take the ultimate step in protecting your health by taking precautions that promote your own safety?
If you are still willing to risk running by yourself these are some considerations
- Ear-buds- consider wearing only one ear bud so that you can still hear background noise- on several occasions while running I have almost slugged someone who brushed up behind me briskly because it startled me since I did not hear them. This was why I switched to 1-bud in.
- Do you run ‘till you flop on the ground like a dying fish? I surely don’t. I always leave enough in the tank to still be able to move explosively. On a side note, some great self-defense drills involve sprinting, then striking or doing your skills while fatigued or with a spiked heart-rate
- If you carry a weapon while running- pepper spray, knife, etc., make sure it is something that is actually useful and carried in a manner that you can access it easily. Knowing how to access it is one level of understanding; having practice and drilling accessing it under stress is on a completely higher level. Side note: if you do choose to carry something that can be used as a weapon- know that it could be used against you, particularly if you pull the weapon and are not willing and capable of using it.
- Get some hands-on self-defense training and an understanding of how to defend the most common types of attacks.
No matter how many people get attacked while running trails, there is logistically, financially and physically no possible way to place a police officer on every mile of every trail to ensure the safety of people running alone, so take ownership of your personal safety by being street smart and reducing opportunities for an attack when you are at higher risk can go a long ways to help keep you safe, as well as help to put those who care about you at ease.
Train smart and stay safe,
NOVA Self Defense