This post, on running safety tips, has been inspired by Kelly Herron’s fighting spirit during the chilling ordeal which she went through on 5 March.
Kelly was allegedly attacked in a public restroom at a Seattle park during an afternoon run. She later wrote on her Instagram the following “My biggest running nightmare became reality- 4 miles into my long run Sunday afternoon, I stopped to use the restroom and was assaulted by a man hiding in a stall (that is my GPS in red lines). I fought for my life screaming (“Not today, M**F**er!”), clawing his face, punching back, and desperately trying to escape his grip- never giving up. I was able to lock him in the bathroom until police arrived. Thankfully I just took a self-defence class offered at my work and utilized all of it. My face is stitched, my body is “Not today motherf**ker!”
My biggest running nightmare became reality- 4 miles into my long run Sunday afternoon, I stopped to use the restroom and was assaulted by a man hiding in a stall (that is my GPS in red lines). I fought for my life screaming(“Not today, M**F**er!”), clawing his face, punching back, and desperately trying to escape his grip- never giving up. I was able to lock him in the bathroom until police arrived. Thankfully I just took a self-defense class offered at my work and utilized all of it. My face is stitched, my body is bruised, but my spirit is intact. #fightingchanceseattle #ballard #runnersafety #marathontraining #womensselfdefense #myballard #fightlikeagirl #fightback #dontbeavictim #nottodaymotherfucker #youcantbreakme #instarunners #garmin #garminvivosmarthr
I do not know what I would have done if I were in her shoes. What would you have done? Do you have any self-defence skills? I have none.
Perhaps then, her disturbing experience is an opportunity for us to be more aware of the risks involved in running outside but at the same time, not leave us afraid and paranoid.
What are some of the running safety tips?
Equip yourself with a self-defence skill or tool
If you can afford it, take up self-defence classes such as martial arts and learn how to defend yourself if the need ever arises.
You could step it up further and carry mace, pepper spray, a stun gun or any other sharp object that you can use on the predator. (Remember to check with your local authority about the legality of your weapon of choice and practice how to use effectively use it).
This running safety tip is mostly useful if:
- Due to time limitations, you run alone early in the mornings or late in the evenings
- You run long distances which include isolated trails
Always run with a buddy
If you are fortunate enough to have a running buddy, then always hit the road with them.
For a lot of us, finding someone to workout with is not as easy as it sounds. I always run alone because I am yet to find someone reliable or one who shares the same passion about pounding the road regularly as I. And I know some people just prefer to fly solo on this one.
When the circumstances can’t be helped and you have to run alone, always make sure that someone is aware of your running route and has an estimate of how long it will take you to run the course. Make it a habit to check in with them as soon as you get home so that in the event that something unusual happens, they will easily know.
Change up your route
Yes, it is great to stick to a particular route that you enjoy but once in a while, change it up (let family or friends know when you do).
I was terrified about a month ago when I was running in the evening in an isolated street. A man came up behind me to hand me his business flyer. He had no sinister intentions and was just in a way trying to market his business but what scared me was that I had not heard him approaching. Afterwards, he said to me, “I always see you running on this road and the other route which you take on other days”. What if he had had other intentions? The experience was an eye-opener.
I have of course stopped using that particular route and I now run before the sun goes down.
Run in populated areas
Run in an area that has a fair amount of people. You are less likely to be attacked in an area with a good amount of human traffic than in an isolated environment. Predators thrive in places where their deeds will not leave witnesses.
Do not run with headphones on
Until recently, I had been running with music on, at full blast. The experience which I mentioned earlier about the man coming up behind me changed things for me. Because of the music, I wasn’t attentive to what was going on in my environment and didn’t hear his footsteps behind me at all.
Running with loud music on has its own merits – it puts that extra pep in your step. It also has demerits too – it lowers your sense of alertness.
I have found a balance now. I either run with the music on low volume or with just one earphone plugged in. Maybe, in the long run, I will completely wean myself off of running without someone singing in my ear.
Carry a cell phone
Cell phones are convenient in so many ways during a run.
- You can use it to place a call in an emergency
- You can install an app which will track your location and movements and relay the information to the people that you have chosen to receive it (RoadID, Glympse)
Other running safety tips include: making yourself visible by wearing reflective colours, facing oncoming traffic if you are running on the road, running with a dog, and just following your instincts if you sense any danger.
I salute Kelly Herron and other brave survivors out there.