A few months ago, on an unseasonably warm winter evening, after teaching a Zumba class, I set off to do a quick tempo run. My legs were still itching to move, so I put on my highlighter pink top (so I could be seen), laced up my Tempos, and headed out, headphone free. I looped around for about 3 miles, and was passing the bus stop in front of the Y when I was quickly reminded that running alone as a woman could be dangerous. As I ran past the bus stop, I turned to look at who was sitting in it, when the folks inside, thinking I was someone else, stood up, and began to yell at me. The last thing I realized before I turned on the turbo spoilers and sprinted out of sight, is that the gentleman in the stop had gotten up, presumably to accost me for whatever it was I’d done, and as I ran out of sight, he threw his bicycle in my general direction.
When I reflected on the strange situation later, I realized, I’m not the only young woman who’s experienced some weirdness or danger on runs. Yesterday morning, two women, one city over on a morning run, were followed in a car by some men who tried to exit their vehicle, presumably, to do some harm to them.
And the absolute worst case? Meredith Emerson, a 24-year-old graduate student in Georgia, was murdered in a State Park on a hike by a man who’d made a career out of similar attacks.
It absolutely sucks, and it’s not fair, but especially as women, we have to pay special attention to take care of ourselves on our runs. It may be really tempting to put in the headphones and zone out, but it’s just not safe. Attackers are looking for that person that may be able to be caught off-guard in order to mug, rob, steal, or worst case? Rape or murder them.
So a few tips to stay safe on your run?
- Let someone know where you will be. Call your mom. Call your dad. Call your boyfriend. Text your sister. Just let someone know where you’ll be, so that if you don’t return, you don’t show up for work, even if it’s just because you’ve sprained your ankle? They’ll be able to say, “Hm, I think she said she was running!”
- Lower your earbuds! I won’t tell you not to listen to your music, because I do it. But save the zoning out for the treadmill. When you’re running around your city, it’s not the time to zone out. You should be able to hear traffic, hear folks on the sidewalk, and your ears shouldn’t ring for hours after the run.
- This stun gun.
I was given this as a gift, and it’s to the point now, that I’m just sick of hearing about folks being attacked. But if you have one? Seriously know how to use it. It’s not going to do you any good if the best you can do with it is throw it at your attacker.
- If you can help it (which I know you can’t always), but if you can? Stay home between 6pm-6am. That’s when the majority of attacks will happen.
- It may be tempting. But do not run the same route, day after day. Do. Not. Change it up. Because unfortunately people take notice. And you may get so comfy in your route that you do each day, that you’re not paying as much attention as you should.
- Cash/ID. Carry it with you.
- Use your spidey senses. If it feels wrong, it’s just wrong. You know what this means.
- And you’re going to make fun of me for this. But Oprah taught me. Never get taken to the second location. Ever. If someone is going to kill you, the second location is where it’s gonna happen. So, in the super unlikely event someone tries to force you into their vehicle? Kick, scream, yell, honk the horn, run, and do whatever you need to do to stay exactly there.
So ladies (and the guys reading this too!), I’m sorry for the dark subject matter, but it’s SO necessary, especially as more of you embark on new running journeys as it warms up. I’ll deliver a more fun post soon!