As a woman who runs, being scared to run is something that crosses my mind now and then. How do we stay safe as female runners? Why do I feel like every day there’s a new report out there that a woman jogger got murdered, raped, or assaulted? We can’t stop running out of the fear that the worst COULD possibly happen. Don’t run in fear.
Too Close for Comfort
It’s one thing to watch the newest report about some petite female’s remains being found a year after she was reported missing a few states away, it’s completely another when you hear someone was just raped and murdered in the park that you frequent.
My husband nonchalantly mentioned how a women was raped in the park I like to run in one day. News reports were saying it was done during the day. During the day! What?! Now, I can handle if a jogger was running at night and something happened. It’s proven more crimes and incidents of sexual assault happen at night in secluded areas. When I hear about something happening in a park, in broad daylight it tells me that that killer or rapist was really taking a risk to do what he wanted to do. This also leaves women feeling helpless because we already avoid so many things, and adhere to all the safety precautions only to be murdered in broad daylight.
Do I run at night? Not normally, no. I don’t unless it’s a pretty busy area. However, I am a fan of running on the waterfront at night. Not too late. I’m never there later then 10pm. There’s so many people out and about on the waterfront that I feel safe enough to do an hour run. It does get scary when there is absolutely no one around though.
What Goes Through My Mind
There are a few things that cross my mind in terms of safety during a run. The biggest one for me is if someone were to attack me, say, at mile 8 on a long run I wouldn’t have a defense. I think about this ALL THE TIME. I’m just burning through my energy, by mile 8 would I have enough to fight off an attacker? The fact that I have this thought is crazy! A bit sad as well. I hate that there is a fraction of time in my mind dedicated to making sure I don’t make the wrong decision when it comes to keeping myself safe.
I should share this small point of information because I feel like it does affect my thought process of running safe, and maybe has built up my anxiety over the years. I went to University at Buffalo for a bit, and every year they have the Linda Yalem Safety run, which has recently been discontinued. Linda Yalem was a jogger who was training for the NYC marathon and was murdered on a bike path nearby campus one morning. The case went unsolved for so many years until Altemio Sanchez confessed to her murder as well as 2 other women. He was known as the bike path killer.
As a runner those facts alone are absolutely terrifying. Don’t even get me started on the whole Central Park jogger. There are too many stories out there like this.
Every year the run came around, we re-lived the story of Linda. The local news, and a bunch of other campus folks would go over how to stay safe, not just while running, but just being safe out in the world as a woman.
After my thought process goes through this slim possibility of being raped or murdered, I then think about if a man ever fears for his life while running. Is there ever that moment where he says “Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t run now, it’s too dark.” Or how about: “Oh, my friend decided to flake out on me, so now I can’t train.”
How do we stay safe? Well I’m sure everyone knows the common tips:
- run in groups
- DON’T run at night
- DON’T run in secluded/isolated areas
- tell someone where you’re going to be running.
- run in well-lit areas
- DON’T use headphones
From the list above there are some reasonable things there you can do to keep yourself safe. I like to run alone, and I hate having limitations on me. The fact that I can’t simply run when and how I want is very annoying, and frustrating.
I will say that if I feel uncomfortable in any running situation, I get myself out of it. One article I read had a big factor that a lot of folks don’t talk about: Confidence.
Confidence goes a very long way. How you hold yourself, making sure you at least look like you know what you’re doing, where you’re going, and that you don’t look like a target. I know there are people out there that will debate me on this. Because let’s face it, if there is a serial killer or rapist out there near my next run there’s a big chance I wont be able to avoid whatever is coming to me.
Things I Do
Some of the things I do when I run to keep myself safe:
I switch up my runs
I have my usual paths/routes I run, but they’re so random. They’re never the same day and time, and exact route. This can help, because folks say that you can be followed for awhile until you’re actually picked as a target. Soooooo, don’t be a creature of habit? I know this can be a tough one for folks.
I don’t use noise-canceling earbuds
Now this one I feel is actually important on another level of safety dealing with vehicles, bikes, and other pedestrians. You gotta be aware of your surroundings. I love my podcast or music, but I also like to not get hit by a car. You can never completely zone out. Save that for when you’re meditating.
I track my runs/have my phone on me
I love my run data, but I also like knowing that if something does happen I can at least be found, or have something to call someone.
Run where other runners run
Now, this one might seem dumb. I like to go on some strange routes, and go running in cities I’ve never been, but I also seek out the places where I know there are going to be a bunch of other runners. Where I know I’m not gonna be the only one.
Have faith in myself and the World
I truly believe that there is something to be said about the power of the mind. If you keep thinking something is going to happen to you on a run, it will. I want to go out, have a good run, and get back home. And so far that’s happened. Outside of wildlife that is…we’ll save that topic for another post.
I also have faith in myself to project the right image. I don’t really think of myself as a victim or target. Most men are too intimidated to ask me out on a date so, do I think that one of them would think they can take me down while I’m running? I would have to say no, unless they were feeling lucky that day…or off their meds.
Let’s be honest shit is gonna happen no matter what. No matter how much we prepare, plan, or “be smart” about something. Don’t run in fear. Go out there and run girl.
Don’t run in fear.
Tell me how you stay safe while running. Tell us in the comments, or feel free to contact me here.