After I escaped an attack on a night run, these are my tips for staying safe.
By Lori Adams
I was attacked while running.
A long time ago I was out for a run after work, enjoying the solitude of a crisp fall night. Daylight saving time had just ended, so it was pitch black. Without warning, or any menacing-looking characters in sight, my attacker grabbed me from behind and attempted to pull me into the darkness of a golf course by the side of the busy suburban road I’d been running along. With his hands around me I screamed, kicked, and violently scratched with all my might. Somehow I managed to spin myself around, catching a clear look at his face as I wriggled out of his grip to run away—fast. I kept running until I reached home and called the police.
“Do you know this guy?” the officer asked me as I viewed mugshots at the police headquarters. I didn’t, and the attacker wasn’t among the officer’s photos, but to this day I vividly remember his face.
Prior to this experience I had participated in a self defense class in which a safety expert recommended that in the event of an assault you should attempt to scream and run into the middle of the street—whatever it takes to draw attention to the situation. The advicecame from the hopes that such actions would be more likely to scare the attacker into running off, or someone might hear the ruckus and help. In my case, survival instincts kicked in as I lashed out with my feet and fists, even though, chillingly, cars whizzed by and no one even noticed that I was in peril.
So what’s a runner to do? The harsh reality is that safety isn’t automatic just because you run in a safe neighborhood at home or work. Try to erase the “it-could-never-happen-to-me” attitude and take these steps towards self-preservation on the roads:
1. Run with a partner when you can. There is safety in numbers.
2. Run with a dog, preferably one that is larger than my five pound beast, Louie.
3. Ditch the headphones or wear only one earbud and keep the volume low–you want to be able to hear trouble approaching.
4. If it’s legal in your state, consider carrying self-defense spray clipped in an accessible place, like the front of an inside pocket. After the incident, my husband bought me a bottle of Mace. I carried it faithfully until I tripped on some ice and the bottle flew underneath a car.
5. Carry a phone and enable the “medical ID” function or, if not available, make sure the passcode is off. A local biker was hit by a car but rescuers couldn’t access his smartphone to call his contacts for identification.
6. Wear a Road ID. Always carry identification in case of emergency.
7. Wear reflective gear and a headlamp when running in the dark.
8. Never ignore your instincts–ever. If you feel something isn’t right forget your normal route and take off for a busier area.
9. Ideally run where there are other people and activities around you.
10. Be sure to vary your routes and the exact time you run alone, because you never know who is watching.
11. No matter how confident you might look and feel, be aware of your surroundings.
Every run is a gift. Count your blessings and be safeout there.