Runner Safety

This week, a woman was attacked while jogging during the day on a trail close to the St. Peters Rec-Plex.  The attacker approached her from behind and shoved her to the ground.  He ultimately ran away; and she escaped with a few minor scrapes.  But the outcome could have been much worse.

Running is very popular.  In almost every city and neighborhood across the country, you can find runners out at all times of the day and night.  If hitting the pavement is your favorite form of exercise, follow these simple rules from to stay safe:

1) Do Not Run Alone

Two people are harder to control than one, so attackers are less likely to strike.  If they do, you just doubled your chance of survival. If you don’t have someone to run with, get a medium to large breed dog. Not only does it make you a less attractive target, dogs can sometimes sense danger before we can.

2) Do Not Run With Earphones

When you have loud music blaring in your ears, you can’t hear a potential attacker come up behind you and it also slows your reaction time. Most runners have the bad habit of tuning out while running.  But when you dull your senses, you are less effective in the case of a surprise attack. If you must run with music, only use one earpiece, and switch ears during your run.

3) Alter Your Route

When you run the same routes, day after day, it only makes you an easier target for stalkers.

Altering your route makes you harder to track and keeps you more alert during your run because you are navigating unfamiliar terrain.  The more alert you are, the more likely you are to escape an attack. Use websites like to find ready-made runs in your area.

4) Run Against Traffic

It makes it harder for someone to abduct you in a vehicle if you see them coming.  This also helps prevent traffic related accidents, especially if you like to run in the early morning or at dusk.

5) S-I-N-G

This stands for four vulnerable parts of a person: Solar plexus, Instep, Nose and Groin.

If you are attacked from behind self-defense experts tell you to elbow your attacker in the stomach, stomp on their instep, turn and shove the heel of your hand up their nose, then knee their groin. This sounds easier than it is, so take a self-defense class about every five years to keep the concepts fresh and your reaction time quick.

6) Carry Runner’s Mace

Mace and pepper spray are legal to carry in both Missouri and Illinois. Runner’s mace is a small can (3/4 oz.) that has a Velcro strap and fits easily around your hand or wrist. It is effective up to 8-12 feet away—depending on aim—and one burst is usually enough to stop someone.

Buy more than one can and practice using it during and after your run. Physical exertion, especially intense physical exertion, takes blood away from our brain and thus has a detrimental effect on our ability to think and aim. If you are going to carry a weapon while you run—and mace is a weapon— then you should know how to use it effectively.

Bottom line, don’t be an easy target, be aware of your surroundings, listen to your instincts and know what to do in the case of an attack.  If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Listen to your instincts – stop, look around and find the quickest exit.

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