Self defense for runners is a little different because runners are generally more focused on running, not on who is sneaking up behind them or lurking in the shadows. If you’re a runner, you know self defense and safety are very important, especially when running early in the morning or late at night. I have personally experienced the necessity, so here are my tips and my story.
A few weeks ago I decided to go running at the park late on a Sunday night. Usually there are still soccer games going on or at least other runners even late, but not this time. I wanted to try out a new mission on my zombies, run! app for my phone, so I had at least one earbud in. After a few laps around the track a guy approached me and started up a conversation. Ordinarily this would be nothing new, but his questions weren’t conversational, they were interrogative. I began to dodge the questions with vague answers because I know social engineering and I figured he might be trying to get information from me, since he asked me where I lived.
I ended the conversation by saying I wanted to finish my run so he went to sit at the bleachers. Already disconcerted I decided to do another lap or two and get the hell out of there. The track I run at is next to an emissions plant, which was definitely closed at the time. Nevertheless I saw another individual sneaking about on the premises. By now I had pretty much decided that I was now indeed in danger so I went back to get my water bottle and leave.
The first guy called me back over. I figured he might even be a little bit mentally handicapped so for whatever reason I walked over. Of course, I should have know what was coming… He was, for lack of a better word, touching himself openly and basically invited me to join. Luckily I had brought along the pepper spray I had picked up because of a recommendation from Jack Spirko of the Survival Podcast.
Out comes the pepper spray and I backed off quickly. I called the police, but they took 20 minutes to arrive and even then weren’t enthusiastic about going after him. It looked to me like they didn’t even make it to the track before turning around.
The moral of the story is that you should be aware, and be prepared to deal with any kind of threat. Here are some tips to help you do that.
Self Defense Tips for Runners
- Be Aware. Personal awareness is one of the best self defense tips of all. If you are aware of a threat early you can react to it or avoid it entirely. Don’t wear headphones if you’re in a seedy, dark, or other dangerous area. I tend to minimize their use unless there are a bunch of fellow runners around and I’m away from dangers such as cars.
- Carry Pepper Spray. At all times when running you should be armed with something, and pepper spray is most likely legal in your area. (Be sure to check your local laws, this is not legal advice). Other options include pocket knives and concealed firearms, again depending on what is legal in your area.
- Carry a Tactical Light at Night. A tactical light is generally much brighter than a regular flashlight and if it’s dark, you can use it to temporarily blind an attacker and light your way to escape.
- Don’t Carry a Lot of Cash. In case you end up getting mugged, you may want to carry less cash than usual on a run or create a decoy wallet.
Hopefully these tips will help keep you or someone you love safe on your next run.