The sun is going down earlier and you may find yourself outside after dark much more frequently. As a runner, I often have to lace up after dark. While there is something calming about running in the moonlight, it can also be dangerous for many reasons. At night you are less visible to oncoming traffic, you can’t see an attacker who might be coming after you and it often is very cold. Safety should be of utmost importance at this time of year. There are a few things you should do to stay safe on an evening run.
First, invest in good reflective gear. There are a lot of products out there right now that are highly reflective. Make sure you have reflectors on your shirt, pants, shoes, etc. Also – consider running with a headlamp or flashlight. Plenty of running stores sell this equipment and are more than happy to help you find the product that suits your needs.
Second, always tell someone where you are going and when you will get back. If you don’t come back within that time frame they can come look for you. Also consider running with your cell phone so you can contact someone in case of an emergency.
Third, always bring a jacket along. Temperatures drop quickly in the evening and it’s important to have a way to stay warm, especially if you get stuck outside for longer than you planned. Tie the jacket around your waist or find a light windbreaker that rolls up tightly and is easy to carry. It won’t provide much protection from the cold, but it’s better than being caught outside with nothing to battle the elements.
Fourth, and one of the most important things you can do, invest in self-defense classes. Anything you can do to be prepared for a possible attack will help you if you ever get in this situation. I had a situation a few years ago in a store where I was being followed. The man started off innocent enough and then began asking about my family, if anyone was waiting for me at home, etc…all questions leading to a place I did not want to go. I then found him following me around the store. While nothing ended up happening, I had a feeling of fear and anxiousness that I did not like and was constantly checking my rearview mirror to make sure I wasn’t followed home. Luckily, I sensed something was out of place, did not give him any information about me and was in a public area, but had I been out running by myself the story might have ended differently. The next week I signed up for self-defense classes and teakwondo. I know that knowledge of how to defend yourself only goes so far, but whatever advantage I can give myself, I am going to take it.
The interesting thing about attacks is that those who fight back have a much better chance of escaping the situation. Whatever you do, do not go along with an attacker without putting up a fight. In my teakwondo class we learned statistics of someone who is attacked and taken. If someone takes you the statistics of coming back alive are pretty dire and if you are missing more than 24 hours you have a less than 1% chance of coming back (if my memory serves me correctly). Our instructor, a guest in the class and police officer, said the best advice he could give us was to fight back. No matter what – do not go quietly. Kick, scream, fight. I don’t care if you are in a dress, workout clothes, or Uggs like I am above. Fight like your life depends on it, because it truly does.
Whatever you do. Fight with the intent to buy yourself time to run away. Don’t expect to knock this person out, expect to knock them down or surprise them enough to run away and get to a safer area or call the police. Use your hands to punch, legs to kick and mouth to scream. Here are a few moves you can do to buy yourself time and create an escape window.
- Knee the attacker in the groin
- Use an open hand to strike up on the attackers nose
- Eye poke – use your thumb or index finger to poke into the attackers eyes ( I know it is gross, but they are attacking you, do what you can to get away)
- Stomp on their foot as hard as you can. Try to break a few bones
- Use your elbows to strike them wherever you can – face, stomach, ribs, neck
The list of moves above is far from exhaustive. Signing up for a self-defense class and practicing these moves will help you immensely. There are many other things you can do as well and a class will show you more. The important thing to remember is to not give up. Keep fighting until the attack stops or you literally can’t continue.
I don’t want to scare anyone, I just want to make sure you are all safe when running at night, or even walking to your car in a dark parking lot. Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t wear headphones or get distracted by your phone when you are alone outside. Use common sense and constantly scan the area to make sure nothing is out of place.
Happy running and stay safe out there!