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I am a very cautious 20-something woman for the most part. I try to avoid situations that would put me a risk. I usually jog in daylight or where there are people/cars. If I go when no one is around I try and text my brother a mile away to tell him I am going for X amount of time and to expect to hear back. So tonight..... I had a ton of things to do after work. And I still managed to go for my 25 minutes (week 7 of C25k). I live in a decent neighborhood, with some sidewalks, a jr high, multiple churches, a day care around the corner, lots of kids, etc. etc. I have never felt afraid.... but tonight I went around 8:30 (I saw another jogger right before I went) and it was dark. I texted my brother. I stayed on streets with a sufficent amount of lighting. I was like 5 minutes into it (although I was having an off day and debating about finishing- a little stiff), jogging around a curve on a lit street. Suddenly to my left in a yard I hear the hedges shaking and this random guy came out of a dark yard walking. It freaked me out, so I crossed the road still jogging, but by the time I got on the right side I was picking up the pace, to the point I busted into a sprint. Maybe I am paranoid, but always better safe than sorry. Plus- I just thought it was so sketchy. Anyway, I got aways down before my out-of-shape butt slowed and I waited for my heart to explode (can't outrun him if I am laying in the road). I then picked the nearest, busiest street to continue down- where I reached a main road and went down that one till I got closer to my house. I saw another person stopped in the middle of the sidewalk about 3 blocks down so I turned, only to cross paths with a slow-moving cab coming out of an alley. By this time I was freaking out in my head. I jogged a few blocks closer to my house, saying I would stop (about 18 out of 25 minutes) but I didn't want to quit. I ended up passing a house with a party full of kids running around. So I kept going, but just jogged in the block area of the children because there were several parents too. I saw a random car stop and turn around which got me suspicous too- turns out it was a party guest. But i just felt so spooked tonight. A woman randomly got snatched from her house today- it was all over the news- about an hour south of here. I was already thinking about the GA hiker from New Years- she was a tae kwon do champ and got butchered. I just was freaked out.
So my (LONG email) question to anyone- is how do you stay safe and protect yourself? I don't know about carrying mace or whatever... I hate even carrying a key. Do you ever freak out about the "what ifs" or just random people? Any advice? I would definitely go down fighting but I would rather not have to anyway.
On a lighter note... I finally got home after a short cool down. Obviously my mind was running. I walked passed my car and the neighbor's cat (I love animals, so not a big deal!) was chilling on my hood. But I just saw him out of the corner of my eye and I spazzed out. So did he- only he couldn't get traction as he was fleeing my hood. So my 7-year-old car now has cat scratches down the hood! I am not complaining though- it was better than being the next headline
My best advice is to get a running buddy if you don't feel safe. Make your brother do a little exersize with you. If you happen to live in Minneapolis I'd offer up my running buddy services, but that is your best bet. Stay safe!!!
Living in a "safe" neighborhood is no guarantee. I live in a safe neighborhood and one time I was out running on the sidewalk and a car slowed down and started moving slowly along side me. At first I thought he was going to stop and ask directions, but instead he started talking, would I like a lift, why didn't I get inot his car and he would take me for a good time, that kind of stuff. Fortunately I was almost to a corner and when I turned there was another runner coming in the opposite direction and the car took off.
There have been a couple of times when there have been series of assaults on women joggers in two different Boston suburbs (again considered among the safest) and the advice given by the police was:
1. Run with others, not alone
2. If alone, stay in well lit areas where there are lots of other people around.
3. No headphones - whether you can hear or not, they make you appear to be an easier target.
4. Carrying a cell phone is a good idea, but you can't count on it to get you help quickly enough to prevent an attack.
Can you find a running partner? How about your brother? My husband and I go at different speeds so we don't run together, but we do most of our running at a local park mile loop only in daylight where there are usually plenty of people (and even so there was an attempted abduction last year). We run in opposite directions so that we see each other every 5 minutes or so, and when it's starting to get dark we will run together.
There are other alternatives, like joining a health club to use a treadmill instead of running outside in the dark. I do that if I can't run in daylight.
This has nothing to do with attackers but as a runner I picked up a RoadID http://www.roadid.com/. Being a guy my concerns are more about the secret society of car drivers who are out for hitting runners. With a road ID if anything does happen to you the first responders would know who you are. Take care on the road and I don't think you are out a place being cautious.
You need a running buddy if you want to feel safer.
You can wear brighter clothing so as to make it easier to be seen if something does happen, wearing dark outfits while running at night doesn't aid the person who might be able to help you find you if he hears you yelling for help.
Mace and personal defense devices are always a possibility, they are very small now, even the size of a key and can easily clip to the side of your clothing for easy access and no interferance with your running form, ect.
Letting people know where you are is a must. You do that already and that is great, so don't slack in that category.
Always run during the day, if it's not conveniant to run during the day then perhaps you can sign up for a gym membership? It's a lot safer than running or trying to get a workout during the night in a neighborhood.
Why not run around similar places continuously so you don't have to fear being away from help? I know of people who drive out to local parks where people are constantly playing tennis and soccer and run around the fields while a lot of other people are present.. or you can run around your block continuously, never being far from home..
However, nothing beats gut instinct and if you feel even a slight hint that something may be sketchy or wrong, assume the worst in the situation and head home or go to a local stop such as a store or neighbors house, instinct beats any preventative method of safety..
Just some tips.
I was feeling your anxiety just reading your post. I think you received some excellent advice here. I think just having a cell phone is a false sence of security--unless you plan on hitting someone with it.
Excellent advice everyone. Thanks for taking an interest in the issue. I'm definitely thinking about getting a Road Id... those seem pretty cool. It's unfortunate that this is the world we live in- where you have to think about who is out there while you are exercising. I can't wait til it gets lighter out too. I guess I will probably end up going jogging at the local jog paths where people are, because I know my brother is never going to get off the couch Stay safe out there!
Ecuturtle, The RoadID I would not consider safety against attackers but you never know when you will get hit by a car, pass out, or whatever would make you unconscious. It is now so much a part of my run that I wore it to a road race recently because it is just part of my running gear. Honestly, I thought it was kind of expensive until I received it in the mail. I found the quality made it worth the price.