When the news that Eliza Fletcher was kidnapped, attacked, and killed while on a morning run broke, it rocked me. She lived in my state. She was a runner. She had kids and a husband. She ran the same Disney races that I love. How could this happen? Questions, feelings, and fears raced through my mind for days and I was glued to social media as the hunt was on for finding her. Unfortunately it didn’t end as we all wanted it to, with Eliza going home safety to her little family, but it did teach lessons, and give some reminders to me (10 tips for staying safe while running to be exact!)
Living in suburbia I often have my guard down, and don’t pay as close attention to my surroundings as I should. The week after she was found, we were at my parents house in the mountains…in the woods…where it’s quiet and secluded which I usually love. Well, I went on a run by myself and I was admittedly super spooked. I kept my head on a swivel, every stick that broke, every leaf that shuffled, I head it, and I was panicked and terrified. Yall. I HATED that I felt like that. I HATED that this evil man somehow had power over me from hundreds of miles away. I ended up going from running on the secluded wooded golf cart path to back on the road because I was that terrified. Yall. I was so angry.
I figure the best thing I could do to funnel that anger is to help others make sure this NEVER happens again. I decided to come up with a blog post of tips for staying safe on a run. I pray you won’t read this and say “well that would never happen to me,” because I am sure Eliza felt the same way. Please, please, do something to make sure you are safe when running, whether you are alone or not. Please be proactive instead of being another victim. So, here are 10 tips for staying safe while running:
1.) Wear a Defender ring: Defender Ring sent me a couple of different options to try out, and I love them! I wear one every time I run now, and even wear one when I am just out and about running errands for safety. They have rinds with “hidden”points and ones that are not (but of course not as sharp!) I have one of both. You can read more about their story here. My Minimalist Ring feature a 5 mm concealed blade weapon with sharp grinded edges and a pointed tip. I HIGHLY recommend purchasing a ring for someone you love. Would make a great gift!
2.) Carry pepper spray/mace: I have the type that can hook onto your shorts waistband so it’s easily accessible, but I know there are many different types, some made specifically for runners. The kind I have actually repels dogs without hurting them. I know several people who have been attacked by stray dogs, so that’s something else to protect against!
3.) Take a self defense class: A lot of communities will host these for free, so do some Googling and see if you can find one near you. Just learning one or two basic moves at a proficient level can be the difference in life and death.
4.) Vary your route and time of day: I know this isn’t convenient because we are all so busy, but this is just good practice for anything in life. It’s so easy to be stalked and have someone know exactly when you come and go, so if you mix things up it makes you a more difficult target.
5.) Wear headphones that DON’T cancel noise: I wear Shokz headphones, and have for years. I love that they don’t go in my ears (ear buds ALWAYS fall out of mine!) and they don’t cancel out noise so I can hear things around me, and would be able to hear if someone was approaching me. Very important!
6.) Trust your intuition: This is a big one. I would rather be wrong about something and feel silly later than be dead. If someone feels funny or “off”, trust your gut! Get away! Call the police! It’s better to be safe than sorry, and that saying rings SO true. That man that tried to talk to you, just feels off? Run. That car that keeps circling around and passing you? Run. Call the police. Don’t say “oh I’m just being paranoid.” It’s ok to be paranoid! It can save your life.
7.) Carry your phone: I know a lot of people don’t like to run with their phones because they are heavy and bulky, but it can be a great tool if you get lost, feel uncomfortable, or need to let someone know where you are or that you are hurt or scared.
8.) Carry ID: Whether it’s your license or a Road ID band, (also a great fit idea!) wear something that identifies you, if you have any allergies, or medical conditions, etc. Again, this could save your life.
9.) Let someone know where you are: I listen to a lot of true crime podcasts, and in a lot of the murders, the person went somewhere and didn’t tell anyone where they were going, so no one knew where to look. ALWAYS tell someone! Leave a note, send a text, something so that someone can look for you. A lot of apps and devices allow GPS tracking, so if you are on a run someone can know your exact route. It’s ok to be overly prepared or careful.
10.) Run with a friend: Again, I know this can be hard with busy families, but if at all possible run with a neighbor, spouse, friend, or with a running club. Run in a well lit area where there are other people. Do your part to stay safe my friends!
It’s a scary world we live in, but it should not stop us from doing the things we love. I hope you enjoyed these 10 Tips for Staying Safe While Running, and will take some of these precautions on your next run, and think of Eliza as you go.
Related: Top Tips to prevent Running Injuries