In April 2016, two young female joggers were brutally murdered within a week of each other. Karina Vetrano was killed while on a run near her home in Howard Beach, Queens. In the small town of Princeton, Massachusetts, Vanessa Marcotte was found strangled less than half a mile from her mother’s home. Both were assaulted by strangers. In July of the same year, Ally Bruegel of Michigan was fatally shot while out on a jog. Below are five tips to keep you safe on your runs.
1) Know Your Route. Being familiar with your route will help you identify abnormalities or deviations in what should be expected. Every environment, and every person, has what is known as a baseline of what is normal noise and behavior. Note any changes, such as a car repeatedly driving by or an unknown person or a hazard along your route. Stay alert and don’t be taken by surprise when there is a change.
2) Pay Attention to Your Surroundings. In order to identify potential danger or a hazard, you need to monitor your surroundings. It’s another way of saying keep your guard up, but it’s not about being hyper-vigilant or paranoid. Think of it as a low-level hum of mental activity, like when you look both ways before crossing the street. As you jog, don’t zone out and get lost in thought. Scan your surroundings, and be aware of who and what is around you, including behind you.
3) Listen to Your Intuition. Intuition is knowing something without knowing why. If you get an uneasy feeling about someone or something, heed that internal warning. 80% of your brain is dedicated to the subconscious and you are constantly receiving input that could alert you to danger. Do a tactical pause and ask yourself, how does my body feel? An intuitive feeling could reveal itself by an uneasy sensation in your gut or the hair on the back of your neck standing up or a lump in your throat.
4) Don’t Give Away Your Auditory Power. If you wear earbuds, you will not be able to take in sounds that may identify a danger or hazardous situation. The brain processes sound much faster than the eyes, as much as 20 to 100 times faster. Listen for noise behind you, and don’t text or chat on the phone while running. If you must wear earbuds, I suggest that you use only one earbud to give you a slightly better advantage.
5) Self-defense Device. I highly recommend the Tigerlight D.A.D. It has police grade pepper spray, a flashlight and a GPS alert system that activates when you deploy the pepper spray. It will alert your contact list that you are in danger and give them your GPS location. Most importantly, it wraps around your hand. Your body has an autonomic reaction when you are surprised, and your hands will automatically open. The Tigerlight D.A.D will remain in your hand. This device is also durable enough to be used as a bludgeon.
Use common sense and be aware of your surroundings when you run, especially if in isolated areas. Don’t let yourself be surprised by blasting music in your earbuds and missing cues from your environment. If you do notice something unexpected, stay alert and monitor whatever caught your eye. Trust your intuition and if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Consider running with the Tigerlight D.A.D. so you are never completely isolated and your contact list will be aware if something happens to you. Practice safe habits for healthy and secure runs.
Steve Kardian has spent more than thirty years as a career law enforcement officer. He is a certified New York State/FBI defensive tactics instructor and an expert on the criminal mind. Kardian is the author of The New Superpower for Women and founder of Defend University, where he trains thousands of people each year on safety and self-defense, as well as strategies and tactics uniquely tailored to women’s safety.