Occasionally you see news stories that get under your skin.
That’s how I’ve been feeling lately. I’ve read too many stories about runners who’ve ended up dead:.
True — the ultra runner made famous in “Born to Run.” He died while
running in New Mexico. An autopsy showed he had an unknown
- a Denver woman who was running in my neighborhood — she was hit by car while the driver was distracted on a cell phone.
- A string of young runners who died in the recent heat wave across the country .
ALL are tragic.
The two that
have rattled me the most, however, have involved foul play. They were crime cases surrounding victims Sherry Arnold and Sarah Hart.
was a mom from Montana, a local school teacher, and a runner who went out around
dusk and never came home. There are two suspect in custody in that
case. (Remember my post earlier this year, a Virtual Run for Sherry? Authorities have since found her body.)
About a month ago there was a similar crime in Kentucky. Sarah Hart
was a mother of three who was abducted and killed while out
on a morning run. Sarah had been out with her sister and turned back early by herself. She never came back.
I’m not pointing these stories out to be a Debbie Downer. Rather, my hope is to generate a productive discussion about safety, and remind all of us (not just athletes) that we have to think about running smart, not just hard.
In an ideal world, for example, I, as a female runner, would always feel
safe wherever I run, no matter where I go, but that’s simply not the way it works. I have to take some precautions and make sensible
Writing this post has been difficult for me. I started it a few weeks ago, and besides being pressed for time this summer, I have struggled with my emotions. Sherry and Sarah sounded like any one of us — everyday people and runners who were doing their own thing. Why such violence hit them, I’ll never understand.
I don’t have the answers, but here are some of my thoughts on how to protect one’s self and stay safer, whatever your situation.
1. “Rent-a-Ned” — aka, hire a personal body guard.
I’m kidding, of course!! But boy, wouldn’t that be great if you could?!
Seriously, though, use the buddy system when you can.
A few years ago I visited my cousin in Phoenix and ran trails with Ned — my cousin’s husband. He’s 6’3″ and 220 lbs. of pure muscle. It was like running with a human pit bull. Plus Ned climbed hills better than any billy goat. I told him he should start his own business: “Rent -a-Ned”
In the absence of a your own “Rent-a-Ned,” however, find a partner, find a club, or find a group to run with you when you can. There’s usually more safety in numbers.
Plus, you usually can’t beat the camaraderie.
Especially consider doing this if you will be out at odd hours or in isolating surroundings.
2. If you must go out alone, tell someone where you are going, how far you going and when to expect you home. Keep people in the loop so they watch out for you and will send out for help if you don’t come back within a reasonable amount of time.
3. Carry ID, insurance or medical data, and a cell phone if possible. I use RoadID (or other brand of ID). I have a detachable ID for my shoes. It gives my contact and medical info in case of an emergency.
4. If you are out in a remote area, running alone, or if it simply gives you peace of mind, consider carrying pepper spray.
Here are a few options to consider:
The Tornado 5-in-1 armband, $37.95. This one combines a pepper spray with an ear-piercing alarm and flashing light when activated.
5. Pay attention to your circumstance and don’t wear headphones. Yes, music keeps you going in the gym but it can be distracting when you’re outside. Save the iPod for the “dreadmill,” or indoor track; don’t use it outside or especially if you’re alone.
6. Follow your gut. Have you ever gotten the hee-bee-gee-bees and it’s saved your butt? Missed an accident by seconds when a voice in your head stops and warns you?
If you are running and you get that feeling, listen to it!! Call it karma; call it the universe; call it God or your guardian angels; call it whatever you want, but don’t ignore it!! That sixth sense is usually right!!
Got some tips you want to add to my list? Please send them in!! We can all use a little help from our friends and to watch out better for ourselves and one another.
Run long and prosper, my friends.
Above all, stay safe and well.
Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a choice. Lace up your shoes, and let’s go!!