Running solo safely

As someone that’s not. A huge fan of treadmill running (unless I have to), being able to run outside is an absolute must. When I lived in San Diego, running at almost any time was pretty amazing, since the views (and sounds) of the ocean were plentiful. Then I moved back up to Northern California and started commuting 4 hours a day. That pretty much cut out being able to run in beautiful San Francisco before, during or after work, and in the winter, completely eliminated outdoor running.

I’ve been running sporadically on Saturday or Sunday early mornings or afternoons, depending on how blazing the sun is, around town, mainly in the surrounding neighborhoods. If listening to music, I always keep one earbud out and am constantly scanning my surroundings, trying to be as safe as possible.

At the end of July, a friend posted on Facebook that a man had been arrested on suspicion of felony battery and sexual assaults after two incidents that involved female joggers. Both of these incidents happened in the nicest, most expensive neighborhoods in our city. Even more scary? Turns out he worked at a gym in the next town over – in the kids play room!

One week later (just 2 days ago), a 16 year old girl in an unincorporated neighborhood of our city was jogging near her home (another nice area) and was attacked. He approached her from behind and asked for directions. He then attacked her> She was luckily able to get free and run away.

The ages of the attacked victims: 16, 36 and 45. The age of the man who attacked the first two women: 23. The approximate age of the man who attacked the young girl? About 18.

WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO?!

I haven’t run outside since hearing about these attacks and am honestly pretty scared.  How do I run more safely? How do I attempt to not be the next victim?

Comments (14)

  1. Heather (Where's the Beach)

    How scary. My first suggestion – ditch earbuds period. This is something I firmly believe in and it was also repeated again and again in my RRCA coaching course. Always carry mace as well and even practice pulling it out and using it. I carry it no matter if I am solo or with others. Are there any well-lit, well-traveled (cycling, running, walking) trails nearby? It sucks to be scared to go out for a run, it really does. And it’s sad that we have to even worry about such things when we’re just trying to do something we enjoy. Stay safe.
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted…Fun For Friday – My #MoveEatLive for the WeekMy Profile

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    1. happenstance13@gmail.com (Post author)

      I’m definitely not listening to any music anymore and trying to be hyper aware of my surroundings. I’m going to have to purchase mace (I keep seeing a small vendor at local races and really need to some that’s not only easy to carry while running, but easy/fast to use as well, if needed). The only trails nearby aren’t lit (since they’re in the hills). All 3 places where the ladies were attacked were in neighborhoods that were well-lit and right next to the houses! It’s crazy how brazen people can be!

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      1. Heather (Where's the Beach)

        I picked up my mace at Academy Sports and it has kind of like a clip to it so I just attach it to my spibelt. I seriously do practice grabbing for it and feeling where to put my thumb. I thought I was being silly doing that, but when I had a dog try to attack, I had that mace out lightening fast! I surprised myself. Ugh, it really is shocking to me how awful people can really be to one another. It sucks feeling scared.
        Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted…Fun For Friday – My #MoveEatLive for the WeekMy Profile

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        1. happenstance13@gmail.com (Post author)

          It is really scary! I’m going to see if I can get the mace made for runners that fits more comfortably in your hand so it’s always at the ready.

          Reply
  2. Patty @ Reach Your Peak

    omg that is so scary. I have been reading more and more about these incidents and it feels like it is happening more often…I never run on trails alone anymore – even though I really wish I could. I’m too paranoid. So scary to think that you’d think nothing of someone asking you for directions (I’d stop to help) and then you get attacked. Stay safe out there!
    Patty @ Reach Your Peak recently posted…20 Strawberry RecipesMy Profile

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    1. happenstance13@gmail.com (Post author)

      Thanks! The even scarier part is that none of the attacks were in deserted trail areas! They were all in residential areas full of houses in the daytime, in well-lit areas!

      Reply
  3. Rachel

    Oh my goodness!! This is so scary! :(
    Rachel recently posted…The Color Run SacramentoMy Profile

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  4. Christine Sells

    My mom got me a hand held stun gun kind of thing. It has a wrist string so if it gets taken away from you it can’t be used ON you. The bad thing about mase or pepper spray is it can be used on you if taken away. Highly recommend finding something like that.

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    1. happenstance13@gmail.com (Post author)

      Thanks! I’m assuming they’re legal to carry around? haha. I think I’d feel more comfortable with this than mace since it can’t be used on me, if disengaged from my wrist.

      Reply
  5. Shannon @GirlsGotSole

    How scary! It stinks runners have to be in fear while doing what they love. I always run with my group now. I feel completely safe with them and we are always together, no one is every left alone.

    Maybe look for a running buddy or group in your area? I’m sorry you are dealing with this. Stay safe!
    Shannon @GirlsGotSole recently posted…The Weekly Chase #27My Profile

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    1. happenstance13@gmail.com (Post author)

      Shannon, I would LOVE to run with a run group! Unfortunately with the 4 hours of commuting I do per day, it pretty much eliminates all running groups in the area :(

      Reply
  6. Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb

    Scary stuff for sure. I stay away from music too and always have pepper spray in my hand. When it’s dark I carry a multipurpose light stick the doubles as a small flashlight and whistle. It’s tough because we don’t want the bad guys to ‘win’ so it’s important to stick to our guns and keep running….but who wouldn’t be scared??
    Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb recently posted…Everything Happens For A ReasonMy Profile

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  7. Monica

    When I run at 5am on the week days I stick to the path around Lake Merritt with no music. I also try and be pretty observant there’s usually a handful of people by 5:30am with dogs out so I feel safe. For longer runs, I need my musica so it sucks but I only do them on the weekends and in the later hours 8am or later – so many people are out on the lake that I feel super duper safe.

    I don’t do much trail running but when I lived in SF, I would run alone all the time on the street but so many people are out & about that I didn’t worry too much. I think that trail running or in the quiet suburbs – there’s just less people out so there’s a little bit more risk.

    I’d like to hear more though about to learning to run w/ mace or practicing with it, if you start doing that. Sucks, chica but it’s smart to keep on top of what’s happening in your community.

    Reply
    1. happenstance13@gmail.com (Post author)

      I’m going to start looking into mace or a taser for runners (hopefully with a pin so that it can’t be used against me!), and I’ll post more once I figure it all out :)

      Reply

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