Oy, I hate to be a harbinger of our culture of fear, but I cannot help myself and pass on this short faux PSA a friend of mine—Kane—sent to me. Kane’s Facebook friend updated her status with the following message, and he forwarded it to me under the general feeling that one should probably pass on notes that might impact another’s well being (yes, I get that this sounds like a horrible game of telephone gone awry, but thankfully due to cut-and-paste, we’re all safe from mis-information):
FEMALE RUNNERS BEWARE!!!!!! While out running by the Nike campus today I was groped by a man on a bicycle. This guy has been around for awhile and the police still haven’t caught him.
I’m the first person to both think running is a reasonably safe activity and to hate to have to worry about my running friends, particularly in well-lit populated places; I’m also the first person to tell you that you should always have your guard up. As much as I hate to raise suspision of fellow mankind, I’m going to toss down a few reminders of how to stay safe on the road.
Eyes and Ears Akimbo!
Seriously kittens, don’t play your iPod so loudly that you can’t hear approaching footsteps. And don’t focus on the ground or your breathing or something that takes your attention away from your surroundings. There’s more to the running world than the pavement in front of you.
Respect Yourself: Protect Yourself
Bringing a small container of mace or pepper spray has a few benefits. First, it fits nicely in the palm of your hand and gives you something to fidget with. Second, if a dog or rabid animal lunges at you, you can spray them. And third, if you’re attacked or groped, you have a line of defense. Make sure you know how to use mace, and also realize that if you use it inappropriately or ineffectively, you might just anger your attacker and not ward them off.
Make Good Chocies
Look, I hate to suggest females not run at night or run alone (as I have done and do both), but pick your battles. Run at night in neighborhoods you are familiary with, and tell someone your intended path of travel. Run alone in areas you know well and that are not prone to attacks. If you find yourself on a street that looks a bit too lonely, by all means turn around.
If you can swing it, carry your cell phone. Yeah, it’s cumbersome. Yes, you might drop and break it. And of course, people ran safely without mobile phones for centuries. But holy macaroni, if you find yourself in a perilous situation, you’ll be glad you have it.