I much prefer running outside over hanging out on the treadmill. But every time I hear a report of someone attacked while running, a shiver goes down my spine. My husband told me to carry a weapon when I run, but I’m afraid that I wouldn’t know how to use it if the time came! He then encouraged me to take a self-defense class and I think I will look into that!
But I was really excited when I was offered the chance to have Jarrett Arthur, one of the highest ranking female Krav Maga black belt instructors in the U.S., do an interview with me to spread awareness of the launch of her new DVD, Don’t Mess With M.A.M.A. I asked if she could provide safety tips for runners to stay safe, and wow… did she deliver.
If you’re anything like me, your daily run is sacred. It’s a time to either clear you mind and stop the chatter, or to work through some deeper stuff. It’s a time to feel your feet on the ground and remind yourself how lucky you are to be able to enjoy the pleasure of moving your body. Or perhaps you haven’t yet fully discovered the joy of running and you’re on a mission to, but find the aftermath, albeit a little sweaty, to be super empowering. Whatever your motivation, whatever your goals, whatever benefits you receive, running is a very important part of a great many women’s lives.
For many of us the thought of logging miles inside on a treadmill is a special kind of torture only reserved for the most frigid of days. We take to the streets, the trails, the hills, the valleys, the woods, or the beaches to get our fix, oftentimes alone. The threat of assault for female runners is not a strange notion, and it’s not new. History has shown that violent offenders, and in particular sexual predators, take a particular liking to female runners. Here are 10 important preventative safety tips to help lessen your risk of being targeted while out for a run:
- Run during daylight hours if possible.
- If running in the dark choose well lit, well populated routes.
- Run with a companion. Another person is best, but even running with a dog helps.
- Never run with both earbuds in. Listen to music through an external speaker if possible, or insert only one earbud. (Jill’s Note: I like One Good Earbud!)
- Try to avoid ponytails. Use a side braid, or tuck hair into a hat or cap.
- Text a trusted friend or family member your route, the time you’ll be leaving, and the time you’ll be back. Just don’t forget to text them when you get home!
- When running trails try to stay in the middle of the trails and away from the edges.
- Check your surroundings. Look left, look right, frequently glance behind you.
- Wear bright colored clothing and reflective gear at night.
- A small personal safety device (mace or a stun gun) can help keep you safe.
Prevention is the best tool you have to stay safe, but even if you follow protocol to a “T” it’s still possible you’ll find yourself in a fight for your life. Here are some tips to remember if you’re being threatened or have been attacked:
-If you’re being followed don’t pretend that you don’t notice him. Make it clear that you have seen him and are aware of his presence. Don’t be afraid to make eye contact. It shows him that you are confident enough to do so, and will be able to identify him in a line up.
-Try to get to a crowded location or other runners as quickly as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask for help even if the person making you uncomfortable hasn’t actually done anything yet. Trust your gut. If it feels wrong, it probably is wrong.
-If the situation has escalated and you’re approached or stopped by someone, use strong, confident body language, get your hands up in front of your face in a “STOP” gesture, and in a clear, calm, loud voice tell him, “Stop. Don’t come any closer. Leave me alone now.”
-If you’re attacked from behind try to turn to face your attacker as quickly as possible. You want all of your weapons (hands, feet, knees, elbows, teeth, fingers, etc.) accessible.
-If you need to fight back aim for the eyes, nose, throat, and groin first. Scream actions words such as, “Help! 911! Fire! Rape! Attacker!” as loud as you can to try to alert others in the area.
Explosive strength, speed, anaerobic endurance, and core strength are the 4 best components of fitness to have on your side in a fight for your life. Add these moves into your daily workout to help strengthen your body and make it better equipped to fight back:
1) To increase explosive strength: You want strength. And not just strength, you want explosive strength. Add jump squats and jumping lunges to your workouts. Add push- ups as well, focusing on lowering slowly, then exploding up quickly.
2) To increase speed and anaerobic endurance: Being able to run 5 miles is great, but it’s not the type of endurance you need for a fight. You want to be able to maintain maximal intensity for up to a minute. Add sprint intervals into your run, starting with 15 seconds sprint, 15 seconds recovery, and working your way up to sprints of up to one minute.
3) To increase core strength: Core strength is so important for women who will likely be at a serious size disadvantage in a fight. Sit-ups are not your friend here. Front planks, side planks, hip bridges, and all of the awesome plank variations should be an integral party of your workout.
Jarrett Arthur’s passion is helping others transform through self-defense training and education. One of the highest ranking female Krav Maga black belt instructors in the U.S., Jarrett comes armed with years of teaching experience. She is the founder of M.A.M.A. Self-Defense, a system designed exclusively for moms as well as all women responsible for the care of children. Jarrett has featured as an expert on self-defense for women, parents, and children, on national television shows such as Ellen, Access Hollywood, and Good Day LA, as well as in publications such as The NY Times, and Fitness magazine.
Have you ever taken a self-defense class?