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An outdoor run is unquestionably one of the most effective ways to burn calories while still taking advantage of being outdoors. Not only does being outdoors enhance your fitness and physical endurance, but it is often considered a restorative space for mental health among professionals.
It can also aid in the reduction of stress, the restoration of mental exhaustion, the improvement of mood, the enhancement of self-esteem, and the enhancement of the perceived fitness.
Outdoor racing, though, has its own set of dangers. Every year, numerous athletes are wounded or killed in running-related crashes and assaults. Although it is impossible to avert a disaster, there are certain precautions you may take before leaving the house. Having a good understanding of self-defense tips, techniques, and methods will also help you relax.
According to data collected by the US Department of Labor and Statistics in 2016, running is the third most common fitness sport, with around 60 million people participating in running, jogging, or trail running. Interestingly, these figures were collected before COVID-19’s onset in 2020.
Running has grown in popularity after exercise clubs and fitness studios were temporarily closed due to the pandemic. Many individuals are running alone to adhere to social distancing rules.
To that end, it developed Runner Safety Awareness Week. Attendees hear about the dangers posed by women and BIPOC runners from safety experts and others who work with vulnerable groups. Participants can also practice self-defense tactics to keep themselves healthy while running alone.
“Running alone, particularly early in the morning or late at night,” says Honerkamp, “is a major problem for me and many of the runners I work with.” “We’ve seen a lot of younger runners since the start of COVID-19 who might not be worried about safety considerations outside pandemic concerns. A solo run may help shield you from COVID-19, but if you aren’t mindful of smart safety practices, you might be putting yourself at greater risk.”
In other words, running alone makes you more vulnerable. A lone runner could be lost in thought, overwhelmed by music, or merely focused on shape or other aspects of running. This lack of knowledge could make you a victim of serious crimes like rape or sexual harassment, as well as less serious crimes like simple assault.
What Do You Mean When You Say “Simple Assault”?
The Department of Justice defines simple assault as an attack without using a weapon that results in little or minor physical harm. However, just because there is no physical damage does not mean there is no harm.
According to figures collected by the Department of Justice, basic violence accounted for approximately 65 percent of all violent victimizations, with rape or sexual assault, kidnapping, or aggravated assault accounting for the remaining 35 percent. In 2019, there were fewer simplistic attacks than in 2018, but there were more than in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
Outdoor exercisers are concerned with more than just attack. Runners are also vulnerable to road injuries (collisions with bicycles, automobiles, or motorized scooters), slips and falls, and animal attacks.
How to Avoid Being Attacked
A wise offense is the best defense. There are steps you should take to keep yourself safe when running. Runners, walkers, and cyclists will benefit from the advice of safety consultants and police forces around the world. The majority of the suggestions are geared toward growing your exposure and awareness.
The following suggestions were gathered from police forces and public safety professionals in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Minneapolis.
- Carry a phone, but keep it tucked away and hidden.
- Carry a whistle as well as identification.
- Don’t leave the door to your home open. Keep a key in your pocket. Before you arrive at your house, make sure you have your door key.
- Wearing jewels, carrying cash, or running with other valuables insight are all bad ideas.
- If someone in a car approaches you and asks for guidance, proceed with caution. If you react, maintain a complete arm’s length distance from the vehicle.
- When running or walking, keep your back to oncoming traffic so you can see moving cars. Cyclists to ride in the same direction as the traffic.
- If you believe you are being watched, turn around and go to an open shop, a theatre, or a lighted building.
- Engage in no verbal assault. When greeting strangers, be cautious. Keep your distance and keep going when looking squarely at someone and being observant.
- Jog on a popular path, but change up your regular routes and run times.
- Make a route plan ahead of time. Know where the protected zones are along the course, like open businesses and supermarkets.
- When seeking out new routes that you are unfamiliar with, run as pairs, in a group, or with a puppy.
- Run through open areas, away from trees, abandoned vehicles, and hidden alcoves.
- Run with assurance. Have your eyes open and your head up.
- Inform a friend or family member about your plans and when you expect to return.
- Have faith in your instincts. If you have any doubts about an environment or an individual, or if you feel uncomfortable, get out of there right away.
- Wear reflective clothing so that motorists can see you.
Although most of these tips aim to avoid personal assaults, they can also be used to deter or minimize other risks, such as animal attacks or car collisions.
In the case of an injury, you are most likely to get help immediately if you have an ID, a mobile phone, and your loved ones know where you are.
What to Do If You’re Being Assaulted
When the worst-case scenario occurs and an attack occurs, there are many options for dealing with the situation. To ward off an intruder, some runners wear a self-defense tool. Others take self-defense lessons ahead of time.
While some runners often carry mace, pepper spray is perhaps the most common weapon that runners carry to defend themselves in the event of an assault.
Canisters are usually compact enough to fit in your lap, and many come with a hand strap. Most have a diameter of 10–12 feet and several explosions. It would help if you also bought trial pepper spray to try out, so you’re more comfortable in the event of an incident.
Other self-defense tools for runners are also available on the market. A device named Tigerlady, for example, is modeled after a cat’s claws and sits in your hand to target an intruder. Go Guarded is another tool worn on your finger with a serrated blade that can be revealed if necessary. Stun weapons are available to buy and carry by some runners, and some gadgets can be attached to the shoe.
Pepper spray, mace, stun guns, and other self-defense weapons that can cause injury are not available in all jurisdictions. Before buying or carrying one of these protective instruments, make sure you know the laws in your jurisdiction.
Self-Defense Programs in the Community
Taking a self-defense class has been shown in a few studies to reduce the rate of abuse, including sexual violence against women. Self-defense classes can be seen in the home, on college campuses, and in community centers.
Research conducted in the journal Violence Against Women in 2014 examined the efficacy of a 10-week, university-based, female self-defense workshop during a one-year follow-up cycle.
The report’s author tracked 117 college students who underwent self-defense instruction and compared them to 169 students who did not. A year later, the majority (but not all) of the participants completed a follow-up survey.
According to the author’s research, women who take self-defense classes are less likely to be sexually assaulted and have greater trust in their ability to combat harassment than women who have not successfully taken such a lesson.
However, a controlled trial assessing the efficacy of self-defense preparation in the event of an attack is not feasible (or ethical).
Self-defense and rape prevention training has received mixed reviews from the government. According to a survey published by the National Institute on Justice, only 14% of sexual harassment intervention services reviews yielded promising outcomes, while the remaining 80% yielded mixed results. Positive outcomes are typically characterized as a shift in attitude or a gain in information.
The paper, on the other hand, contained crucial and actionable facts. According to the report’s source, self-protective behavior greatly minimizes the likelihood of a rape being carried out in the event of an assault.
According to the Department of Justice survey, those conduct minimizes the chance of rape by more than 80% compared to non-resistance. According to victims, the most important acts are 1: Attacking or fending off their assailant 2: Getting free 3: alert the assailant verbally.
To defend themselves, runners and people from all walks of life are practicing martial arts and self-defense techniques. As a novel way to increase health, some people participate in kickboxing or martial arts courses. Others, on the other hand, are looking for new resources to add to their self-defense arsenal.
Lisa Cichowlas is a Krav Maga Level 3 Instructor. Krav Maga Detroit is owned by her and her husband, Pawel. Krav Maga is an Israeli Army self-defense system built by the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli security forces. Since the tactics can be used by anyone, regardless of age, fitness level, or strength, the fighting discipline has gained popularity in the United States.
Runners practice at Krav Maga, according to Cichowlas, to improve their self-defense skills in the event of a hostile situation.
“You never know when a pleasant evening jog could turn into a fight-or-flight scenario,” she says. Cichowlas also mentions that since the start of COVID-19, they’ve had further inquiries.
Any of the runners Cichowlas coaches can jog with a knife (such as pepper spray or a tactical key chain) for self-defense reasons, according to Cichowlas. However, she claims that if you’re ever in a war for your life, you’ll want to have choices so you can get home.
“The attitude must be the cornerstone no matter what weapon or device you have,” she says. “Krav Maga teaching excels in this field. Each lesson and drill focuses on developing a positive outlook. We hammer it out under duress so that our students don’t panic when the time comes.”
Although Cichowlas recommends taking a Krav Maga class for intensive safety training, she claims that any runner can defend themselves with a groin kick. Because you keep your distance from an attacker, the kick is successful. According to Cichowlas, you can kick hard with your shin, as if you were kicking a soccer ball.
“Imagine your leg as a personal baseball bat,” she advises.
Long Distance Running has few words for you
No runner needs to consider the risk of being attacked. The majority of runners see their time on the track as an opportunity to escape the pressures of everyday life and disengage from daily challenges. However, the fact is that any runner is at risk to a degree.
One way to ensure your protection is to take quick measures to deter an assault. Taking a self-defense class or investing in a self-defense weapon will provide additional peace of mind if you run alone, particularly early in the morning or late at night.