|Part of my long run at the retention pond|
and was planning on another run there tomorrow. This isn't the first time that someone has been attacked there. Last fall, there were 2 separate incidents. All 3 victims were female "joggers" and the police think that the attacker is the same man. Luckily for the victims, in all 3 incidents, they were able to get away. Police gave the usual advice: be aware of your surroundings, don't run with headphones in, don't run alone, and don't run after dark.
I've had a few incidents while running over the years. One was at this park, a few years ago. I was running on a weekday morning, in the winter, and the path was pretty empty of people. I like to run there in the winter because the park district plows the path, and I don't have to run in the streets. There are heated bathrooms there too. But on that day, I saw a weird looking guy walking on the path. I didn't pay too much attention to him, did my laps, and headed towards home. As I ran through the nearby neighborhood, I passed the guy again, and he grabbed my shoulder. I shook him off and screamed at him to get away from him. I ran away to a nearby school, and they called the police for me. The police asked me for a description of him, and the one thing I remembered about the guy is that he had really big teeth. Meanwhile, the policeman scolded me about wearing headphones while I ran, and offered to drive me home. He made me sit in the backseat of his police car, which was really weird. Have you ever been in a police car? It was my first time, and the seat is hard plastic, really uncomfortable. He dropped me off at home, and gave me his card, telling me to call him if I remembered anything else. A few hours later he called me to tell me that they found the guy. Guess my description of the big teeth helped. Turns out it was a developmentally disabled resident of a nearby group home who wandered off and was lost. The policeman really downplayed the incident at that point. I was a little upset about that. How do they know he wasn't violent? I was even more upset when my kids came home with a "stranger danger" letter from school describing the incident. The letter portrayed me, the "jogger" as irresponsible and unaware of my surroundings because I was wearing headphones. Was that necessary?
Apparently it is a big deal. Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) lists as their #1 safety tip: Don't wear headphones. I do tend to zone out into my music. To be aware is to be safe.
|And yes, this picture is a rerun from a previous blog post.|
|Comes in pink for women joggers|
I do recommend learning some self defense moves. I took a self defense class years ago and was amazed at how effective they were when I practiced them on my 200 pound spouse. I think I need a refresher course. Runners World posted a video last spring and it looks pretty helpful:
Another safety tip is carrying your phone, which I do. Did you know that even if your phone has a locked screen, your ICE (in case of emergency info) can be accessed via your home screen? You have to set it up. Here are the links, step by step for the iPhone and the Android operating systems.
Even if you run with your phone, carry ID. Road ID makes a variety of wearable ID tags. Writing this post reminds me that I need to order one. I like the one that I put on my shoe.
Even if you use these apps, tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back. On the weekends, I tell my husband where I'm running. If I'm not back within the time frame I tell him, he calls me.
RRCA recommends varying your route. I had a running stalker once, a neighborhood dad who used to wait for me at the end of his driveway and jump in on my run. He told me he always knew when I was coming by. That really creeped me out, and I put an end to our runs together in no time. But I learned a valuable lesson, too. When I run my neighborhood 6 mile loop, I now usually reverse the route on alternating run days. I don't usually run at the same time most days, because I have to plan my runs around my work schedule. I also run to different places-the retention pond, the bike path, and that forest preserve. Just to mix it up. And to discourage any other would be stalkers.
RRCA suggests running with a partner or a dog. I could have had a partner (see the paragraph above) but I like to run alone. Running with a dog would be nice, but my cocker spaniel is 11 years old. She also likes to pull on the leash. I don't think she's the right partner for me.
|My dog does this!|
Bottom line: Be safe. Use common sense. Don't let anyone take your running away from you.