Tuesday, June 18, 2019

9 Self-Defense Weapons for Runners

Disclaimer: By discussing self-defense weapons here, I am in no way endorsing the use of any of these. This post is purely informational. Products listed are affiliate links. 

On Saturday, I took my long run to the forest preserve where so many local runners train. My running club is based there, but as I so often do, I took my time in the morning, sipping my coffee and catching up on emails and I missed the start of the group run. In the preserve is a 7.3 mile loop, which is popular with runners. I decided to run there because there are so many runners and cyclists on that loop on the weekends. I thought I'd be fine running by myself.

I finished my run feeling very strong and very happy. I had a lot of company on the path and very few stretches where I was alone. When I got in the car, I posted on Instagram and then opened up Facebook, where I saw a post from the president of our running club. He shared an incident from the morning on the very loop I had just finished running. A runner on the path was grabbed by 2 men, dragged into the woods, beat up, and robbed. He crawled out of the woods to the path where he was found by one of my fellow All Community Events ambassadors and the group she was running with. They stayed with him while they waited for first responders to help him.



It could have been me. It could have been any number of people out there running by themselves. This is the second incident in a local forest preserve this week. Earlier in the week, a woman was sexually assaulted by a man who jumped out of the woods in a different forest preserve and attacked her. While the man was caught and arrested, he posted bond and is out of jail. It's a scary time to be a runner and a woman. These two incidents are good reminders not to run alone in desolate areas as well as to remain vigilant while running.

I've written a few posts in the past about safety on the run that share tips for staying safe while running:


What would you do if you were attacked? Would you be able to break free? Run away? Should I carry a weapon when I run? What are the best weapons against an attacker while you're on the run? Obviously, avoiding a potentially dangerous situation is the best tactic. But if you're considering packing heat or carrying some sort of weapons, I wanted to share 9 possible self-defense weapons runners could consider carrying.

Guns
While I don't personally know anyone who runs with a gun, I know that there are runners who do.  I don't want to wade into the gun debate here. I will tell you that as many times as I've been told I should run with a gun, it's not something I'd be comfortable with. However, guns are legal and if a runner chooses to run with a gun, they need to make sure they know how to use them and how to carry them. I'd recommend practicing running and accessing your gun. Because otherwise, your gun could be used on you.

Taser or Stun Gun
The Vipertek VTS-989 came up on multiple websites that I reviewed. This product emits a shock that will stun your attacker for a minimum of 5 seconds, which can be enough time to get away. The Vipertek VTS-989 also has "Snatch Protection" which are 2 metal plates that give a high voltage shock should your attacker try to take it away.
Sabre Red Pepper Gel Spray
This highly recommended "police strength" pepper spray supposedly has a stream strong enough that it won't blow back at you if you spray into the wind. Have the manufacturers tested it in Chicago? If used correctly, pepper spray can be very effective on people and dogs.


Baton
Sometimes while running on the bike path, I see a woman walking, carrying a big stick. I give her a wide berth and I announce that I'm passing her because I don't want to whacked with that thing. I wouldn't want to run with a big stick, but I bet it's a pretty good defense weapon! There are a variety of batons available from keychain style to expandable. You could also carry a track relay baton, because, running. Or a baseball bat. This baton is telescoping and when you whip it, it extends from 9.5 inches to a full 26 inches. That's what she said.



Emergency Whistle
Simple and convenient, a safety whistle can be worn as a necklace while you're running. My only fear would be that an attacker could choke you with it. This one is titanium and according to the description, it is LOUD.

Go Guarded
Scratching is a great self-defense technique. This handy claw is worn on your finger like a ring. It's lightweight and since you're wearing it, it's easy to access. Rip and shred. Comes in a variety of colors.



Tiger Lady
This felt pouch is worn in your hand, much like a handheld water bottle. When you squeeze it, out pops a set of steel claws, like a cat.

BASU eAlarm Personal alarm
Simple to use, you just pull the colored portion of the device to set off the alarm. You could wear this on a zipper pull or a wrist band. Comes in a variety of colors.



Outdoor Edge Paraclaw Knife Bracelet
One of the women in my running club wears this when she runs. It looks like a bracelet until you open the clasp and there it is. Would you be able to snap this open in an attack?

Runners: Do you carry a weapon for self-defense? Would you carry any of these? /via @oldrunningmom #runchat #running 

Do you carry a weapon when you run? If so, what do you carry? Have you ever had to defend yourself while running? Would you consider using any of these weapons? I have never carried a weapon and I don't know that I will start. I still believe awareness is the best defense. But this attack really rattled me. Lots to think about.

I'm linking this post with Kim and Zenaida for Tuesday Topics.



37 comments :

  1. I used to carry mace while I ran in the Seattle area, although I stopped once we moved to a safer/smaller city. I never used it before, but I did wave it at a male runner once who followed me a little too close for comfort for a couple miles on a crowded, public trail after I passed him. I do take it with me when I visit family in the St. Louis suburbs.
    One brand did offer to send me a knife necklace contraption to wear while running and I declined because I did not feel entirely comfortable with it. Mace can be used at a distance, but a knife needs to be used up close and it looked tricky to unlock the thing, much less in a high-stress situation.
    While I don't do all my runs with my dog, he is protective of me and would probably protect in a situation. Once he started growling at someone on a run, which was unusual, so we turned around!

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    1. I"ve never carried any kind of protection on the run, but with some pretty scary incidents lately, I have been rethinking that. I've also considered getting a big dog!

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  2. I've never had to physically defend myself but I have been grabbed at, yelled at and scared from a van once (a man leaning right out snarling horrible words at me, then driving across the road I was crossing to do it again). I usually run with someone else or just on the streets or in the very busy park on my own, only on canals or traily bits with others. A sad state of affairs.

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    1. I like to run alone, so that's my dilemma! We're living in dangerous times right now.

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  3. I also think self awareness is one's best defense, as well as your gut instinct. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.

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  4. Great post! I'm thinking about getting a Run Angel, or at least a personal alarm. My worry with any kind of weapon is that I wouldn't be able to get to it if I needed it. As much as I try to be aware of my surroundings, the reality is that once I get in the running grove my mind kind of wanders off.

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    1. Bingo! That's exactly my thought. Whether you listen to music or not, it's hard to stay focused on what's going on around you when you're settling into a groove!

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  5. These are all really good choices that offer protection on the run. Since I mainly do "city running" I'm constantly surrounded by cars and people, so overall I feel pretty safe. That being said, I never run at night or too early in the morning because I'm scared of being out there when they aren't many people out.

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    1. I'm pretty comfortable running in my hood, but I do feel more isolated on the paths around me. I hate the idea of needing protection, tho.

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  6. It's scary to think about all the crazy people out there. I don't carry a weapon, but the only place I typically run alone is in our little town in broad daylight. I have a friend who carries a knife while she runs, which I think is crazy. Men are strong! They could overpower you and use a knife against you. When I ran alone in early morning darkness, I did consider buying pepper spray, but I never actually bought it. Be safe out there!

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    1. Yep, I don't carry any weapons because I don't know that I'd be able to pull them out and use them! I'm going to purchase the alarm.

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  7. I always have pepper spray on me when I run alone. That said, when a dog charged and jumped on me, I didn't think to use it. Ugh. I did knee him in the gut though and he retreated so there's that. It's very scary out there lately.

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  8. So scary! I live in the western 'burbs of Chicago and often run on the Prairie Path. Can you share the location of where all this happened, Wendy?

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    1. It was in Busse Woods; the other attack was in Poplar Creek.

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  9. Wow scary about your friend I hope he is ok. Thankfully, my biggest protection is my group. I really do feel there is strength in numbers. I worry about carrying one of those weapons and it being used against me while I try to get it out. It is a scary world sometimes

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    1. The victim of the attack wasn't my friend. But I do hope he's ok! After all, aren't all runners friends?

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  10. It's really scary out there! I run in well-traveled areas and I still carry a weapon. I've also taken self-defense classes. Thank you for publishing this - I hadn't heard of some of these, but I'm going to look into them!

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  11. What a scary thing to know that a runner was attacked at the same time you were out there!

    I liked to run with someone, and part of that reason was for protection - together we might be better able to deal with an attacker. My friend uses that personal alarm - she tested it once and it's LOUD!

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    1. I just bought the alarm--I don't think that I could carry a weapon, tho!

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  12. I don't run with any kind of protection but I have taken a self defense class. I luckily have never needed to use it, but stories like this one you shared once again give me pause. I usually run by myself, but stick to mostly main roads around my neighborhood. I think I'd go the alarm route before I'd carry a weapon.

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    1. Same. I just don't know that I'd have enough composure to pull out a weapon and use it!

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  13. I am so bothered by this in so many ways. I truly wish evil people didn't exist!! Trailing running with The Boy Dog allowed me to fun fearlessly. Our only concern was if I had enough biscuits in my pocket. Sending positive vibes and run strong folks.

    Cheers

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    1. 100% agree! I have considered getting a large dog to run with. It seems a bit ridiculous, since I live in such a populated area but it's getting scary out there!

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  14. I think I’ve told you that I was attacked many years ago and was able to fight him off. That’s why I hate to run in the dark, though I still feel fairly safe in the daylight where I live. I do carry pepper spray (the exact one you’ve got here), but again, only when I run in the very early hours. I also wouldn’t feel comfortable with a gun (and aren’t they heavy?) but that taser sounds interesting. It’s so scary to think that the paths you run regularly are not safe.

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    1. The runners here who run the forest preserve paths are all pretty shook up about the recent attacks. But the consensus is that we're still going to run there. There has been discussion about weapons, tho.

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  15. I'm glad that you were safe on that run but I'm sorry about the other runner getting attacked. It is scary these days. I own the Sabre spray but have never used it, or even taken it out of the packaging tbh. I think a whistle would be great, but I'm always worried that no one would help even I did try to get away from an attacker :(

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  16. That's so horrible when things like this happen :( I've been thinking about carrying something for protection. When I run alone I tend to run in areas with lots of people and avoid the trails unless I'm running with people. But I've had a couple close calls with dogs in my neighborhood though. I just can't decide what option would be easy enough that it wouldn't feel like a pain to carry (since I already carry a handheld water bottle) but would still be easily accessible if needed.

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    1. I bought that alarm, which isn't a weapon, but is something I'd feel comfortable using if I was in trouble. We seem to be living in a time of increasing violence. Scary.

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    2. Good idea, and it would be easy to stick it on the zipper of my water bottle pouch... do you think it would scare dogs as well? At the moment I'm more worried about dogs than people.

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  17. Now that it is light earlier in the morning, I haven't been very good about running with my pepper spray. But anything can happen at any time of the day. I like the whistle but you make a good point that the attacker might choke you with it. Sigh. Why are there so many evil people out there? Why must we be extra cautious when we are simply going out for a run?

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  18. I've never considered running with a weapon - for one thing, I'm lucky to live in a relatively safe area, but also I think I'd be acting on instinct if I was attacked, and my instincts say "run, scream, throw elbows/knees", not "open bracelet knife" or "pull taser", y'know?

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    1. I say the same thing! That's why I think if you carry a weapon, you need to practice running with it and pulling it out so it becomes second nature.

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