Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Be Safe

 Last night my sister was followed by 3 vehicles, all with single occupant males. She lives in a rural area and the men doing the cat calls were very possibly migrant workers with no ties to the when one turned in front of her to stop and stare she was justifiably scared. She made it home safe, but lets discuss some of the things that keep runners safe.

Option #1 - Get a Running Buddy
 The most often advice I am given (by non-runners) is to find a running buddy, safety in numbers, and this is true.  Let's briefly look at why this is NOT a practical solution.
  1.  Schedules rarely line up.
  2.  You often have to drive, ruining the convenience of a step out the door and go workout.
  3.  Rarely do you find someone that runs your pace.
  4.  How do you meditate with someone chatting in your ear?

Option #2 - Get a Canine Running Buddy
If you are a dog person, this is a great option!!  Dogs of any size do deter creepers and home invaders.

I tried this one, twice!  First time my beautiful dog got hit by a car while I was down with the flu...that was terribly tragic and turned me off of pet ownership for several years.
The second time we adopted an abandoned dog, he was wonderful, until after 1.5 miles it became obvious that due to hip dysplasia, he would simply be a backyard ornament and snuggle buddy for my kids.  I must give him some credit though, he did try to protect me...from a skunk...15quarts of tomatoes and 2 gallons of vinegar later he was pink, the lawn where we bathed him on was dead, but we both smelled better!

Option #3 - BE A Defensive Runner - my choice

1. BE CONFIDENT-  if someone is creeping you out, stare them down, let them know you are memorizing their features/vehicle so that you are able to identify them to the police later, and that you are not a weak target, you will fight back.  Creepers want weak victims, this is a proven fact.

2.  BE AWARE - eliminate the creepers chance to take you by surprise.  Notice your surroundings, know the regulars on the trails & routes you run, notice things about them and their habits.  Meet friendly dogs, learn names, wave to neighbors mowing their lawns.  Knowing who to expect and letting obvious non-creepers (the soccer mom with a double jogging stroller and a kid trailing on a bike) that you are a non-creeper plays off the safety in numbers rule.

3.  BE SMART -  Run where people can see you, creepers don't like witnesses, unless they plan to kill said witness in which case they are super creepers.  Save isolated trail runs around a frozen lake for a day when meeting up  with a buddy actually works.

4.  BE UNPREDICTABLE - If you have an unknown stalker along your daily route they will know when you are coming.  Run different routes every day and if possible run at different times of the day.

5.  BE A PACKER - If you can, carry a phone or pepper spray with you.  I would do this on my long runs as a phone fits easily in my water carrier (along with gels and toilet paper). 

Pepper Spray (also known as OC in the coptalk world) is made with the oil of capsicum (peppers) and is highly effective, getting it anywhere near a persons face will basically drop them, and because its oil it takes a while to wash off .  The caveat to this is it seems that individuals with darker complexions are less affected by the spray, but spray away, on people or vehicles, because it also has a dye added to it that is hard to wash off and only visible under ultra violet light, making attackers easier to identify. 
I carried this with me until my sister left for college so I gave it to her and have yet to replace it, but I think I will, its light weight and can be clipped to a waistband.  I live in a relatively safe area, but have used it to spray scary dogs and on one occasion a fence post that I mistook for a deer  (for the record, deer are MEAN, fence posts are not).

IF this fails...
If you are attacked, FIGHT BACK!!!  There was a bad idea floating for a while that if you cooperated you are less likely to be killed.  This is FALSE, if they are going to kill you they are going to kill you, some creepers are just creepers and some are murderers, so fight back as all of them are weak.
Tips of the fight:
  • Upward thrust of palm to the nose.
  • Bite off an ear, not bite their ears, BITE THE LOBE CLEAN OFF (surprising how easily this is done).
  • Scrape the side of your shoe down their shin.
  • Knee to the groin, picture your knee relocating their junk to their tailbone, go all the way through.
  • Gouge their eyes out, don't poke their eyes, actually GOUGE THEM OUT.
  • Try to get their DNA on you and yours on them.  Scratching them and getting skin under your nails is effective.  This way you can be a witness against them and get the creeper off the streets.

And on that friendly note:
  Here are some places to buy OC online, I have also seen it at local sporting goods stores.

(I haven't ordered my new one yet, the above links are just from a google search)

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