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Runner Safety – Eliza Fletcher

On September 2, 2022, shortly after 4 am, Eliza Fletcher, a wife, mother, and teacher set out for her morning run but never returned. She was abducted and murdered, all while simply trying to enjoy her early morning run. While runners’ safety should always be top of mind, when something tragic like this happens (and it happens way too often) it brings the topic back into the headlines.

There are many different forms of protection that runners can use to keep themselves safe these days. These range from cheap items to help keep would-be attackers away, and others are self-defense items, used only in the worst-case scenarios. These range from a simple whistle or flashing light, to tasers or small knives.

GPS Tracking

One of the most significant technological advantages over recent years is GPS trackers, and how small they’ve become. Because of this, they are a great form of personal protection if something ever were to happen to you. Running watches, cell phones, tracking-specific technology (such as Garmin inReach), and even Apple Airtags are all great options for keeping your loved ones up to date on your current location. These may not keep you safe in the moment, but they will continue to update your location (as long as the attacker doesn’t disable them).

Alert Devices

Items such as whistles and alarms can be effective forms of protection in certain situations. They rely on other people around you to help you in the event of an emergency, so they aren’t always the best option. If you frequently run in areas where there aren’t many other people, these may not be the best choice for you. If you are in populated areas, drawing everyone’s attention to you can often be enough to discourage a possible attacker.

Personal Protection Devices

These days there are many different options on the market for protecting yourself if it comes right down to it. Things such as dog or pepper spray, small tasers, knives, and other such items are all great choices. The only thing to remember with devices such as these is you usually need to be in very close proximity to your attacker. These are often seen as a “worst case scenario” item and hopefully, they never have to be used.

Being Visible

Another aspect of staying safe while running is being seen, especially if you run in the early mornings or late evenings. Light vests, headlamps, and reflective vests and clothing all ensure that cars and pedestrians will see you coming.

Staying Aware of What’s Around You

Being aware and in the moment is probably the number one way to stay safe while running. Knowing what is going on around you, and paying attention to anything that seems suspicious is critical for your safety. While it may seem like a great idea to put both headphones in and crank up your favorite song, doing so puts you at risk as it takes away a crucial sense. If you listen to music, try to use bone conduction earphones (such as Aftershox), or just put your earbud in one ear. This way you can still hear everything that is going on around you, while still enjoying your favorite music.

The most important thing to remember with your choice of protection is that you have to have it on you to use it. It is much better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Also, check your local laws on what is or isn’t legal in your country or region. Some items listed above may not be legal or available for purchase in your country.