Recent Events + More Time on Treadmill

I’m sure most of you have heard about the string of murders of female runners the last week or so. In case you haven’t, Runner’s World published an article that discusses the recent events. You can read it here

My thoughts and prayers are with these ladies and their families. My heart is breaking because of all of this.

In the wake of these events, there’s been a flurry of articles on how to increase safety. It’s easy for these articles or even friends, family or other runners to tell you to run with a friend or to always change up your route or to never run at the same time. Obviously, those all make sense.

But it’s not that easy. Some of us do not have the luxury of running throughout the day or to have running friends ready to run at all hours of the day. What do we do then?

I have a very small window when I can run in the mornings. Sure, I can run earlier, but does that increase my safety or decrease it b/c now it’s that much earlier (which = darker and less populated)? So for me, running at the same time trumps trying to alter my departure time each morning.

My route. I’ve spoken about how the road I run on is very well lite, populated (even at the early morning hours) with cars, buses and police cars. I often run the same stretch of road. Obviously this is not ideal and it would be awesome if I could change my route. But at what cost? I feel much safer to run on this road then on the backroads which are either poorly lite or not lite at all and are not very populated in the early AM hours.

Buddies. There’s not many runners who want to run in the early AM hours that I do. My friend, Jen, and I try to meet up – and we do, when we can. But it’s not every morning. We’ll likely do it more often now. Typically, it’s for the company. Now it will be for the company and safety.

I don’t have the answers. Truth is, I haven’t run outside all week. Simply because I am scared. And I hate that more than anything. I feel like what has happened has taken away such a huge outlet for me – where I can run, listen to music, dream of my day and just zone out. If/when I do run outside, I know I will be on edge for most of the run. That’s not how I want to run.

I know I will eventually head back out to the roads. I’m grateful that I can continue to run indoors when outdoors is not an option and I realize that not everyone has that option.

When I do head out, I will be taking a few measures to increase my safety as much as I can – knowing that what I already discussed, above, potentially could be increasing my risk.

  • Self defense classes: I took these classes while I was in the Army and feel that it prepared me well to defend myself. And I still remember a lot of what I was taught – but it’s been years, so I want a refresher.
  • My sister’s dog: My sister has a beautiful Bernadoodle, Trevor. Her and her family live a mile from me and we’ve spoken about me running there to pick him up and taking him with me for several miles. He’s a BIG dog, so his presence, alone, will help make me feel safe.
  • Strava’s beacon: Just the last week or so, Strava announced a new safety feature from their App called the “Beacon”. Basically what it does is send a link to a contact you designate (you have to select 1-3 contacts for each run). Your contact(s) can then track your run – your current location and will see when you stop, hit pause, end your run (as well as things like battery life). Obviously if it comes down to this, something already happened – but at least it’s a way to always have my husband have eyes somewhat on my status – even if I can’t communicate that to him. You can read more about it here. IMG_5434
  • Treadmill: There will be more treadmill runs in my future. This is the best way that I can mix up my routine. I much prefer the roads, especially when I’m doing speedwork, but I’ll take inconvenience and annoyance over safety any time.

I’d love to hear any suggestions/ideas you have on increasing safety – what you do, are planning to do or have done.

I’ll also add that I won’t be using the Instagram “story” feature anymore during my runs. Without really thinking of the consequences, I shared a couple of photos and a video one morning during a run. The day after, I realized that I was basically broadcasting to social media where I was at that very moment. Not smart at all. I have always posted on social media after my workout – so even if it shows a street or landmark, it’s after the fact – and the time I was there is not noted.

Please stay safe out there – do everything you can to mitigate the risk and increase your safety. xo

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    16 thoughts on “Recent Events + More Time on Treadmill

    1. The good news is that although these terrible things happen, they’re rare. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t gone on runs where I had a little pep in my step and had my head on a swivel. I feel safe on my routes in Manhattan – they’re very well populated, and I don’t run very early or very late. When I lived in Pennsylvania before moving to NYC, I ran a trail that didn’t have many people on it. Since I worked the evening shift, I usually ran in the late morning, so most people who were out running before work were now AT work. It was a wonderful trail to run on, but I often got nervous when I got deep in and was alone. (Especially because you run past signs for a local jail, how fun.)

      I agree that the advice we give women isn’t always practical. I wish it was easy as telling criminals to not do bad things. I’ve never taken a self-defense class (although I was in karate when I was in elementary school, but I don’t remember much), but I often wonder if I’d actually be able to defend myself. I’m sure the Army teaches you good hand to hand combat, but as a woman without much strength, I have trouble picturing myself being able to overcome an attacker. Not that it isn’t worth trying, of course.

      That’s cool to hear about Strava’s beacon – a couple years ago, I tested out a watch called Bia (which has since lost funding to continue), but they marketed themselves as a GPS watch for women. There was an SOS button that would send an alert to your designated contact if you signaled you were in trouble. It would send your location to them, which I thought was pretty cool and nice if you don’t want to run with your phone.
      Susan – Nurse on the Run recently posted..2016 NYRR Team Champs Race ReportMy Profile

      • The cool thing about self defense is that it’s not about your strength – it’s about technique. My sophomore year in college, I was in a male/female class and for the final exam, we were “attacked” by various ways/people and had to defend ourselves. We would have to close our eyes and only open them when our instructor told us. My proudest moment for that class was when a guy – close to 200 pounds “attacked” me from behind and I literally flipped him over in front of me onto his back. It’s about using technique and the force of the attacker coming at you. I’m not strong, by any means, but it was pretty amazing to see what we are capable of by learning just a few basic techniques. I’m really excited to go back to class – I think it’s helpful to know just a few moves that could potentially safe your life.
        I tested a Bia back in the day – I thought it was a great watch and a great idea and was so sad to see that it didn’t last very long.
        nycrunningmama recently posted..Racing This Weekend + Garmin Instagram Takeover!!My Profile

    2. I also have to run early morning in order to fit it in. I never run with headphones, I like a break from all the “noise” that surrounds me during the day, and I like to keep my ears open for what’s going on around me. I run in my town and there aren’t many people out in the mornings. I always run on the road, facing traffic. I somehow feel on the road it would be much harder for someone to jump out from behind a bush or something to attack. And I try to stay alert. I have used the Road ID app that has a similar function to Strava, but I hate running with my phone so I’ve stopped taking it with me. Perhaps now I’ll reconsider. Or like you, just retreat to my basement and run on my treadmill. *sigh* Thanks for the post and the inspiration!

      • During this morning’s run with Jen, we talked about running in the road – NOT on the sidewalk! For the very reasons you mentioned. I often put myself in the middle of the road int he early AM hours.

        I never ever ran with my phone until I had my first son. He was a constant nurser and I was always worried he would be hungry so I carried it whenever I went running so my husband could call if/when he was crying for more milk! The only time I don’t is when I do speedwork. But I will probably carry it at all times now. And I carry it in my hand – I tell myself that it’s practice and will make race day easier when I don’t have anything in my hands (LOL).
        Hope you have a great day – stay safe! xo
        nycrunningmama recently posted..Racing This Weekend + Garmin Instagram Takeover!!My Profile

    3. I’m lucky because I’m part of a running group. So, if I ever need company, I post on our secret Facebook page and there’s usually someone who can join me. If not, I will either hop on a treadmill or take my dog. I also try to be aware of my surroundings and not put my earbuds on (or only put it in one ear if I really want to listen to music).

    4. I’ve been thinking about this a lot too since I run quite a bit on my own every week. Fortunately, I am usually running on the seawall in Vancouver where there are always tons of runners out but I do go on the trails once in awhile too… if I get a gut feeling that it seems like a bad idea, I won’t but it’s easy to also want to feel empowered and confident and not have to worry about feeling endangered! These are great tips above, that Strava feature sounds very helpful.
      Danielle @ Wild Coast Tales recently posted..3 days on Salt Spring Island: what to see, eat and do (day 1)My Profile

    5. Great post! Totally what I’ve been thinking when reading the suggestions. The biggest one is always to just stay aware of your surroundings. Keep a earbud out. Acknowledge people and let them know you see them and won’t be startled. Look aware. Safe running!

    6. I, too, run the same route pretty much every day and at the same time early in the morning.

      One of the things that makes me feel safest is that statistically, running in the early morning is the time of day with the least violent crime. 6 am is actually the time of day with the least crime! I would NEVER run alone at 10 or 11 pm, but I have no problem running at 5 am.

      http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/offenders/qa03401.asp?qaDate=2010

      I actually run purely in residential neighborhoods — I feel safer there. I stay out of parks and places with much overgrowth and don’t run with headphones or music. I also don’t like running downtown, where people could be hiding in doorways etc… Most of the time, I run down the middle of the street — that gives me the most time to see anyone coming near me. Because I am running in residential areas, if I see anyone out, I automatically go on full alert. We live in a small town, and most of the time, I have learned to recognize/ come to know who is out that early. There have been a few times when I have seen 2 or 3 guys walking together, and I just turn right around away from them. No reason to take extra chances.

    7. I haven’t used it in a couple of years, but RoadID has an app that does something similar to the Strava beacon. You can use it to send a text to a contact that allows them to track your run. There’s also an option where the contact will be notified if you stop moving for more than 5 minutes (though I assume there’s a way to pause the activity on the app). Your post has prompted me to install the app again since I’m doing my marathon training solo very early in the morning!

    8. I haven’t been able to resume my running yet post partum due to a tight and painful pelvic floor but when I was running early hours I never ran with music on. I needed to always be aware of my surroundings!

    9. The headlines are very scary and the events themselves horrific. Each event its own unique tragedy. Philadelphia has had problems on the will used Schuylkill Trail. But please remember that these incidents are extremely rare. Runners are much more likely to be injured in traffic accidents then violent encounters. That said a running partner or group is the best protection.

    10. Thank you for this post. This morning was the first time I have felt nervous going out on my morning run. It’s dark, I moved away from my running buddy, and I tend to stick to my same route. I found myself reaching for my pepper spray when I started running towards another person who I couldn’t exactly see in the dark. He was just an elderly individual out for a walk but I’m definitely on high alert. I will be checking out the strava app.

    11. This just all makes me very sad. I can’t even enjoy our local, gorgeous trails because of jerks out there…wear blessed to have access to treadmills. But, God blessed us with breathtaking nature I dream of exploring!! Thank you for this post. So many recap what’s already out there for safety. Well intentioned I’m sure! Stay safe!
      Jess recently posted..Marathon Monday: {WK 7} Kicking Things Up a NotchMy Profile

    12. I had only heard about the homicide in MA, I had no idea there were two others. Maybe now is the time to reconsider the gym membership I’ve been toying with getting, since we don’t have a treadmill and I usually like to run alone. But in reality, I could get jumped just as easily in the gym parking lot as I could on any of my usual running routes.

      It’s not fair that, as women, we feel like constant targets for violence. Always wondering if I’m wearing too little clothing on a hot 85+ degree day run. I hate getting catcalled and whistled at from cars when I’m out and about in a pair of shorts and a tank top, and having to alter my routes in the early morning to avoid the peaceful woods I normally love to run alongside for fear of being too isolated.

      Hoping these were all very isolated incidents and it doesn’t spawn copycat attacks across the country…

    13. I am with you on all of this!! I HATE that this has happened and it sickens me. I run with others when I can or I run to a well lit, often patrolled track right near where I work. I am also looking into a self defense class but I do not like feeling so uneasy and on edge like this. I did not know about that strava feature so I’m glad you mentioned that. Praying for safety of everyone right now. Hugs!!
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    14. I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately because of what’s been in the news. I remember people asking, innocently of course, where you run because the pictures are so beautiful. It’s terrible that we, as female runners, can’t simply go out and do what we enjoy without planning and worrying. I feel robbed. I recently thought about taking advantage of our local trails…..that won’t happen now.

      As a local, I would gladly volunteer to be an extra set of eyes while you’re out there, unfortunately, you are far too fast for me so I would be pretty useless.

      Stay safe.