Tell Me Tuesday: Staying Safe

Caroline, of Canadian Runner in Exile, was one of the countless mother runners who honored Sherry's life by running for her after her death was confirmed; Caroline dedicated her half-marathon on Sunday to Sherry.

A female runner was found dead in the North End of Central Park when I lived in New York City. I had recently started to think of myself as a runner, and when I didn't start my day with soothing, exhausting miles in Central Park, I was at loose ends. The news made me sad, rattled, and most of all angry; like many 24-year-olds, I thought of it on selfish terms. I couldn't accept the idea of running being taken away from me.

So I did something that was totally stupid: The morning after I heard the news, I left my apartment on the Upper West Side at 6 a.m. on a Saturday, blaring my Madonna mix on my Walkman. I had to own my route and feel strong and invincible; if I stopped running, living in NYC would not have been tolerable.

The death of Sherry Arnold shook me--and everybody else--to the core for so many reasons: We can all put ourselves in her mother runner shoes, and the idea of a motherless family is just too much to fathom. More importantly, now that my perspective has (thankfully) widened a bit, I don't want her story to deter mother runners to start or continue running. The idea of that makes me as angry as the situation in Central Park did about 15 years ago.

I do want you all to be as safe as possible, though, so I want to review some Running Safety 101:

  • Cover your tracks. Tell somebody where you are going: your exact route, when you expect to be home. If your husband has the groggy drools going on when you leave in the morning, write him a note to back up your verbal message. Or text somebody with the same info, and tell them if they don't get another text from you by xx:xx time to please call you. I always tell Grant if I'm not home without 10 minutes of when I should be, come look for me.
  • Get a running buddy. Seriously, safety comes in pairs.
  • Opt for boredom and safety over exotic routes. If you have to do tedious one-mile laps in your 'hood with street lights instead of an unlit park because it's pitch black at 5:30, so be it.
  • Be aware. Yes, blaring Beyonce's Run the World (Girls) gets you pumped up, but her voice takes away one of your vital senses: hearing. If you're a gotta-have-tunes girl, try to run with just one earbud in. Keep the volume low enough that you can hear yourself talk at a normal voice. Keep your head and eyes up; when you get all slumped and downward gazing, you look more like prey than predator.
  • Carry your phone and some form of ID, like a Road ID, and anything else that makes you feel safe, like pepper spray or mace. I don't carry any weapon-like things because I doubt my ability to use them if the situation would arise.  I'm just not that coordinated and bold.
  • Use your internal compass. We were talking about this over dinner the other night with three mother runners--Kathy, Laura, and Terzah--and Kathy mentioned she'd never approach a stopped car. I totally get where she's coming from, but if it's a woman behind a minivan wheel with two kids in the back, I feel okay helping her with directions. You may not; again, do what feels right to you.
  • Don't be shy. If you feel threatened, seek safety however you can.  Ask a fellow runner if you can run with them until you're in the clear. Knock on the door of a house you don't know. Yell for help; make a raucous.
  • Take a self-defense class and up your confidence.
  • If a car seems suspect--they're driving slowly by you or passing by you multiple times--make eye contact with the driver and let them see you're alert and paying attention. Memorize their license plate, then get to a safe place. (That's another Kathy tip.)
  • Final Kathy tip: She says hi to everybody she passes; she wants them to remember her face and her hair color if the need arises.

Do everything you can to stay safe, then go and enjoy your run. You still run to feel good, to feel powerful, to feel alive, vibrant, and strong. You run because 99% of the world is good, and because you can't control everything.

Now you tell us: What do you do to stay safe on your run?

Also, wanted to let you all know that we've been in touch with Sherry's cousin, Beth from Shut Up and Run, about raising money in Sherry's honor. Once we get those details ironed out, we'll spread them far and wide.

74 responses to “Tell Me Tuesday: Staying Safe

  1. I love how you ended this post – with why we run and why we should still run. You cannot hide from life.

    I agree with so many of the tips – although struggle to give up my music. I do however choose the more ‘boring’ route with heavy traffic and street lights and only run my favorite trails if it’s a busy part of the day on the weekend when it’s likely I’ll see many others on the same path. It’s sad we have to think of such things – but just realistic.

    I also always have my phone on me and GPS turned on – my parents have a link to my phone to locate it if ever need be.

  2. There is a very popular cross country trail adjacent to a major university in my area. At the time, I had blinking lights on the armband of my mp3 player and on my shoe. A fellow runner asked me one evening if I wore them because the cyclists whizz by so fast & I didn’t want to get run over. I was caught completely off-guard by his question and answered him with my (usually tempered) brutal honesty: If I were dragged into the woods I would want someone to notice the lights, & thereby, me. He and I both were a little off-put by my answer, but ran in Rock Creek Park in DC around the time of the Chandra Levy disappearance, and would prefer to not be seen as easy prey.

  3. I use the Map My Run website to keep track of all my favorite road routes. My husband knows that I will put the route I am running up on the computer screen and leave it there for the duration of my run, so that he knows exactly where I am going to be.

    I carry my cell phone.

    I also like to run trails, and when i do, I usually take my dog. He’s keen and knows when another person is approaching, and he’s very protective.

  4. Thank you for keeping us in the know on details for Sherry. I am running Tinkerbell with that photo on my back too. This hits hard. I too am a 40 something mom, teacher, runner. We are here for eachother.

  5. I always carry my handgun when I run. I do not conceal it, but have it holstered around my waist in plain sight. RIP Sherry, I think of you and pray for your family every day…

  6. I run in a group, I run on paths at a time I know people are around (other runners, walking their dogs, etc.). I stay away from parked cars, crossing the street if I have to.

  7. When it is dimly lit, I run with a flashing or blinking light as well as reflective clothing. Listen, listen, listen to your surroundings and look twice or even three times before crossing streets and intersections or even crossing over trails.
    If you are running with a group, make sure that all members are accounted for throughout and after the run.
    Be safe, and insist that your fellow runners are safe as we are all “running for our lives”, that is: to live fully for the rest of our lives and love the sport that we share in safety each day that we head out for a run.
    May God hold Sherry Arnold’s family in His hands and guide her to the fastest route into the gates of Heaven!

  8. Thanks to everyone for their tips. As a fellow Montanan, teacher, mother, and rural runner, this tragedy has just unhinged me on so many levels. I finally found a buddy and got a short run in this weekend, but I’ve not been able to bring myself to run my early morning, in-the-dark, runs. Your posts have me ready to by some bear spray, charge my phone batteries, and get back out there! My prayers go out to Sherry”s family and friends, and I’m in for any type of event to help raise funds for the family and community.

  9. Sherry’s death has weighed very heavily on me too, I have thought of her and her family every time I have been out to run since I read she was missing. May she rest in peace, it is so obvious that she has many many people who love her and will miss her.

    I too always run with my phone and I have locating enabled. My husband tracks me on my phone particularly on long runs. There have been longer runs where I am later than planned because I have stopped a couple of times and he has tracked me to see if I am still moving and called me on my phone to check in to make sure I am ok.

  10. I was so sad to hear about Sherry, it really made me think about safety while running, among many other things.

    One thing I’ve decided to add to the cell phone, dog and pepper spray, is a whistle. I read it on a running safety website and thought it wad a pretty good idea…can’t hurt.

  11. I set up a signal with a few friends and my husband: if they receive a TEXT MESSAGE from me saying I’m finished with my run they should CALL THE COPS. I will only CALL to let them know I’m safe.

    I try to only run with people but if I have to run alone I try to stay in my boring neighborhood. I made the mistake of running on the Greenway at dusk. I called a friend to talk for the last 15 minutes of my run. That’s when we set up the text S.O.S. plan.

  12. I do most of my running on mountain trails with my two big dogs. I do one road run a week, and I have to admit that I feel vulnerable without my dogs.

  13. Have you seen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? I’ll NEVER forget what the killer says in the movie… He basically asks the dude he’s about to kill why {I’m paraphrasing at this point} people are more afraid of offending someone who’s raising red flags than afraid for their own safety.
    I came home from that movie and told my 13 year old what he’d said. It’s so true. We’re raised to be polite and helpful. I have given directions at least 2 times this year to total strangers… men in cars, b/c they’ve stopped me when I’ve been out on the road.
    I get it. I’m more afraid of being perceived as rude than worried about my own safety. THIS MUST CHANGE.
    My plan from here on out, is to be safe. Whatever it takes. No more fretting over the feelings of others, no more thinking ‘oh I’ll be fine running that lonely house-less road by myself.’ There will be some changes made in my life. Sherry’s life will not go unhonered… I will remember her forever as the woman who quite possibly saved my life.

  14. I ran this morning at 5:00 am and I didn’t even think about safety. I wore a headlight (so I could critter spot) and I listened to the “another mother runner” podcast, so I wasn’t even paying attention. I didn’t tell anyone in my family I was going (as I didn’t even know until my eyes popped open that early) and they were all still sleeping when I returned. I’m normally not that oblivious, but now I feel completely stupid. I feel so safe (generally speaking) in my community, that I took my own safety for-granted. Thank you for reminding me to never let my guard down. Thank you for reminding me of the many things I can do to stay safe and feel safe.

    One thing I have found helpful is to always be aware of when the sun sets. I run in the evenings and I’ve found myself one too many times on a trail when the sun drops too quickly behind the trees….

  15. I’m a new runner and Sherry’s story is incredibly scary! I have been doing my runs along my very busy street (on the sidewalk) or a nearby trail during daytime hours. A few years ago, a teenage girl was kidnapped and killed on her run at dusk on another trail nearby, so I always stick to the streets if it’s not mid day.

    So far I’ve only had a few scary feelings and nothing more, but it makes me glad I stick to busy roads. It looks like it’s time to invest in a mini maglite while I’m at it!

  16. Thank you so much for these reminders. I’ve been following Beth’s blog and what happened to Sherry shook my core. I tell my husband my route and how long it would take me. Thanks to this thing (don’t know the name), this app in my phone, my hubs can see where I am via GPS…he can basically stalk me. I have a ROAD ID and never leave home without my cell. Now I am thinking of getting pepper spray to carry on my runs. I also try to stick to busy routes where I can be seen. Be careful out there, moms!

  17. I bought myself a Road ID for Christmas this year. I don’t know who is comforts more, me or my hubby. He worries so much when I run alone, whether it’s in our neighbor (in the country) or around the local farms (in even more of the country). Also, if I do any sort of trail runs where I’m away from traffic and people, I always go with others.

    And yes, I always tell someone where I am running and about how long it should take me. My hubby (who’s not a runner) will even drive around and find me on my long runs to see if I’m ok and if I need more water.

    If you don’t have Road ID, consider writing with an ink pen on your leg or arm or whatever body part you feel would show. I have a friend who’s a firefighter and he does this when he goes for long bike rides. He’s just come upon too many accidents where there’s no ID at all.
    Carolyn in NC

  18. I run (and gym) with a roadId (Christi Kline – husband 949-xxx-xxxx – TNDL xxxxxx – no allergies) a paramedic can call hubby with his number and a cop can lookup all your info with a dl number.

    I carry my cell. It’s an iPhone and we use find my friends to track each other (hubby is also a runner) if hubby sees I’m stopped too long or in a wired place he calls. Run keeper elite also has this feature for the non iPhone crowd.

    I have a $20 in the key pocket of my phone holder.

    In the dark I run our lighted neighborhood or a main road with lots of traffic and a good sidewalk (or both)

    In the dark I run w/o tunes.

    In the morning I have a ‘hard stop’ time so hubby can get to work. I’m NEVER late. If I was that would be a huge red flag.

    I remember life is short and should be lived to its fullest. This is the example I try to set for my own two daughters.

  19. I carry my iPhone on every run. I use an app called Glympse that sends an email to my husband (or whomever I choose) that maps my phone’s location and speed. He can track me at anytime. Also wear my Road ID. I listen to podcasts without headphones. To others, it might seem like I’m having a conversation on speaker phone.

  20. Thanks for sharing. It is horrific what happened to her. Unfortunately, it is a reminder to us all that we must be careful. I often run in the early am. I run with my two boxers. They scare people in broad day light. They look so mean but they are the sweetest! They are my secret weapon. I will start carrying my phone.

  21. My husband knows my running route, on Saturdays my runs are longer so he knows exactly where I am. We also use an app called “Find My friends”, he can locate me and see what road I am on. I began running with my cell phone a few months ago. I am a solo runner, but just purchased pepper spray for me and my BRF. It has a UV dye in it, should someone try to get fresh, not only will the pepper spray burn one’s eyes, but their face will get marked up like a raccoon as well. Stay safe fellow Mother Runners.

  22. Sherry’s story rattled me, too and my husband! I hate being so nervous but that’s what I am now!–especially on my run Saturday. One tip I learned about carrying spray is to practice with it first! Know how to use it so you arent fumbling around when you need it most.
    I know there is more good than evil in the world, but her poor family and the kids.. How do you explain such violence to little ones? It just makes me cry.

  23. Thanks so much for your tips and reminders. They are so very important. I must say, though, that there is another angle that needs to be considered. We live near Sherry’s community, having moved here a little over a year ago due to my husbands job with the government. The general climate of northeastern Montana and certainly that of north Dakota has changed drastically due to the “oil boom” here. All sorts of violent crime has skyrocketed in the Williston, ND area and has been creeping into Montana. The men who come here for work are generally unstable and violent. Yes, runners need to be safe. Sherry’s death, sadly and sorrowfully, is an example of the lawlessness in this part of the country that has gone unchecked. Our communities out here are beyond rattled, runners and non- runners alike.

    1. Kim, I have to beg to differ with you… I grew up in Glendive, MT (50 miles from Sidney) and have currently lived in Williston for a year and a half. I think we need to be VERY careful about painting the people who come here with the same brush. Many are hardworking men who have lost their jobs in other areas and come here only with the hope of supporting their families. After all, both of our husbands and families moved here for work. Yes, some bad elements have come here as well… but I feel they are the exceptions and not the rule.

  24. Love the last two tips. In Alabama, we say “hi” to everyone we pass, you know southern hospitality, but this gives you a practical reason to keep doing it. I was definitely more alert on my long run on Saturday. Decided to run without music, which was a nice change. Thanks for the post. We can’t ever just assume that people know running safety, and as a new runner, I find posts like this very helpful!

  25. These are great tips and I’m guilty of not always following them. In the days since Sherry Arnold’s death, I’ve made some changes though. I send a text to my husband just before my run, telling him the approximate mileage and time, and then text him when I’m safely back at home. Since we both use RunKeeper anyway, we paid $40 for both of us to have the Elite membership. Using our computers or phones, we can now track each other’s runs and rides on a map, in real time. I say hello to every single person I come across and try to make eye contact too. I love the idea of wearing really bright colors and plan to buy a gel-based bear spray to carry.

  26. Wonderful reminders. I love to head out for a run with no real direction in mind – I hate that this has become a no-no. I’ve had my share of weirdness while out running. Many years ago, some friends and I were held up at gunpoint on a run! Since then, I try to be always looking for where I would go if there was trouble.

  27. My friend Katie told me about headlights – the ones you wear around your head! My mom gave me one for Christmas last year and I can’t believe how much I love it! I usually run on well-lit streets, but I like how other people can’t miss them (or drivers). I wear a reflective jacket and a reflective vest. Thanks for the reminder about the cell phone. I hate mine.

  28. You know, I live in a very safe town in rural Iowa…population like 1300! Sherry Arnold’s story has me a bit unnerved. I went running Sunday afternoon on a trail by our house, and followed the rules: told hubby where I was going, how far, how long to expect me to be gone, took my phone, no headphones, daylight, chose an out and back route…

    …felt OK until my return. There was a guy with a large yellow lab just standing on the trail looking at me. Now, I know a bit about dogs and I know that a lot of people practice good trail etiquette and take their dogs to the side until people pass them (this dog was unleashed so I sort of thought this may be the case). However, it was just eerie enough, and the guy didn’t say hi. He nodded at me but it sort of creeped me out. Know what I did? Texted the hubby and said I was coming back on the main road instead of the trail. I took the first gravel road BACK to the main road back into town. Enough cars drive that route that I knew I’d feel safer. True, I had to give up my trail run, had to run on gravel without my trail shoes on, and had to run with cars flying past me at 55mph but I felt safer instantly.

    My guess is the guy was harmless…but better safe than sorry.

    Now, my husband wants me to carry a gun when I go out by myself 🙁 Not so sure I can pull that off! I think it would be difficult to carry even a small one while running!

  29. I have been really rattled by Sherry’s death. I leave my route on map my run up on the computer so my husband knows where I am and he knows about when I should be home. I run in the neighborhood and would not hesitate to knock on someones door. Luckily I could probably find someone I know.

  30. Thank you for putting so many of my feelings into words.

    I have been thinking of Sherry Arnold so much. We used to live in Montana, and as a mom, I’m so distraught for her family. I also have a lot of anger that someone could do that to someone merely getting up and going for a run, something I do every day.

    Everyone I know, who knows I run has been making sure that I am safe, and I always tell my husband where I’m running and if I’m not with a buddy I have my dog or my phone.

    My only advice is to listen to your intuition. If something feels off, I’d rather turn the other way, or flag some cop down than try to finish that last mile. I have my Road ID on my shoe, but hadn’t switched it to my new shoes, but am doing it now.

    I am going to dedicate my run in May (Fargo Marathon) to Sherry, and pray for her family during this difficult time.

  31. Whenever I run in the dark I stay strictly on residential streets. That way if I feel in any way threatened I am steps away from someone’s front door. I also set out my running clothes the night before so my hubby sees what I am going to wear before he goes to bed, and I always run with my phone.

    Does anyone (successfully) use one of the GPS tracker apps? The ones that will locate your phone from a computer? I am trying to find a decent one that will run in the background on my iPhone.

  32. Great reminders. Sherry’s death really shook me and I’m sure she will be in my thoughts for a long time to come. I follow most of the tips you have – since I run alone (still looking for a running buddy) I always make sure my husband or neighbor knows my route. I usually leave it up on my laptop on I also change my routes often, especially for my long runs. Ever since the story about Sherry broke I’ve been thinking about getting pepper spray too. And I highly recommend a self-defense class!

  33. I have just been sick about this. I know it happens but because she was a mother runner I felt a special connection and was completely rattled because it could have been me. It could be me. I run pre-dawn and alone. I bring my phone and spray. But we don’t know that Sherry didn’t have those things, do we? I agree with the comment above that if someone is determined to hurt us there is likely nothing all the precautions in the world can do. None of us set out on our run or our day for that matter expecting anything bad to happen. And we shouldn’t, but the least we can do is everything we can to stay safe and keep running. God’s peace to Sherry and her loved ones.

  34. Great post! I have been heartbroken since reading about Sherry. Since I run in the dark at 5am, I stick to my neighborhood and always run with my 70 pound shepherd mix. On my longer weekend runs I wait until the sun is up before I run on the river trail and always bring my phone (and dog). I have felt a little uneasy a few times from some of the homeless people on the trail but luckily there are lots of runners so you are rarely alone for long.

  35. I am mostly a solo runner, though not by choice. I just haven’t found a partner yet. All these reminders are so good and so important. We cannot take safety lightly. My sincerest sympathy to Sherry’s familiy. The biggest precaution I take is making sure someone knows my route and approximate time of return. I also carry a cell phone with me. I strongly advocate wearing a glow belt or other reflective gear, just to been seen by cars.

  36. Great post–I, too, have been followed many times in broad daylight, and safety reminders never get old. My deepest sympathies to Sherry and her family.

  37. Thanks for the reminders… I’m among the early morning pre-dawn runners, which can be a little nerve-wracking during the dark winter months. Until this month, I took some solace in the fact I live in a very quiet, seemingly safe Montana town … but the news of Sherry’s disappearance has totally unseated that belief. A friend here in town was one of Sherry’s best friends and Sidney, where she lived, is about the same size as the town I live in and just a few short hours from here. I definitely pay more attention now to safety and know that many others in our area are doing the same… and have spent a lot of time lately thinking about Sherry and what a tragic loss has come of the situation.

  38. thank you for using my picture and for this post…
    I did not know Sherry but I know I will never forget her. She was me, same built, same age, a mom, a wife, a solo runner.

    I carry pepper spray in my hand, not in my belt
    I say hello to everyone I cross. All of them, I believe they will remember a gal with an accent.
    I tell my husband how I am dressed and where I go.
    I have a road ID and a cell phone.
    Since Sherry I no longer run my long runs on my trail in the early morning
    I now take busy street and use the sidewalks.
    I am not giving up running….not a chance, but I will say that I am now scared at times and that is not a good feeling to have.

    1. i am sherry’s neighbor and previous student and resident in sidney mt and would like to thank you for wearing her picture and keeping her alive for the good of people. what she would have wanted was her to make an impact for the good. she already did by being a good teacher and coach and now even in death she teaches. im a mother and a walker (not far off) and all the same good advice. she AND her husband were both passionate about thier runs as we would see them everyday passing by. thank you, thank ALL of you. may sherry’s life and death be always teaching us for the better!

  39. Yes, statistically the risks are higher driving to work in the morning then a random person attacking you, but for the same reasons we wear seat belts and drive safely, we should all take precautions when we run because sadly, crap happens. And it doesn’t always result in a tragic death. For all the cases that end so sadly there are others where the woman survives or is able to fight/scare off someone or a creep thinks twice about harassing her in the first place. Yeh, if someone is hell bent on hurting you, all the precautions in the world aren’t going to matter.
    But these are all simple things that we can do and incorporate into our runs so they are 2nd nature.
    These are all great tips – in the post and in the comments. Thanks for writing it.

  40. My scariest incident happened in broad daylight in a nice neighborhood. One thing I now do if I’m running by myself and get that feeling in my gut (always trust your gut, ladies) is I make it a point to give a friendly wave to cars and/or houses. To me, this gives the sense that you’ve spotted someone you know and they in turn have spotted you.

    Great post, ladies. Sherry and her family continue to be in my thoughts.

  41. These are all great tips but it is important to remember that these are two women in 15 years. Each tragedy hits us in a visceral way but you probably take at greater statistical risk driving to work in the morning. We cannot (I will not) live as a prisoner because of what are in reality small risks.

    1. More than 2 women in 15 years have been raped/harassed/beaten/robbed/murdered while out running. Just google ‘woman attacked running’ and there are plenty of stories. I refuse to stop running and I refuse to live in fear, but violence against women is a reality. Just ask a victim (or her surviving family) and likely she will tell you that she never thought it would happen to her.
      Be safe ladies!

  42. First, thank you for your touching tribute to Sherry. I, too, am a mother runner who runs in a mostly rural area with little traffic where the houses are few and far between and this has really hit home for me. My husband always knows where I’m running and how long I will be gone. If I’m more than 10 minutes late, he comes to look for me. I try to always make eye contact with oncoming vehicles and memorize license plate numbers. If I’m running on the nature trail near my office, I’ve gone so far as to say out loud to sketchy looking men “I see you”. It may not deter someone who’s determined to harm me, but it makes ME feel a little more powerful and in control.

  43. I love the tips. A few things to think about.
    If you carry mace or pepper spray, get the gel formula to avoid backspray. You wont think about wind direction when it comes time to use it so buy the right stuff. In fact, I took a self defense class last spring where the instructor told us something interesting. Get Bear Spray. Yes, it is meant for bears but generally is in a gel form. It is strong enough to do the job for both humans and dogs.
    Don’t want to carry a flashlight, wear a cap light that fishermen use. They are totally light weight and super powerful. It will disorient a dog or a person coming up and you get the extra added bonus of not blinding yourself.
    Wear a screaming yellow jacket. (seriously) I have a bikers lightweight breathable rain coat. Everyone sees me. Really everyone. Don’t like yellow, wear your favorite Hot color. The little kids in my area call me the banana lady. I don’t care cause it means I am getting seen even in broad daylight. In summer wear crazy color socks or get some vibrant shoes or a loud tee shirt. It works and people give you a wide berth.
    If anyone wants more info or places to get the good cap lights, email me at rendancechick at yahoo dot com.
    Ps Be safe and if you can take an NRA Refuse to Be A victim course. It is for women, useful, and might help save a life.

    1. I’m a big believer in self defense classes! I took one through community ed and I felt empowered afterwards. I had a scare a few years ago running around a local city lake pre-dawn. Totally freaked me out and kept me from running outside for almost a year before I took that class and got up the courage to go out there again.

  44. I bring my license, I wear a RoadID, I keep my headphones low, I run towards traffic, I let people know my route and when I’m expected back, I carry my cell phone. I take every precaution I possibly can and STILL it’s possible to have this occur. That’s what’s so frustrating. That no matter haw many precautions we take, something awful can still happen. The sanctity of our runs – our freedom, our escape, our decompression can be so completely and utterly violated. It infuriates me. But yet, I’ll still run

  45. One thing I like to do (since my DH is often snoozing away when I leave on a run) is pull up my route on and leave it open on my laptop. That ways when he does wake up he can see where I should be.

    I used to run without my phone a lot, but I stopped doing it this summer. In June I crashed my bike and broke my leg–one house over from my house–but with no phone, I had to wait outside for about 15 minutes before getting help. Luckily my neighbor came out at that time. If I’d had my phone, I would have been on my comfy couch with my leg propped up in no time!

  46. My BRF’s husband is in the secret service, and he loves to give personal safety tips. He firmly believes that the best self defense item a person can carry is a flash light. Those LED lights can totally disorient a person if flashed directly in the eyes, giving you time to get away. (Also good to disorient a dog.) Also, a lot of the little hand held ones are metal and have grooves cut in around the light– I call it my face shredder. Should it ever come down to hand to hand combat, I have a pretty powerful weapon in my hand at all times. I’m also a fan of greeting everyone so that they might remember me or come to my aid, and so that any predator can tell that I’m bold and not completely worn out.

  47. As someone who runs alone, and often early in the morning, I can appreciate all of these tips. I do run with my Road ID and iPhone as a security measure. I support keeping all of us safe and still running.

  48. I don’t run outside much. And, since we’re being honest, now I’m more than a little scared to do so. I live in a pretty rural area and my normal route involves a lot of farms/woods. I’m not sure what I’m going to do but right now (both because of the weather and because of fear), the treadmill is my best friend. I have an option to run a neighborhood loop, though, and I will probably do that when the weather (and my heart) warms up enough. Thanks for the tips.

  49. Yes, it makes me furious that we all can’t be safe when we run. I read about men running transcontinental across the U.S. without problems. But women are vulnerable runners. I carry pepper spray, don’t listen to music, wear ID on every run, bring my phone on long runs, and tell my hubby where I’ll be. I am more aware of slow passing vehicles and vehicles turning out of driveways. This year I bought a life insurance policy because I don’t want a crazy driver to ruin my dreams for my daughter. I’ve been trained by British and U.S. military in self-defense & weapons. Because so many guys have hunting rifles—I can’t compete with that unless I carry a concealed pistol. That may be in my future!

  50. On weekdays, I have to run at 4am, so my only safe option is to run on the treadmill. And on Sunday’s, when I finally get outside, I’ve recently started running with my sister. I also have a Road ID on my shoe, and I run with a pack that carries my cell phone.

  51. I always let people know where I am going and text when I get out of the car and when I get back. I also make eye contact with every person I pass and occasionally look behind me. If I see somebody shady, I pay special attention and sometimes will turn my music off just so I can be more alert. I’ve cut a run short because suddenly I felt very alone in the park and very vulnerable. Your instincts are the best guide – listen to your gut!

  52. I always wear my Road ID, even to the gym (more for if I pass out or something). Sometimes I run with my pepper spray (more for dogs). My husband always knows my route…even if I change it a little, I run the same routes every time.

  53. I used to run on the trail alone until Christmas eve morning when about 6 miles in I saw a guy walking up ahead. But not walking for fitness, just slowly walking. He was in ripped jeans, a workmans jacket with hood up and kept looking back at me about every 10 seconds are so. At this time, there was no one else around. He even put his hands in his pockets at one point. It was the first time I was scared on the trail. So…I called home. I loudly talked to my daughter and my hubby. I told him exactly where I was and was able to pass the young man (early 20s) while talking to my hubby. When I was far enough away that he wouldn’t hear me I told my hubby what was going on. He came and picked me up. I ran while talking to him until we met up. It taught me a lesson. I now do my long runs with a group from a local running store on Saturdays (even though I am a lot slower), I always take my phone, tell someone exactly where I am going and when I will be back. I either listen to my music low or keep one earbud out. And the owner of the running store gave me some pepper spray which I bring with me. We have to be safe while we keep on running! God Bless Sherry…may she rest in peace.

  54. Sherry’s horrible story has rattled me too. I’m a predawn lone mother runner. Just this morning I decided to move my usual Tues morning speedwork to tomorrow, and crosstrain today. I’m way too habitual in my training and I realized that I run the same routes and the same days. No more. Sherry reminds me that you can’t take anything for granted. Can’t be too safe. I am changing up my routes and schedule.

    RIP Sherry, you are in our hearts forever.

  55. I use the gps on my phone to map where I am and tell my hubby the route and ETA. If anything happens he can log online and see where Ive been. I also have a bright pink road id

  56. Thanks for these reminders. I run with a buddy and try not to go out in the dark alone. My heart breaks for her, her family, her community, Beth, Beth’s family, and everyone affected by this.

    I like Beth’s perspective: “I will say there are two malicious, heinous men who did this and thousands upon thousands of loving and good people who have reached out in support. It’s not even a close contest. The good continues to outweigh the evil by a long shot. That’s where I will put my attention.”

    Stay safe everyone.

  57. My heart goes out to Sherry’s family. I run mornings at 4:30am and constantly think about safety. During my runs I have had plenty of time to think about what I would do in certain situations. I carry my “bad guy spray” as my kids call it and my phone as well. I run my boring neighborhood loops – but there are streetlights and I know the routines of every person around there now! Thanks for the reminders to keep us all safe.

  58. Sherry’s death weighed heavy on my mind during my long run this weekend. I am usually aware of my surroundings but this weekend I was acutely aware of who was around me and where I was. Part of my route goes down to the ocean and most of the neighborhood are huge summer mansions that are now empty. When I go down there I take out my headphones. I want to hear everything around me! My worst fear is that my daughter would have to face this world without a mom so I will do everything I can to stay safe and be there.

  59. Road Id on my shoe and on my bike (since I am not wearing running shoes then). I also never go without my phone and try hard to go only when it is light, offering plenty of visibility. Thanks, Sherry for being our guardian angel and getting us to think about our safety a little bit more.

  60. I always have pepper spray with me, and I always tell my husband where I am going and how long I will be, and have him repeat it back so I know he got it. On long runs, I take my cell phone and try to do my runs in places where I know other runners/people will be, so I am not just out alone. There have been times when I have had to do long runs early, before others are up and out and before it is light – so I have done 18 mile runs by doing lap after lap around my neighborhood, simply because I know it is safer than being anywhere else alone at 3 am. I’d rather be bored, have the neighbors think I’m nuts and be safe, than not.

  61. I do nothing much different from these tips, but also since I run with my phone I have taken it out and pretended to call someone when a van passed twice. Also, I have cut short a loop if it just didn’t feel right.
    I dedicated my 7 Saturday to Sherry, and to say I was hyper-aware of my surroundings is putting it mildly.

  62. I never run without my phone. Ever. As the wife of a cop in a big city… Safety first. There have been a few times I have felt uncomfortable so I slow down and pull out my phone. I will call someone and start talking to them telling them my exact location. No not everyone I know is up at the butt crack of dawn but I know a few as well as some cops in the area.

    I also say hello to every person I pass even if they don’t reply. I want them to remember me. I wear bright colors as well as shirts/hats from races … Not just “a pink top”. Something else to be remembered by.

  63. I have a road id that I normally forget to wear. My main staying-safe strategies are running without music and in well-lit areas. I also vary my route.

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