In Honor of Sherry Arnold: Be a Safe Runner

I’ve been seeing a lot of talk about Sherry Arnold over the last month, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I looked up her story.

Sherry Arnold was a 43-year-old math teacher, wife, and mother from a small town in Montana.  She went for a run in January and was abducted a mile away from home.  Even though her body hasn’t been found, two men are in custody, and the police have declared her dead. 

This horrible story has really affected the running community because not only have we lost one of our own, but this could have been any of us. I know in dark parking lots I’m paying attention to my surroundings and I’m focused on getting where I need to go safely.  Sometimes this common sense goes out the window when I’m more intent on having a good run in broad daylight.

Today there is a virtual l run/walk in honor of Sherry.  The organizers are asking  that you dedicate today’s miles to her. 

I think this is an appropriate time to emphasize runner safety. Even though this has been reblogged a million times, it is too important to not pass on (plus, I managed to miss it until yesterday, so other people probably have too).  Originally published by Skinny Runner, one of her readers gave some common sense tips for female joggers (and males too…sometimes I think men are a little more careless than they should be).  The reader has personally known 2 women who were attacked while jogging.

What I got out of this: running in daylight, running with mace, running in a small town, running in a good neighborhood all create a FALSE sense of security. 

Tips for Reducing Your Risk (via Skinny Runner)

* Switch up your routine. Do not run the same route day after day. Both my friend and family member felt the attack was well planned.

* Run in a group. There is something to be said about safety in numbers.

* Know that just because it is daylight does not mean you are safe. Crime does not have an address or a time preference.

* Pay attention to your surroundings. This is not just when running – all the time.  Look under your car while walking up to it (especially trucks) after your run.

*Don’t look so engaged in your phone/ipod/garmin that you look vulnerable.

  *Do not share your route(s) on social media; it’s about being smart. Are you true friends with all 500 people on your FB page? (I’d also add to set your Garmin Connect to private and avoid “I’m running around the Golf Course” status updates).

*If you run alone, try to run without your music. Yes, it is hard, but trust me, it’s not as hard as being a victim.  Remember, my friend had one ear bud out of her ear, heard him and it still happened.

* Do not bring mace or a weapon. Everyone thinks they would fight and beat up the bad guy, but once I heard in explicit detail what happened to my family member, I can honestly say I do not know what I would do if it was me. Some fight and some freeze.  You will not know what you would do until it happens which I hope is never.

*If you still feel a weapon is the way to go, first take a self defense class.  I’ve taken one before and they offer a lot of great tips.  If that isn’t enough, look into Krav Maga (self defense system used by Israeli defense forces) or karate classes; Krav Maga actually has you spar with other people.  It is something we are looking into now to help us get back to normality.

In the comments section, readers also provided these tips:

* Run with your dog, especially if it is big and intimidating.

* Run with your phone (but don’t talk on it while running). If you notice someone is following you or driving slowly next to you, call 911.

* If you run from your house, lock your door when you leave and right when you come back.  Also, if you feel like you are being followed, don’t lead the attacker to your home. Head somewhere public.

* Some people said to look everyone you pass in the eye and say hello so they know that you’ve noticed them AND you know what they look like.  Other people said making eye contact leads to being chosen as a victim.  I personally don’t make eye contact, but I DO get a good look at people while they are approaching.

* People are not the only threat…dogs, coyotes, and other wildlife can also attack.  I’ve run next to coyotes before, and I’m right in the middle of a city!

So, please remember Sherry during your run today, and please make good choices.  This doesn’t need to happen to anyone else.

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