I had originally written this chapter for my book that I've been working on for 265677 years, but after this last week I went back through and really tweaked it because well, I just had to be.
Eliza Fletcher was kidnapped and murdered while on a run at 4:20am in Memphis. She was a mother of two and a teacher. 4:20am is the only time she had to run, to train, to have her time, to beat the swampy humidity of Memphis at the end of summer, to do what she loved before she started her day serving others. Stop saying "she shouldn't have been running at 4:20 in the morning." Yes, she should have. She shouldn't have to feel unsafe ANYWHERE at ANYTIME being a woman alone.
Unfortunately we live in a world these days where we as women have to be on alert and fear for our safety especially if we venture out alone - at any time. What we can do is keep running, stay strong, arm ourselves with information and tools. I've included a few of my own tips and have also linked a few sites to check out and read through.
-Take your phone with you and let someone know where you’re going, how long you’re going for and what time they can expect you back. I like The Tube running belt because it has a waterproof pocket for your phone, 2 zip-up pockets for gels, ID, cash, or a key, and it doesn't bounce at all.
-Share your location with family and friends so that you are easily tracked.
-Be familiar with the route, and if you’re scared of going alone - don’t. Call a friend or find a running group. Running in an area where people know you is always a good idea.
-If you're venturing out early morning or late night where it's still mostly dark outside, consider wearing some reflective gear, wear light clothing - no dark clothes and think about purchasing a reflective vest or headlamp.
-Opt for a treadmill in a gym. You can always do your workouts on a treadmill. It is always better to run outside if and when possible because that training will translate
better in a race, but if you’re worried or don’t feel comfortable, a treadmill will always work. Run at a 1% incline to simulate the road.
-Run with your pup! If you can't take a human friend along, your fur friend is also a great choice.
-Wear a Road ID. This looks like a bracelet or you can attach it your shoe, Garmin, Apple Watch or Fitbit and has your info and emergency contact info on it. Check out the link for more info! Here's an example of a RoadID for the Apple Watch...
-Take a self defense class. This is always a good thing to have in your back pocket being a woman and a runner. Just a tidbit while you’re here - go for the eyes and don’t give up. The fight is never over until you’re completely safe, so commit to seeing it through.
-If you’re traveling and plan to get a few runs in outside, ask around about safe places to run or find a local running club to meet up with.
-If you're going to wear headphones, my suggestion is ditch the noise canceling ones. We need to be able to hear if someone is coming, if a dog is barking, or if a car gets too close. My absolute favorite running headphones are Shockz. They are bone conducting headphones that let you hear ambient noise. All I have to say is - GO GET SOME NOW. Running without headphones is optimal for safety, but if you are a runner that has to have them, try these.
-GoGuarded has THE BEST line of tools for women runners. They carry portable sirens, pepper spray and rings that can be used as a smile knife and other small tools that could literally save your life on a run. The link above takes you straight to my affiliate link with this wonderful women-run (pun intended) company. They also have some great articles on their blog with safety tips. Here's a pic of the GoGuarded ring...
-Research some basic self defense moves. If you can't immediately find a class to join, do some reading online. I've linked a couple to get you started...
The more prepared you are and the more you do something, the more confidence you gain. If you can set yourself up for success and continue doing the thing that scares you - you’re going to conquer your fears. You just have to take the first step and just keep moving forward.
Eliza Fletcher will live on because I believe she has saved the lives of many women runners out there.
God bless your sweet, sweaty, running soul, Eliza. I cannot wait to meet you one day and run some miles on streets paved of Gold.