I love to run. Usually I’m able to to get out about three to four times a week. I wouldn’t consider myself an excellent runner, but it’s something I enjoy to do. It’s the one time a day that I’m able to have 30 minutes of time to be alone and think. No one is yelling, saying “mama” over and over again, and there are no demands on me from work or life.
When Iowa native, Mollie Tibbetts, disappeared while out doing what she loved too, I couldn’t help but think of how frightened she must have felt. She went missing less than 2 hours from where I live and she attended the same University I graduated from. While Mollie and I differ in a lot of ways, we shared the same love of running. Because of this I felt connected to her in a big way.
I have to admit, even before Mollie’s disappearance I took safety precautions while running. I chose to run on well populated, busy streets and to run the same route every time. When I run I’m constantly aware of my surroundings and always thinking what I would do in different situations. I hate that I have to think this way, but it’s the reality.
CNN recently published a statistic that nearly half of female runners have been harassed in some way while out for a run, while less than 5 percent of men had. I’m part of that number. I’ve been whistled, cat-called, or stared at by men while out for a run. Fortunately for me, I haven’t had anything more happen or anything close to what Mollie experienced. This doesn’t mean that it couldn’t happen to me in the future too.
The one thing I won’t let happen is fear stop me from doing what I love. Instead, I’ll continue to put in place different methods of safety for myself while I take my quick three to four miles around the neighborhood.
Safety Tips for Running
- Always tell someone your route and how long you plan to be gone for. I make sure to tell my husband where I’m going for my run and how long it should take me while I’m out. This way he knows my route and knows when to expect me back. If I’m not back in that time, he knows something is up.
- Don’t run in unfamiliar areas, especially after dark. Personally, I choose not to run in the dark at all, but I know some of my female friends that still run in the dark. That’s personal preference, but definitely don’t run in unfamiliar areas. You don’t know your surroundings or the type of neighborhood it is. I also choose not to run on trails because of how isolated they are. I also only keep one ear bud in to be even more aware of my surroundings.
- Don’t let your cell phone give you a false sense of security. Mollie had her cell phone on her and it didn’t save her. Attackers assume that most people are going to have a cell phone on them, and it’s often difficult to dial 911 if you are in a struggle. An easily accessible wearable device, such as the Wearsafe Tag, can allow you to instantly alert someone that you need help.
- Listen to your intuition. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Get to the nearest safe location. I’ve had situations that my gut didn’t feel right and instantly will turn back home or even go in to a public store or restaurant
- Bring pepper spray or some kind of defense weapon. Also, consider taking a self-defense class. This is one tip that I need to start utilizing. Carrying pepper spray or having the necessary training will give you an extra layer of defense to fight back if needed.
A nationwide movement of female runners dedicating their “Miles for Mollie” (#milesformollie) has swept across the country. I too am running for Mollie and will continue to think about her every time I lace up my shoes. As females, we have a lot we have to be aware and fearful of, but fear won’t stop me and thousands of other female runners from doing what we love.
Make sure you never miss out on a parenting or community-related blog post: sign up to receive CRMB posts in your inbox. While you’re at it, join our VIP List to ensure you’re one of the first to know about upcoming Cedar Rapids Moms Blog events and promotions!!