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A Word of Personal Safety Advice for Runners

A Word of Personal Safety Advice for Runners


Seeing all the springtime joggers emerging at our local peninsula, I can’t help but think of the infamous line from the movie Forrest Gump, “Run Forrest Run”!  Of course there are lots of health benefits to going for a nice run or walk in the great outdoors, but like all exercise, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it.

It’s completely understandable as to why people choose to run or walk in the early hours of the morning or later hours in the evening.  Not very many of us enjoy working out in the hot sun!   However, just like protecting our skin from sunburn with sunscreen, we should also be more cautious in prevention and awareness as it relates to personal safety.

If you enjoy the peace and tranquility of nature during the early or later hours in the day, it’s a good idea to find a workout buddy to tag along.   This is also a great motivator for helping you reach your fitness goals as well!  But if that’s not an option, most people choose to listen to music that motivates them.    However, if you are alone and not on a more populated trail during peak hours of the day, you need to be very careful about wearing those pulse-thumping ear buds that provide your favorite workout tunes.

The biggest problem is they block your ability to use the powerful sense of hearing as an early warning sign for trouble.  Unless you have eyes in the back of your head, hearing is the sense that alerts you to what you can’t see, such as what’s coming up from behind.  There are plenty of high-profile case examples of women being grabbed while out for an evening run, and their bodies being found later in another secluded area.   I’m not saying don’t listen to your favorite music, I just want to increase awareness of how you should listen to it while on that early morning/evening walk or run.

Take advantage of Bluetooth technology.  If you are in an area that won’t bother many people, use a small wireless speaker at a reasonable volume to play music as you go along.  For some, this may not be a suitable option, especially for those who insist on wearing ear buds.  I’m willing to compromise, so to these people I highly suggest you wear them in one ear.  That way, you can still listen to the music, but not completely close off your peripheral sense of hearing.   

Hearing is a primal sense that provides valuable information to our other senses, as well as feeding our intuition and ability to react quickly to a threat we cannot see.  This point brings me to another quote from the movie Forrest Gump.  “Mama always said life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re gonna get”.  Believe me, I love surprises.  But in the context of personal safety, I’d like to always know what I’m going to get. 

Happy Spring Everyone!


Rachel Cheeseman is a 2nd degree black belt and has studied the martial arts for the past 28 years.  She founded Street Smart Self Defense Academy in Erie, PA 17 years ago to empower women, due to the rape of her sister in her off-campus college apartment. She is a certified instructor for the national full-contact self-defense program called “Model Mugging” and a certified instructor for the MUNIO Self Defense Workshops. Rachel is also a member of and former seminar instructor for the American Women’s Self Defense Association, and she has been inducted into the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame, Action Martial Arts Magazine Hall of Honors and the World Karate Union Hall of Fame.