Who wants to get mugged running? NOT ME!

7 Jul

Yesterday I heard some news that seriously bummed me out.

One of my favorite spots in the Red Stick to run is around the LSU Lakes. Its scenic, a great route, and occasionally you can catch a good breeze coming off the water. There is never a shortage of runners, cyclist, walkers, etc. catching some fresh air around the lakes. Well, that might be changing.

Apparently, some yahoos think it would be fun to start robbing people…at GUNPOINT around the lakes. And they must have some serious kahones too, because they are doing it at all times of day (from broad daylight to dusk). They are not targeting any one type of runner/walker, just people who are alone.

The other night, a lone male runner was robbed. The armed robbers must not have gotten their fill because they then went over to the Lutheran church near campus (who was kind enough to install a water fountain and misting system for all people enjoying the lakes to use) and robbed them too! C’mon! Who robs a CHURCH!? For crying out loud!

These are not the first two instances I have heard about trouble around the lakes. There have been rumblings of other robberies, and I, naively, continued running alone. You know, because I’m invincible. Surely this could never happen to me, right? Well, from now on, I am taking NO chances.

Here are some things I plan to do to try and minimize my chances of getting a gun in my face while running. These tips apply not only to areas that I frequent but really anywhere that you might decide to go and get your run on.

When I do decide to run alone (in my neighborhood), I plan on carrying pepper spray. That’s right. I might look like the crazy pregnant running lady wielding my pepper spray, but I don’t care. I am keeping me and Baby Key safe. I am warning you, if I have my headphones on, you better start yelling from a distance if you want my attention. Don’t go getting all crazy and come up behind me and tap me on the shoulder…unless, of course, you want to get sprayed.

Jogger Pepper Spray

Wear only one of my two earbuds. I should have been doing this all along, but it makes complete sense. Having only one earbud in allows me to still hear my music and keep my foot strike to the beat, but still allows me the safety of hearing cars, other runners/cyclists, dogs, or anyone trying to get my attention.

If running in places like the LSU lakes, trails, or anywhere else secluded, use the buddy system. Alright kids, I know it sounds juvenile and it sounds a little kindergarten-ish, but buddy up. I am not saying you have to hold hands and all that jazz, but there is safety in numbers. I have, so far, not heard of a group of runners/walkers, getting mugged…there is probably a reason for that. If you are in Louisiana, hop on Twitter and post with the #RunLA hashtag. There is bound to be someone who is free to go run with you! This is another reason I advocate group runs. No one is dumb enough to rob a MOB of runners.

Partners in crime! @adriennewraps

If you insist on running alone, freaking tell someone! It takes all of 2 seconds to call your mom, spouse, best friend or whoever to tell them where you’re going and about how long you will be gone. Heck, if you don’t feel like doing that, post it on Facebook, Twitter, or Foursquare to let someone (anyone) know where you are. That way, someone will know if you have been gone too long.

If you insist on running at night, make sure you are visible. Look, I know they are dorky, but go and get one of those reflective vests. Or, you could even be as cool as me and get yourself a fancy head lamp…and some neon. A little neon never hurt anyone.

Ain't no shame in my game! You like that crazy eye, don't you?

I know this gear does not register really high on the Scale of Cool, but getting hit by a car or kidnapped doesn’t sound really fun either.

Use your brain, people. If you are running/riding in an area and you are getting that bad juju feeling like something is just not right, listen to your gut and get out of there. It isn’t worth it. I know that as runners, we can be obsessive about making sure we get our training mileage in, but it is not worth getting a gun pointed in your face. Be smart!

What do you do to stay safe on your runs/rides? Do you encourage others to stay safe as well?

27 Responses to “Who wants to get mugged running? NOT ME!”

  1. running on faith at 9:38 AM #

    so scary about this news. I also decided to invest in a Road ID (www.roadid.com)band with my emergency contacts. I feel much safer knowing that if I was ever hurt, someone could contact my spouse/family members. Need to get some pepper spray too though and stop blaring my music and be more aware of my surroundings. Great tips!

    • katieRUNSthis at 9:41 AM #

      Isn’t it!? It saddens me…and angers me. This is one of the best spots in BR to go run and I hate that it isn’t as safe as it used to be. Good for you for getting a Road ID band! I have a GO Sport ID band on the way. It should be here any day now and I can’t wait to start wearing it!

    • Katherine at 10:16 AM #

      I have a Road ID and feel much safer wearing it around. NOLA isn’t necessarily a safe place, either, but I haven’t heard of anything like this happening here recently. There have been problems with people targeting cars of runners and triathletes in certain areas, which worries me, but a run-in at gunpoint is much scarier. It makes me angry, too, because we shouldn’t have to feel AFRAID to go on a long run or even around the block at any time of the day.

      • katieRUNSthis at 7:48 AM #

        It’s funny, for it being such a bigger city, sometimes New Orleans does seems safer…especially in certain areas. People have been targeting cars of runners/triathletes? Like for car jacking or for gear? That’s nuts.

  2. Karen at 9:38 AM #

    I love the headlamp. Where did you get it? I could use one of those for winter runs.

    • katieRUNSthis at 9:49 AM #

      It is a Princeton Fuel LED Headlamp (pink and gray) and I got it from Dick’s Sporting Goods. I bought it originally for use on the Breast Cancer 3-Day (its way easier to get dressed in the dark in your tent when your hands are free), but I’ve used it when running at night alone or in night races. Dorky, but helpful! It only cost about $30 or so. You can find basic headlamps at Dick’s Sporting Goods, REI, and Road Runner Sports.

  3. Courtenay at 10:19 AM #

    I always give my husband a detailed plan of my route. If he’s at work, I text him when I leave, give him an approximate time frame in which he should be hearing from me, and I text him when I get home. Same thing if he’s home when I’m running. If ever I end up staying out later than I told him, I call. I also have a GPS tracker on my phone that he can see on his phone and give him a map of where I am within like 500 feet. Obviously if my phone were lost, this wouldn’t work, but right now it’s the best I have.

    I don’t have Road ID, but I have a key chain that I pin to my shorts with his #, my mom’s #, and my full name and blood type on it.

    I don’t carry spray, but that’s not out of the question.

    We recently had some female joggers attacked and raped at a couple of the lakes in the cities here. One of the lakes was the one I ran my race around on Monday. It hasn’t happened in a while due to increased security, but I still think about it every single time I head out for a run. I’m always by myself.

    • katieRUNSthis at 7:50 AM #

      Giving your husband a heads up on where you’ll be and when you’ll be there is SO smart! Good for you! That GPS tracker tool sounds like a great idea too…I may have to look into that. It’s funny, sometimes the idea of “big brother watching” can scare us, but if tracking me by GPS keeps me safe, I’m all for it! Sexual assault while running has always been a BIG fear of mine, and it is even more so now that I know these violent crimes are in my area. I haven’t heard of any specifically yet, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

  4. alli kolb at 11:16 AM #

    whenever I run the lakes I usually have someone with me, but I always call Nick right before I start and when I get back to the car. I also used to run with my CS Gas spray (more powerful than pepper spray- military grade) and my phone…but I also fall victim to the “I’m invincible” thought process. Let me know when you go in the evenings, depending on my crazy work schedule, I may be able to go with!

    • katieRUNSthis at 7:52 AM #

      Oooh, where do you get that fancy super spray? I would definitely be interested to know! I think we all fall victim to the “it won’t happen to me” mentality. It is so easy to take safety for granted. And, these days, we just shouldn’t. I will definitely give you a shout when I/we go for runs/jogs in the evenings!! Hope you can join us soon!

  5. Melanie at 1:55 PM #

    As a student at LSU who enjoys running the lakes, I totally agree with you! I wish I felt safe enough to be able to run the lakes on my own, but now I’ve got one more reason to drag my roommate out running with me. Thanks for all your tips/advice. I love reading your blog! Hope to run into you at a race around BR sometime.

    • katieRUNSthis at 7:59 AM #

      Melanie, thanks for dropping by katieRUNSthis! I am so happy to hear that you enjoy reading it!

      It is SO easy to take the safety of the LSU Lakes for granted. You think that just because there are all those other people out there (even women with strollers!) that you’ll be just fine. But there are some more secluded/wooded areas that you really have to look out for. And with all of that new construction going on around the lakes, there are just so many places for people to hide or be sneaky. Definitely drag your roommate with you! Its good for you AND him/her!

      Drop me an email with your email address or catch me on Twitter and I’ll let you know then next time my running peeps get together so you can come join the fun!

  6. Michelle at 3:16 PM #

    I may be foolish, but I run by myself frequently. I recently invested in an ID card and I own a rape whistle, but I’m afraid I wouldn’t have the nerve to use it in a dangerous situation. I think I may stick with your suggestion, don some neon!

    • katieRUNSthis at 8:01 AM #

      If you are going to carry that whistle, be ready to use it! Those suckers are loud and would surely scare away (or at least completely deafen) an attacker. Be confident and don’t be afraid to use it!!

  7. Megan at 3:25 PM #

    That is really disappointing to hear. Ugh! You gave some really good tips.

    • katieRUNSthis at 8:01 AM #

      Isn’t it? Looks like it is group runs at the lakes from now on!! Thanks!

  8. Stephen Barrouquere at 4:13 PM #

    Great topic!
    What scares me is I don’t have much a robber would want. I don’t run with my smart phone. All I have is an 2 year old ipod shuffle plus my garmin 305, which I bought in Jan. 2009 (and not worth that much unless you have the stand). I rarely carry any money, and when I do…it is only 10 bucks emergency money. Are they going to shoot me if I have anything they want?
    The Tips are great. I have the Princeton Fuel LED Headlamp. It works great. I guess the best I can do is pay attention to my surroundings. Try to stick in a group whenever possible.

    • katieRUNSthis at 8:03 AM #

      Stephen, that is exactly how I feel. My biggest fear is that I would get held up, then they realize that all I’ve got is a driver’s license (which scares me to death because then they know where I live), change in the cup holder of my car, an iPod shuffle (valued at a whopping $49 when new…now loaded with girly running songs that would probably disappoint them), and a roll of TUMS (thank you, Baby Key, for the heartburn). I’m afraid they would shoot me for just being pissed off with my lack of goods!

  9. Tri Madness at 9:41 PM #

    Thanks for sharing. I know I live in a very safe area, but there have been times when I’ve been a little nervous…especially when I run at night. Once last winter, I was running about 9:30p and (of course) in a darker area of my run, when a dude came up on me and passed me – he was running too. Scared the crap out of me!

    • katieRUNSthis at 8:04 AM #

      That would have scared the junk out of me too! I hate it when people sneak up on me (whether intentional or not). And at that time of night, you think that surely you are the only crazy person running outside, right? 🙂 Not so, my friend.

  10. Kymberly Swope at 9:44 PM #

    I run alone always (well, with the exception of the 3 YO I push in a stroller). There have been attacks on female runners in my area as well (sexual assaults). I have FinishSafe ID’s. I also make sure that I leave my running route on my voicemail so anyone who calls gets it AND my intended return time (not just, I’ll be back in 3 hours). I have always worn only 1 earphone so I can hear cars, other people and my daughter. I have tried (in vain) to find someone to run with. Unfortunately, I live in OK or else I’d LOVE to get together with a bunch of #RunLA runners. I also frequently run at night and after several instances of people “not seeing me”, I bought a flashing light for $14 at Fleet Feet and it has worked wonders for the visibility (up to 60 feet). It is sad that we have to go to these extremes but safety is an issue. Be safe everyone and remember, NOTHING IS WORTH YOUR LIFE!

    • katieRUNSthis at 8:06 AM #

      I have never heard of FinishSafe ID’s but I will look into them.

      We wish you lived in Louisiana too! OK is SO far away! Do you ever get back here or are there any plans to move back here (or closer)?

      Thanks for the great comment! The flashlight is a great idea! And you are right, NOTHING that robbers could want would be worth losing your life over!

  11. Jordan Trump at 9:45 PM #

    Wow, that is pretty scary to have that happen where you run! I’ve definitely had some scary/creepy night runs where there was very little lighting… but no bad experiences, thank goodness! But people robbing runners at GUNPOINT is pretty serious!

    Something I haven’t seen mentioned that some of you might find useful are Nite-Ize products. I’m sure there are similar products out there, but I’ve ordered a few items from this site before, and I definitely feel like I’m safer from cars at night with them on. I guess it would help for any situation at night. And they come in NEON colors 🙂


    • katieRUNSthis at 8:14 AM #

      Yeah, once you bring GUNS into the picture, the level of crazy/scary goes up to a whole new level. I have never heard of those Nite-Ize products but I will definitely be looking into them! I’m a geek about safety. I don’t care how dumb I look. And if their products come in neon, well, I’m already sold. 🙂

  12. Jimi Dodge at 10:43 PM #

    I’ve actually been involved in a “stick up”, but not while I was running…when I was much younger. It was one of the scariest things that’s ever happened to me.

    Funny thing is, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about getting pepper spray, but not for muggers…I’m more afraid of the coyote and bear signs around the lake I sometimes run around. Probably wouldn’t hurt to get one for both reasons. Guess that makes up my mind…going to order one soon.

  13. Teresa Osgood at 9:26 AM #

    Great post! A friends father just told me last night to get pepper spray! Telling someone is always a great idea too–I even use an ap that allows only my friends to see my run live–so they can check on me if they want. My husband used it once to track me down! LOL 🙂

  14. Susan at 9:43 AM #

    maybe someone already mentioned this but it’s my main source for protection running in Greenville… (I do have pepper spray and a headlamp but I don’t use them EVERY run) I run with a safety whistle. It can be heard up to a mile away, even underwater. It’s pretty serious. Since I make sure I run in areas where there are a numbe of other cyclists, runners, walkers, and neighborhoods… its a good simple choice for me.

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